If you are a wine lover, you should certainly know Bordeaux and its region. Situated in southwest France, where the famous Bordeaux wine is produced. Besides being a tourist destination, it is a university city and with an excellent infrastructure for the inhabitants and tourists.
Although it is a relatively small city – compared to Paris, it is usually quite busy and busy with activities all year round. Just below, you will find the main places to visit and, of course, useful addresses for a bottle of good wine and delicious French cuisine.
Must see places in Bordeaux
To start assembling your itinerary, I suggest you take 2 to 3 days to get to know Bordeaux and the surrounding area. I spent 3 days and wished I had stayed longer to explore this region better. So here’s the tip! 😉
Below I have listed the main places to visit in Bordeaux and other options if you are more relaxed about the weather. And of course, I put some suggestions for cities with wineries to make a day trip.
Wine museum in Bordeaux: La Cité du Vin
Housed in a modern building, the wine museum, or La Cité du Vin, is a fascinating place. Entirely dedicated to this millennial drink, the museum provides an authentic wine experience.
There are interactive screens that tell the story of the drink, as well as the various types and producing countries. There is also an interactive sensory space where you can learn about the different types of aromas and other elements of wine.
The visit ends on the top floor, where wines from all over the world can be tasted. You also can enjoy a view of the city. The standard visit ticket includes a glass of wine of your choice. If you want a little more, the museum offers several tasting workshops.
Tip: The museum is large, and the permanent collection is vibrant, so it is best to set aside at least two hours to make the full visit.
Tickets: from 20 €
Conceived by architect Victor Luis – the same as the one who designed the Palais Royal and Comédie Française in Paris, le Grand Théâtre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The building draws attention for its neoclassical façade, with twelve columns lined with the twelve statues at the top.
Currently, it is the official headquarter of the Bordeaux National Opera – and was once used by parliament – and one of the oldest wooden theater structures in Europe. It was never burned or rebuilt. Besides, details of its interior were used as inspiration for the construction of the Paris Opera.
Place de la Bourse & Water Mirror
Besides being known for its wine, the city of Bordeaux is also remembered for its large reflecting pool. It is considered one of the largest in the world. Regarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mirror is located in front of Place de la Bourse. It draws attention because it reflects the beautiful buildings of 18th-century French architecture, set in the square.
My tip is to see the mirror during the day and night. During the night, the city and buildings are illuminated, so you can better appreciate the reflection in the water. It’s beautiful!
One of the oldest towers in France, the Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux, is remnants of the fortification built as a defense of the city of Bordeaux. At the top of the tower is a large and heavy bell (7,750 kg), founded in 1775.
A curious thing is that this bell rings until today, but only on special occasions, among them: January 1st, July 14th, among others. The place was also used as a prison and is now open to the public for visitation.
Tickets: 5 €
One of the longest shopping streets in Europe, Sainte-Catherine Street, is 1200 meters long and has many cool shops to shop. On this street, you will find everything from famous department stores such as Zara and Mango, for example, to boutiques of local French brands. There are also several cafes and restaurants to rest.
When you are there, stop by the Galerie Bordelaise, a small old shopping center that still has remnants of 19th-century architecture.
Delightful and super quiet place, the public garden is a very green area great for a break, a picnic, or a picnic.
It has restrooms, benches, children’s toys, a library, and a small natural history museum. It is near the Girondins Monument and the Office de Tourisme.
Place du Parlement
Situated on the outskirts of the famous “water mirror,” the Parliament square was created in 1760. The place is relatively straightforward except for the fountain in the center of the square, which is rich in details and ornaments, with Italian style influences.
Just off the square is the Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre with its many bars and restaurants and can be an excellent place to eat or drink a good Bordeaux wine. 😉
Situated near Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, this museum is dedicated to the history of Bordeaux and its region, from prehistory to the present day. There is also an extensive collection of archaeological objects.
Tickets: 5 €
Cathédrale St-André e Tour Pey-Berland
The Cathedral of Saint Andrew is built with Gothic style and beautiful stained glass. It was the venue for the wedding ceremony of Aliénor d’Aquitaine with Louis VII, as well as Anne d’Autriche with Louis XIII.
A curiosity is that the cathedral took more than 400 years to build and, after that, has undergone several renovations and is now classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The next roasting was later built in the 15th century to install a bell.
Former gate to defend the city that was dedicated to King Charles VIII, for being responsible for the victory of the battle of Fornoue (Italy).
You can visit the tower, where there is lots of interesting information and, on the top floor, have a beautiful view of Bordeaux and the river that crosses the city, La Garonne.
Tickets: 5 €
Visit the Bordeaux region
Not only is the city of Bordeaux famous for its wine, but other small towns in the region also produce wines that are appreciated worldwide. Médoc and Saint-Emilion are some options. So once in the area, set aside at least one day to see one of the cities below:
Close to Bordeaux, less than an hour by train is the charming little Saint-Emilion. As I said earlier, it is also known worldwide for its wines, ranked on an official list since 1955.
On a day trip, you can wander the alleys with buildings from centuries past and, most notably, visit the Châteaux and their wineries. For these visits, I advise you to book in advance on the internet. Some are very crowded and hard to get on the spot. On the Saint-Emilion tourism website, you will find a list of Châteaux and contact information.
If you have not booked online (this was my case) or do not have much time to make several visits. There is a guided train that leaves the city, goes through the wineries, and stops at a winery for a quick tour, wine tasting, and time to shop.
The train ticket you buy at the Office de Tourisme in the city center, super easy to find. There you can also get other sightseeing tips and activities.
A beach town less than an hour from Bordeaux, Arcachon is a charm and a great place to eat fresh fish and seafood. To get there, you can rent a car or go by train (TER). Both options last about the same time, between 50 and 60 minutes.
⇒ Upon arrival in the city, go straight to the Office de Tourisme. There you will find city maps, relevant information, and guided tours of the region’s wineries.
⇒ The primary means of public transport in Bordeaux is the tramway, train in Portuguese. It works very well, and the ticket costs € 1.70. There is also a 1-day ticket that leaves € 4.70 and guarantees unlimited use of train and bus for 24 hours.
⇒ CityPass is a great option if you are considering exploring the city to the fullest. The pass includes admission to 20 museums and monuments, including the wine museum, public transportation, discounts, and more.
To continue exploring France:
Things to do in Reims: Weekend getaway guide!
Discover Giverny and Monet’s Gardens | Ideal guide for a day
What to see in Rouen: Roadmap ready for a 1-day round trip