What Not To Miss In Bordeaux, France

There are many reasons to go to Bordeaux, but here are 10 things not to miss in this beautiful city.

The writer Stendahl claimed Bordeaux was “undeniably the most beautiful city in France”.  There are so many reasons to visit this beautiful French city, from history to architecture, shopping, food and of course wine.

Brunette on the rooftop of The Intercontinental Hotel Bordeaux
Renae on the magnificent rooftop of The Intercontinental Hotel Bordeaux

The city of Bordeaux has undergone a massive restoration program cleaning the buildings of pollution, and weather damage and upgrading the streets and facades to create beautiful, walkable, photographable streets. Cars have been banished from the centre of the city and replaced by trams.

You need at least 5 days to take in everything on offer in Bordeaux. Here are my tips for a fantastic holiday, and what not to miss in this exquisite French city.

The Intercontinental Hotel Bordeaux
  1. The Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel ; This elegant five star luxury hotel sits in the heart of the city opposite the stunning Opera House, a neoclassical jewel, with a classic Greek Temple facade,  and one of Bordeaux’s most beautiful historical buildings. The hotel also has a spectacular rooftop with 360 views over the city and a stunning indoor swimming pool. A room opposite the Opera House is a dream, and interiors are elegantly French.
  1. La Cite du Vin; This remarkable wine centre which opened in 2016 is worth a full day visit for wine lovers, and anyone intrigued by the history and development of wine globally. It is an architectural delight – it is designed to look like a wine carafe, and is packed with interactive experiences including 3D films, a tasting room, walking tours, Michelin star restaurants and so much more.
architectural building in bordeaux
Bordeaux, La Cite Du Vin

3. Fitness; This is one of the easiest French cities to walk, or cycle and everything is close plus the city is flat. Cars have been banished from the inner city, so you can easily walk 10,000 steps a day, and new cycle lanes mean cycling is not only easy but it is safe and some of the tourist sites are a bit too far to walk, so cycling makes everything easy and accessible. If you hit the wall with the fitness, a new tram system makes it easy to pick up the pace and get to your hotel in minutes.

4. The Mirror D’eau is the city’s water mirror – a cleverly created artistic reflecting pool that is the city’s most photographed piece. Every 15 minutes in summer the pool shoots out water and a cooling mist. It is beautiful at night when bathed in the golden light surrounding it and there are views of the Garonne river just steps away.

 The Mirror D’eau is the city’s water mirror
The Mirror D’eau is the city’s water mirror

5. The Canele is the local caramelised pastry I had eaten in Paris before, but was surprised at how different and how much better the original version was here in Bordeaux. Flavoured with sweet vanilla and rum with a custard interior, these are a necessary indulgence with a morning coffee. There are multiple different versions with different flavours – gorgeous.

6. Shop along one of Europe’s longest retail streets, Rue Sainte-Catherine at a mile long. This street literally fills with a sea of people every day shopping for the big name French brands as well as wine shops, supermarkets and high street chain stores. There are plenty of upscale bars and restaurants along the way, as well as sweet shops for some extra fuel.

Shop along one of Europe’s longest retail streets, Rue Sainte-Catherine
Shop along one of Europe’s longest retail streets, Rue Sainte-Catherine

7. Marche des capucins, the local food markets provide a relaxed and joyous way to discover the city’s best gourmet, local food. Packed on weekends, everything is available from freshly baked bread to cakes, local arcachon oysters, French tapas, vegetarian options and of course wines by the glass.

8. The local food. Bordeaux has everything a French foodie could dream of from a French city including delicious local chocolate, sweets and ice cream right up to Michelin Star Restaurants and even modern global food. It is famous for grilled duck breast, porcini mushrooms, duck foie gras, and lamb shoulder. The local arcachon oysters are superb, especially when paired with French Wine – of course.

9. The surrounding wine areas: The Medoc wine area has stunning scenery, and some of the world’s most famous wine chateaux. There are quirky London style cabs you can hire for a tour and many other tour options with fantastic passionate guides printed to reach visitors everything they know about Bordeaux and its wine history. There is also a brewery  as well as a whisky distillery to explore if you prefer.

Renae overlooking the Atlantic Ocean just outside Bordeaux.

10. The largest sand dune in Europe, the Dune du Pilat is an hour’s drive from Bordeaux or you can catch a train. It is well worth seeing, and ideally from the glamorous upscale hotel/restaurant Le Corniche designed by Philip Starck which overlooks the spectacular view, including sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and offers first class food and wine. Ideal at sunset, but book ahead for dinner. Paragliding is also an option in this area.

To Book The Very Best in Bordeaux, click here.

Click here for Renae’s insider tips on the French city of Lyon.

Bordeaux has incredible 18th century architecture.

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