You'll be raising your glass many times in Bordeaux, which is renowned for its wines, considered amongst the best in the world. As the capital of the department Gironde in the region Aquitaine, it has one million inhabitants in its metropolitan area at a 2008 estimate. After years of neglect, the former wet docks are the country's new hot spot, with a number of cafés, gardens, and museums springing up all the time. A lively university community of over 60,000, (Bordeaux Campus is the largest in France) establishes that Bordeaux is about more than just wine.
Bordeaux is considered a very tolerant and relaxed place - no one will bother you about your political beliefs, religion, or sexual orientation. The cultural, artistic, and music scenes are very vibrant. The city was ruled by the English for a long time, which is why Bordeaux seems to have an "English flair".
Bordeaux is often referred to as "Little Paris" and the rivalry between the "Bordelais" (people from Bordeaux) and "Parisiens" is a hot subject, so you may experience some heated arguments on the subject during your stay.
Bordeaux is a flat city, built on the banks of the Garonne River. It is also the largest French city by area and geographically one of the largest in Europe. The Garonne merges a dozen kilometers below the city with another river, the Dordogne River to form the Gironde Estuary, which is biggest estuary in France.
The city center is located west and south of the Garonne. To the east are a few hills - the only ones in the vicinity. These hills mark the beginning of an industrial zone and suburbs. Because it is a flat city, bicycles make excellent modes of transport, especially as the city has more than 580 km of cycle tracks. Bordeaux is among the most economically dynamic cities in France.
Due to the weakness of the subsoil, there are no skyscrapers in Bordeaux, which explains its sprawl. The center of the town has retained its traditional stone mansions and smart terraces, hence the reason behind the city being called "Little Paris".
Modern buildings can be found to the west (administrative center) and south (university) of the city.
Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport (IATA: BOD) (ICAO: LFBD),  is west of the city. It is a regional airport which serves mostly domestic flights, though there are international flights as well connecting Bordeaux to some European "hub" airports like Paris (Orly and Roissy), London (Gatwick and Luton), Madrid, and Amsterdam.
An express bus runs every 45 minutes to the city center, with stops on the demand. The same bus runs from Gare Saint Jean to the airport with three stops:
- . Office du Tourisme 12, cours du 30 juillet
- . Place Gambetta Arrêt 50-16-13 (devant le 38 & 39)
- . Barrière Judaïque (devant le 9 avenue de la République)
The fare is 7€, but a reduced fare for those under 26 or over 60 is available for 6€.
You can also take public transit (1.40€) from the airport to downtown. After you exit the airport "Arrivals" section, walk to the right and you will see a bus stop for route Number 1. This bus will take you directly to Gambetta (a short walk from the Hotel de Ville), or you can get off at "Lycée Mérignac" and take tramline A to the city centre.
Bordeaux is a historic city with many tourist attractions. The main districts are briefly presented here, which are listed according to their distance from the railway station.
- Les Quais— Great for going for a nice walk on the shores of the Garonne, enjoying a ride on a ferry boat, viewing a stunning landscape over the bridges of Bordeaux, or dancing the night away in the city's many nightclubs. The Aquitaine Bridge is an architectural achievement unique in France.
- The Jacques-Chaban-Delmas lift bridge ; located between the "Quais" and the "Aquitaine bridge". Opened in 2013, it features a liftable deck, which goes up to 53 meters (170 ft), to enable cruise ships and historical sailboats to dock close to the Quinconces Square.
- La Victoire— Historical monuments meet student life and bars.
- The Pedestrian Center — If you plan on shopping, or are looking for cultural activities, Bordeaux has a lot to offer - and it starts right here.
- Gambetta Square — The rich districts of Bordeaux start north - this part of the town is nicknamed "Little Paris".
- Quinconces Square — Be sure to check out the fountain monument to the Girondins, a group of moderate, bourgeois National Assembly deputies during the French Revolution..
- Meriadeck — The administrative center of Bordeaux, with one of the biggest libraries in France.
- Do not miss the Victory Arch (Roman architecture), at the center of La Victoire and a great example of the town's Roman roots.
- Relax and take a picnic in the lush Public Gardens, north of Gambetta square.
