Things to do in… Bordeaux

Pont de Pierre

Of course, everyone is well aware that Bordeaux is one of the regions in France that is particularly well known for its wine. However, although this is a very nice thing to appreciate whilst you are there, there are so many more things to be discovered in this beautiful place, and just how much there is to see may even come as a bit of a shock to some people.

Cruises around the Mediterranean are a particular favourite of mine when it comes to choosing where to go for my summer holiday, although I must admit that when I saw that Bordeaux appeared on my itinerary, I was a little underwhelmed, and concerned about how exactly I would occupy myself for the 8 hours spent in port, rather than just staying on the cruise ship. After all, drinking wine all day was not exactly an option! But how wrong I was…

You must go to Bordeaux to visit this beautiful city as a whole though, as no single part of it will do it justice. It is much less exuberant than any other city in France, but there is certainly no lack of elegance. Of course, it does and will probably always remain a capital for wine trading, but this obviously makes it a very appealing place for many to visit.

Maison du Vin is the headquarters of the Bordeaux wine trade, and is situated deep in the heart of Bordeaux. A helpful guide will give you facts and advice about the various wine regions in France and offers tasters of different kinds, from soft fruity reds to dry whites, to help you decide where the best suited place is for you to explore; so it really is quite tailor made. Visiting a vineyard was something I always thought would be boring, but is a great experience. When you’re done with the famous wines though, the tourist office is right across the street from here, so it’s your time to start exploring.

Among the many beautiful buildings in Bordeaux, I discovered the Cathédrale St-André. It isn’t exactly the best example of the many gothic buildings on display throughout France, but it certainly has character. The stone carvings are brilliant and you can climb to the highest point, which will give stunning views of the city. It is so peaceful and definitely a camera moment.

If history, art and architecture are of interest to you, and the cathedral leaves you wanting more, there are plenty of museums in this compact city to keep you busy, including one specifically for contemporary art, and others that will take you on a journey through the ages of its deep history. Finally, a must-see is the Pont de Pierre. Up until 1965, this was the only bridge that crossed the River Garonne, and offers visitors a great view of the picturesque quayside.

If you are done with all the facts and history your brain can take though, it might be time to grab yourself something to eat. An amazing little place that I discovered when I stopped for lunch in Bordeaux was Café Franҫais; a bistro right by the cathedral, which offers delicious food based on regional specialities and is all available at very reasonable prices – in terms of French food this place is very hard to beat! What makes it even better? There is even seating available on the terrace, which would be perfect for either a romantic dinner date or even a lunch with friends. If you do eat inside though, it is not disappointing. With large mirrors and plush curtains, it is usually busy but still with a nice atmosphere to enjoy.

If you have the time or the energy left, your day can be rounded off nicely with a spot of shopping. There are fantastic wines and cheeses readily available; a foodie’s idea of heaven. Fashion is important too, and so if it’s clothes you are looking for, you can still find some fantastic places. Bordeaux certainly is a fantastic example of the French way of life.

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