Day 1 in Bordeaux
Welcome to Bordeaux! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do.
Begin the afternoon in the historic district to get your bearings of the country`s fifth largest metropolis. We recommend you take a bus tour of the city, it`s about an hour long tour taking you around all the top spots. This is a fantastic way to see the sites and determine where you want to spend more time.
Wander down the Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre with its many restaurants that make the streets here an energetic spot, a great place to enjoy some lunch and take in the local ambiance. Like most old towns, this city is best discovered by strolling through its narrow streets. Head to the central Place de la Comedie with its high-end cafes and restaurants overlooking the square and facing the opera, do not miss the Place de la Bourse with a beautiful fountain and frontal views of the Garonne river. Here, you`ll also find the World`s Largest Reflecting Pool (Miroir d`eau). Covering 37,100 sq ft. the pools of water create a mystical and ever-changing quality alternating between mirror and mist effects. Another highlight is the Cathedral, the large Place Pey Berland Tower, a climb to the top is worth the effort for the view, and the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall).
Another fun way to see the city is to rent a bike (good renting spot at the Place des Quinconces) and ride along the Garonne river. The city has good bike lanes and you`ll discover a bit of modern Bordeaux too as you leave the cobbled streets and the old town. Ride up to the modern lift bridge, it is an anchor in front of Bordeaux`s old town. We also suggest to bike on the other bank side of the Garonne river (the right bank), the part of town known as Bastide. You`ll find a couple spots on this side of the river that make this area quite special, such as the Darwin ecosystem that`s ideal for a quick coffee and to poke around. You`ll also want to take a moment in the Parc aux Angéliques and enjoy the breathtaking view over the Garonne River.
In the evening make your way to the lively streets around the place de la Victoire (Victory Square). With bars, clubs and restaurants all around there are plenty of options to choose from. Wander the streets here and take in the atmosphere of the city at night.
Day 2 in Bordeaux
Grab a quick breakfast and head to discover more of what this beautiful city has to offer. Visit the Saint-Andre, Saint-Seurin and Saint-Michel churches located on the old pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela. You`ll easily find Saint-Andre by its tall Gothic spires. Saint-Michel`s bell tower is also quite imposing. One of the tallest in France, it was built separately from the main church to protect it in case of a fire. Make sure to check out the Gallo-Roman crypt under the Saint-Seurin, which holds numerous relics from the sixth century.
After a busy morning stop into one of the cafes in the quaint squares of the city. Order some of the local specialties or any of the regional dishes such as the most sought-after dish, the `entrecote bordelaise`, a world renown dish of rib steak cooked in a rich gravy made from Bordeaux wine, butter, shallots, herbs and bone marrow. This is certainly a superb match to a hearty Bordeaux red wine.
Spend the rest of your afternoon at The Citédu Vin, a new generation museum and the world`s largest wine museum housed in an architecturally beautiful building. It`s seven floors offer exhibitions, shops, bars, restaurants and is dedicated to educating visitors and locals about beautiful Bordeaux wines. Spend some time wandering around, it`s fun and engaging with over 20 different zones covering various aspects of wine including three tasting rooms, several workshops, and so on! Make sure to visit the bar on the top floor for a glass of wine where you`ll find a 360-degree view of Bordeaux. There`s a platform that runs around the outside of the building that overlooks the entire city.
Next, make your way to Rue Sainte-Catherine for some shopping, the main shopping street in Bordeaux and the longest shopping street in Europe. You`ll find all the best French fashion along this road, but even better are all the little lanes off the main strip, full of quaint cafes and unique independent stores. The sight itself is beautiful!
In the evening, we recommend a visit to the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, the centerpiece of the Place de la Comédie, this is one of the city`s most emblematic buildings. Spend the evening enjoying a performance by the National Opera or National Ballet of Bordeaux. Place de la Comédie is a quaint yet bustling part of the city center and a great spot to enjoy a drink and bite to eat before or after the theater.
Day 3 in Bourdeaux
Start your day off by joining the locals for a taste of oysters and a sip of white wine as you stroll through the Marché des Capucins, the largest market in Bordeaux. You will find bakers, snack bars, restaurants, cheese, florists, wine merchants, oyster growers, fish mongers but also organic regional products as well as food from all over the globe, fruit and vegetables, and olives. Everything you need for a great picnic in town.
Alternatively, start your day off with a beautiful sail of the Garonne and see the city from the river! Various boats leave from Quai Louis XVIII with many different tour options.
For lunch, have a picnic in Jardin Public. This small oasis in the center of town is perfect to relax under the shade of one of the huge trees or stroll through and take in the flowers and lovely landscape. There is a great café situated in the park and lots of different areas to enjoy some time away from the tourist bustle.
It wouldn`t be a trip to Bordeaux unless you did a little wine tasting, whether that`s hiring a car to visit the local Chateaus, going to a wine tasting bar, or simply enjoying a wine tasting workshop. This is a must do and a perfect introduction to French wine and in particular the left and right bank variations.
If time allows, we recommend you visit one of the many museums Bordeaux has to offer. Some top choices we recommend are the Muséed`Aquitaine, which covers every aspect of local life, from prehistoric times to the 20th-century. Musée des Beaux-Arts is another amazing museum you won`t want to miss. This museum exhibits a wide range of western art from the 16th and 20th centuries, including works by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir Rubens and Veronese. Another lovely museum is the Musée des Arts décoratifs, a beautifully preserved private mansion dating from 1779 with displays of paintings, engravings, miniatures, sculptures, furniture, ceramics, glass and silverware. These are just a few mentioned amongst the many other museums this city has to offer.
In the evening we recommend you continue to check out the wine scene of Bordeaux. The Urban Wine Trail is solely dedicated to the best wine bars in the city. The suggested locations are handpicked either because of their beautiful terraces, their typical South-West delicacies, or their surprising wine list encompassing both local and international vintages.
After an adventuresome day and evening of exploring, head back to the hotel for a good night`s rest.
Additional Days in Bordeaux
Should you be able to spend additional days in Bordeaux head over to the village of Saint-Émilion located just a half hour away from Bordeaux. This town is known to most wine lovers for its Grand Cru wine and it`s actually one of Bordeaux`s largest winemaking appellations. Awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 1999, the medieval town is small but perfectly formed, offering visitors the ideal mix of history and excellent food and drink. It has deeply rooted history meaning it features spectacular architecture (including ruins) and is believed to have been put on the map when the Romans first planted vineyards in the area many, many centuries ago.
Alternatively, take an excursion into the Medoc, the beautiful towns extending north of Bordeaux, located in the department of Gironde, home to around 1,500 vineyards. Not only is this region famous for many of the finest wines in the world, it has more than 60 miles of fine sandy beaches.
Your Last Day in Bordeaux
Depart your hotel for the airport or train station where you will head home or make your way to more European adventures. Savor the memories of a very special time in Bordeaux in the south of France.