The Best Things To Do In Bordeaux

Written By: Mercedes Taylor

It is a city with many faces from its distinctly English flavor right through to its reputation as a little Paris of sorts. But it is Bordeaux’s world-famous vintages which have placed it firmly on the map making it one of France’s top tourist destinations. The world’s number one wine producing city sits close to the Bay of Biscay, on the banks of the River Garonne which runs right through it. It is also located to the north of Bayonne, Pau and Toulouse, while Limoges lies to its northeast. With the opportunity for loads of fun activities such as touring its expansive Musée d’Aquitaine, indulging in retail therapy on its Rue Sainte-Catherine or attending the Bordeaux National Opera, there can be no doubt that your visit to Bordeaux is bound to be a thoroughly enjoyable one.

During your vacation in Bordeaux you will be able to go on wine tours, admire the engineering marvel that is Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas and stroll through the vast Esplanade des Quinconces. If you happen to be arriving from Paris, home to the glittering Eiffel tower by train, your trip will last approximately four and half hours while a journey from sunlit Nice would take about five hours. And while there are several choices for getting around in Bordeaux, bus and bicycle are two favorite options. It is also possible to explore the city by train, tram and ferry. One of the best places to embark on an adventure of discovery in the city is the vast Musée d’Aquitaine and thanks to the wealth of artifacts on display, you will come away extremely knowledgeable on the history of the city and the Aquitaine region. No visit to the world’s wine capital would be complete without a tour of La Cité du Vin, which once completed will leave you feeling like an expert on the city’s vintages.

Because nothing quite beats shopping on holiday, a visit to Rue Sainte-Catherine might just turn out to be one of the highlights of your vacation. It’s even better during sales season which takes place in February and July when you will be able to snag several delightful bargains. And one of the very best places for relaxing and enjoying a hint of tranquility after all your adventures is the Jardin Public. An elegant, English style garden, it is the perfect setting for settling down to a pleasant picnic right next to its lake.


Quinconces Square (Esplanade des Quinconces)

When you visit Bordeaux, you will come across Quinconces Square (Esplanade des Quinconces), a huge twelve-hectare open space on the bank of the river Garonne. The gardens are beautiful, with trees planted in a “quincunx” (you’ll see the unique shape) and with statues and monuments scattered through the park.


Pyla Dune (Dune du Pilat)

The Pyla Dune (Dune du Pilat) is nothing short of awe-inspiring. This magnificent natural beauty towers over you at 110-metres high and stretches into the distance for 2.7-kilometres, making it the largest sand dune in Europe! Head to the top by using the stairs, or for the fit, trek directly up through the sand! At the top, you are rewarded with magnificent views in all directions, and while taking a well-earned rest, watch the paragliders do their thing!


Place Royale (Place de la Bourse)

Dating back to the 1700’s, the Place de la Bourse (Place Royale) is a beautiful square set on the banks of the river Garonne. The square was an initiative to open the city and was considered quite radical at the time. Stay for a while and people-watch, or come in the evening to see the illuminated Fountain of the Three Graces.


Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum

Head to the Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum and explore the semi-underground cellars to learn about the famous French wine industry and its magnificent history. This fascinating journey is the story of the industry’s evolution, its trade, and the famous families that built it up to where it is today. Sample the wines and learn how to tell the difference between the varieties!


Basilica of Saint Michael (Basilique Saint-Michel)

As you approach Basilique St-Michel (Basilica of St Michael), the bell tower stands above you at 114-metres high, and the extravagant gothic architecture is nothing short of stunning. Explore the basilica, admire the altar depicting Saint Michael’s successful battle with the dragon, and then climb to the top of the bell tower for some amazing views over the city!


Garonne River

Flowing for over 600 kilometres, the Garonne River is an integral part of the transport system. It allows freight to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, without having to go through the Straits of Gibraltar! Stroll its banks, or take a cruise to see the sights – it’s a beautiful river to explore!


Arcachon Bay

Planning a wine tasting trip to Bordeaux? Sounds like fun! But after, say, a full week of visiting vineyards and sipping wines, it’s going to start to blur together and you may even start to get bored. No problem! Take a short drive to Arcachon Bay and you’re in one of the country’s most beautiful coastal regions! Ah, the problems one has when vacationing in France! 



Everywhere you turn in Bordeaux, exceptional wines are the principal attraction, and one of the most famous areas for wine is the northern region of Médoc. Renowned for its fine red wines and home to some of the most prestigious wineries in France, the region encompasses classified growing areas like Pauillac, Margaux, St Julien and St Estephe.



Pomerol is an undersized, wine-oriented village located about 45 minutes east of Bordeaux. But its relatively small size–just 2,000 acres–definitely isn’t an obstacle to quality; indeed, Pomerol has become one of the region’s most respected Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) over the second half of the 20th century, despite being slightly different from the strictly categorized, upmarket Bordeaux wines.



Saint-Émilion is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for the catacombs under the town, built on a beautiful spot overlooking the Dordogne valley. The steep cobblestone streets are lined with charming houses, fascinating Romanqesue ruins, and underground Monolithic church carved into the limestone.

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