- The Girondins memorial on the Quinconces square is a fitting tribute to the Members of Parliament from Gironde who were guillotined by Robespierre.
- Musee D'Art Contemporain at 7, rue Ferrère. Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Modern Art. The Richard Long slate line-up on the roof is a permanent feature. Exhibits are always changing and the museum is an inspiring place for installations. The CAPC is open Tuesday to Sunday 11AM-6PM (to 8PM Wednesday), closed Monday; admission is €5.50 (£4), but free on the first Sunday of the month.
- Musee D'Aquitaine, 20, cours Pasteur. Stunning museum that exhibits Gallo-Roman statues and relics dating back 25,000 years. Hours- 11AM - 6PM Tue-Sun. Free entry for permanent collections; temporary exhibits cost around €5 for adults.
- Have a walk along the Sainte-Catherine street in the Pedestrian Center and enjoy the scenery.
- Consider crossing the bridges or taking the ferry boat over the river (see Les Quais).
- Climb the 243 steps of the tower of Saint-Michel, and enjoy the panoramic view of Bordeaux (entrance 5 Euro - free for EU nationals under 26).
- Spend some time at the miroir d'eau (water mirror) at the border of the river. Every now and then, it is filled with 2 cm of water, alternated with a cloud of mist.
- Have a drink and a dance at one of the many bars or clubs in Les Quais or La Victoire.
- Watch the ducks play in the big public park north of the center and escape from the city at the Jardin Botanique, Bordeaux's Botanical Garden. Around since 1855, the botanical garden is the perfect place to take a walk around its many paths, or just sit and relax. Guided tours are on offer, as well as occasional workshops and activities for children.
- Bordeaux gardens open: end March to end October - 8AM to 8PM; end October to end March - 8AM to 6PM. Bordeaux gardens admission is free.
- Fly a jet fighter . You can fly the L39 Albatros from Bordeaux International Airport. Starts at €1950.
- Musée du Vin et du Négoce, 41 rue Borie 333000 Bordeaux (down a narrow street, tram stop: Chartrons), ☎ 0556901913, . 10am-6pm. The petit Museum of Bordeaux Wine and Trade takes place in the building of a old wine merchant. Visitors can discover the history of the wine trade with artifacts, videos and a guided tour (by reservation) followed by a personal wine tasting and presentation of wines of the region by one of the multilingual staff. 5-7 euros.
Touring the vineyards and sampling the local wines are one of the greatest pleasures when visiting Bordeaux. It is the second largest wine-growing region in the world and produces over 800 million bottles annually. It produces some of the best and most prestigious wines in the world, some of the most famous being:
- Château Haut Brion
- Château Lafite Rothschild
- Château Latour
- Château Margaux
- Château Mouton Rothschild
- Château Ausone
- Château Cheval Blanc
- Château Grand Renouil
- Château du Pavillon
- Château Petrus
Tours are available through many operators. Alternately, call ahead for reservations. Note that Haut Brion and Mouton are closed for renovation in 2010, while Latour generally only accepts serious collectors and professionals.
If you are an individual you can take daily wine tours departing from Bordeaux and that head towards all the major vineyards of the region: Canon Fronsac,Saint Emilion, The Médoc, Graves and Sauternes... The excursions take place on board 8-seater fully equipped minivans and are taken care of by professional driver guides.
The annual summer wine festivals are held in tandem with the "Bordeaux-fête-le-fleuve"  celebrating the river, land, and international community. The most recent was held on 24-27 June 2010.
There are many tour operators for this region of France. They can organise your complete tour (including travel to and from Bordeaux and France) or they can arrange visits to wineries and château for you.
Bordeaux has made its wealth out of trade, and the local economic system relies heavily on shops and trading halls. The Pedestrian Center is basically full of stores of all kinds, from clothes to art, craftworks, food and wine etc. If you're looking for luxury items, head to Gambetta square and its surroundings.
Don't hesitate to buy some local music - Bordeaux music groups are on the rise! Check out Kap Bambino, an electronic music duo formed by singer Caroline Martial and beat-smith boyfriend Orion Bouvier.
Clothing is less expensive than Paris, so wear comfortable shoes and head to Rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian precinct in Europe and the best place for shopping.
For some cheap second-hand and vintage clothes, check out a shop called "Kilo Chic" on 40 Cours de la Somme. There are also a few AMOS second-hand stores in the city that offer a nice selection of second-hand and vintage stuff.
Of course, you can hardly leave Bordeaux, without taking home some of its beloved wine. Make sure you're aware of the customs rules at the airport.
Gastronomy has a very important place in the city, which is full of restaurants of all kinds. French restaurants provide dishes from almost every part of the country, and there are a lot of Asian, African or Arabian restaurants.
- Cafe du Port, 1, quail Deschamps, ☎ 05 56 77 81 18. It's dining with the ultimate view, the Left Bank on one side and the Pont de Pierre on the other. But it's not just the views that draw customers here in droves, the food's pretty good too. Especially consideing that the chef is the famed Phillipe Techoire. Under his command, you'll feast on beef rib roast, glass eye, and in the winter, roast pig's feet with mustard. Enjoy! A la carte 35€.
- Cassolette Cafe, 20 Place de la Victoire, ☎ 05 56 92 94 96, . Well priced and hearty food. Tick your items off on the menu placemat. If you're hungry, consider trying "la menu goutatout" - a choice of any 5 small dishes ("cassolettes") including desserts.
- Chez Greg, 30-31, quail de la Monnaine, ☎ 05 56 31 30 30. Serving tasty dishes such as a tartine of red mullet, the ambiance of this restaurant puts customers at ease with its Philippe Starck chairs and walls lined with wine bottles. Speaking of wine, the wine bar upstairs is great for pre and post dinner tastings.
- Couleurs Cafe, 28, rue Pere-Louis-de-Jabrun, ☎ 05 56 48 28 58. It's the perfect little French bistro where you can take a well earned pause from the days activities and graze on some tasty light fare. The salads with the homemade bread rolls are a great choice, or you can indulge in some of the decadent cakes on offer.
- FERNAND, 7, quai de la Douane, ☎ 05 56 81 23 40 ([email protected]). every day for lunch and dinner. An authentic bistro next to the "Place de la Bourse", on the waterfront in the old Bordeaux : an old wooden decor and a very pleasant terrace in front of the Garonne and the "Miroir d'eau"; you can enjoy a french cooking who follows seasons with beautiful products like seafood, oysters, wild fishes from Arcachon, "Blond d'Aquitaine" beef etc., all of those, served by a warm and pleasant welcome.
- La Tupina, 6, rue Pas-de-la-Monnaine, ☎ 05 56 91 56 37. Regional cuisine at its best. Fresh local produce served generously and heartily. Meals are served in a Basque ambiance, with country tablecloths and wood chairs. Try the corn fed Landes fowl, and you'll understand why this earned La Tupina the Second Best Bistro in the world by the International Herald Tribune. Fixed price 45 €, A la carte 46€.
- L'estaquade, Quai de Dueyries, ☎ 05 57 54 02 50. Situated on the Right Bank of the river (it is the building that just out over the water on stilts) you will get a great view of the Bordeaux waterfront at the same time as a delicious meal. Starters, Main Courses and Desserts start from 13,23,6 € respectively.
- Restaurant Soléna, 5, rue Chauffour (10 minutes from Centreville, Meriadeck, Hotel Mercure, Hotel Budigala, Tram Line A), ☎ 05 57 53 28 06, . Dinner, Wednesday- Saturday. Lunch and Dinner, Sunday.. New gastronomic restaurant owned and operated by a Franco-American couple dedicated to bringing farm fresh, local, sustainable produce of Southwest France to the table. Everything from the sauces to the ice cream and pastries are made in-house. Dining room is contemporary and organic, accented by Bordeaux limestone and French oak tables. Service is warm, friendly, without pretentiousness. Menu changes frequently according to season. Menu fixe 41+€.
For people on a budget, the area around the church of Saint Michel provides cheaper options.
Bordeaux is lively during the day and continues throughout the night. If you're looking for a bar to hang out with friends or to enjoy watching a football match, head for La Victoire, as most of the pubs and bars of the town are here. Virtually, all the shops in the surroundings of this area are bars, and you'll likely be able to find one that suits your needs.
If you prefer dancing or clubbing, most of the night-clubs are on the Quais, near the train station. From rock to disco, dance to techno, you also have a lot of choice.
While the entrance is free to the majority of the clubs, don't get there drunk or you will not be let in.
- Dick Turpin's, 72, Rue du Loup, ☎ 05 56 48 07 52 ([email protected]). One of the oldest English pubs in Bordeaux, popular with young and old alike. Decidedly good music. Charming view that looks out on the wisteria of the Historical Archives.
- El Chuchumbe, 6, rue Causserouge, ☎ 05 56 31 25 88. Best place to go for a salsa dance, head there around midnight when bodies really start shaking on the dance floor. They serve great mojitos as well to complement the mood.
- Le Frog and Rosbif, 23, Rue Ausone. English pub near La Garonne with an all-English staff. A popular hangout for those who want to catch football or rugby matches.
- Le Break, 23, Rue de Candale. A popular hipster-like bar just outside la place de la victoire which plays great music and attracts a younger crowd. Arrive early if you want to get a table during the weekend.
- Xing-Xing, 20, Rue Piliers de Tutelle. An animé/manga themed bar with a very fun atmosphere.
- Le Café Brun, 45, Rue Saint Rémi. An old-looking but very cosy bar with a huge offer of Belgian beers and Whiskies. Specializes in live jazz shows.
- Shadow Lounge International, 5, rue Cabanac, ☎ 05 56 49 36 93. The place to go for the young and trendy, Shadow possess a certain sexiness to its decor that is very appealing, even the restrooms are marble. The DJ spins the latest tunes while the hip clientele sip on very expensive drinks.
Most tourist hotels are close to the railway station (that is, close to the Quais). There are some luxury hotels close to Gambetta square and Quinconces square, which are really nice but rather expensive.
Bordeaux has a recently-built youth hostel, close to the railway station, which can be worth a visit for a few nights - remember to book in advance.
- Auberge de la jeunesse 22 cours Barbey. Tel: (+33)5/56 330 070, . Bordeaux's only hostel has decent facilities. Breakfast and bedding is included. Note that there is a lock-out between 2am and 5am so plan your night accordingly. €23 per person/night.
- Matthews Holidays, ☎ 0044 1483 285213, . Mobile Home holidays to 4* & 5* beachside campsites throughout France. Camping Palmyre Loisirs is just 51 miles from La Rochelle and is packed full of fun for all the family. You'll find a wonderful swimming pool complex with waterslides, tennis, table tennis, mini golf and so much more. There's even an extensive entertainment programme run throughout the summer months which all the family can get involved with..
- The Ibis Bordeaux St Jean 19, quai Paludate. Tel: (+33)5/56942525 . Very accessible from Gare St Jean railway station, the rooms are small but self contained. Basic but in a great location. Prices ranging from €53 to €90.
- A blue Lodge in Bordeaux 70, rue de Ségur 33000 Bordeaux, tel +33 (0)6 78 25 85 83. Lovely guestrooms into a preserved and typical house from Bordeaux : a 19th century "échoppe" with garden. Located on the Tramway B line leading to the historical city centre. Also direct from the train station with bus N°9. Easy and free parking. Close to Universities and Victoire.
- Citadines Centre Meriadeck Bordeaux, 25, rue Jean Fleuret, ☎ +33 5 57 01 62 70 ([email protected], fax: +33 5 56 24 50 83), . The residence is between the new business area and a few minutes walk from the historic centre of Bordeaux. Its 118 apartments range from two-person studios to one-bedroom apartments, all have a bathroom with separate toilet, kitchen and TV with satellite channels. Daily rates starts from €63.
- Tulip Inn Bordeaux 4, rue Martignac and 11, rue Mautrec, tel 05 56 48 00 88. Charming 18th century hotel, with fine furnishings throughout the hotel, with mahogany furnishings and beech furniture. Close to the Grand Theatre and the Triangle d'Or.
- L'Avant-Scene***, 36 rue Borie 33000 Bordeaux, Phone number: 00.33.5.57.29.25.39 / Fax 00.33.5.57.29.25.40, contact: [email protected]
- Hotel de Normandie, 7-9, cours du 30- Juillet, tel 05 56 52 16 80. While the rooms are rather bland, the location and views of the Place des Quinconces from the rooms are stunning.
- Bordeaux Apartment, 31 rue Cornac, . City centre apartment for two people with all mod cons and large balcony.
- Regent, the only five-star hotel in Bordeaux, is located near the Bordeaux theatre. Includes the Michelin-starred restaurant le Pressoir d'Argent and many casual cafes where you can savour the local cuisine. Rooms are impeccably decorated, and include separate marble bathrooms. Approximately 350 Euros for a superior room, about 20 square meters. 2-5 Place de la Comedie 33000 Bordeaux. Tel: +33 05 57 30 44 44 .
- The Sofitel Bordeaux hotel is close to the banks of the Bordeaux lake, near the Convention center. There is a private swimming pool. 1 Avenue Jean-Gabriel Domergue in Bordeaux le Lac. Tel: + 33 05 56 69 66 66, .
- Burdigala, 115, rue Georges-Bonnac, tel +33 05 56 90 16 16. Displaying a European elegance, the Burdigala attracts a cosmopolitan clientele that appreciates its multi-lingual staff and spacious rooms complete with marble bathrooms. Hotel also hosts long term stays.
- Mercure Libertel Claret, 18, parvis des Chartons, tel +33 05 56 01 79 79. More than just a luxury hotel, the Mercure also features a wine bar that showcases 200 different wines from all over the world. The spacious rooms have all been renovacted and display a subtle elegance.
- Petit Hotel Labottiere, 14, rue Francis-Martin, tel +33 05 56 48 44 10. Listed as a historical monument, this 18th century hotel exudes opulence and style. Luxurious furnishings abound but with a modern level a comfort. Well worth the indulgence.
Bordeaux is covered by the three major telecommunication operators in France : France Telecom (Orange), Bouygues, and SFR. If you have a GSM cellphone with an international subscription, you should be able to give calls from anywhere in the city. It is also possible to find phone cabins, but some have been removed recently due to their decreased usage.
As for internet access, there are a few cybercafes in the pedestrian center, which are not expensive (from 2 to 4 euros per hour).
Most restaurants also offer free Wi-Fi.
Bordeaux is not a city with a high crime rate. If you respect some simple rules, you shouldn't have any problems.
- Beware of pickpockets, mostly in crowded buses and in the pedestrian streets. Do not leave any luggage out of view as it might disappear. If you're taking the bus with a backpack, it's better putting it between your feet than keeping it on your back.
- Do not go to clubs or bars alone at night. If you are meeting with friends, meet outside the bar/club. It's easier to get inside when you're a pack.
- As another general rule, do not accept drinks offered by people you don't know, as some people may drug you and abuse you afterwards. There were several cases reported in Bordeaux. Take drinks directly at the bar or from the waiter.
- Greece, 95 Rue Ducau, ☎ +33 557-870476 (fax: +33 556-792229).
There are a lot of interesting things to see close to Bordeaux.
- North: The Medoc region, where some of the famous Bordeaux wines are produced. The first growths Château Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Château Margaux and Chateau Mouton Rothschild are all located in the Medoc. If you are planning a tour to a chateau, keep the following in mind: (1) call ahead and make a reservation; (2) Chateau Latour generally only accepts serious collectors and professionals; and (3) Chateau Mouton Rothschild is closed for renovation during 2010, the chai is a five-meter hole as of this writing.
- West: To the west, you will end up at the Atlantic Ocean, with over 250 kilometers of golden sand beaches accompanied by a sea of unspoilt pine forests; there are a lot of very nice-looking little towns close to the sea, including Arcachon, sea-side town, noted for its oyster production. You can take a train from Gare de Saint Jean in Bordeaux to Arcachon for around 7 euros, the train takes between 40 and 50 minutes. The Hourtins' Lake, the biggest fresh water water lake in France, is located there. In summer, its a paradise to go swimming or cycling in the pine-tree woods of that area. Near Arcachon is the biggest sand dune in Europe– very interesting, especially when you travel with small children.
- East: Here you will find Saint Emilion, a well known AOC (c.f. Saint-Émilion AOC) surrounding the UNESCO Heritage village by the same name (c.f. UNESCO World Heritage List). Here, the most famous chateau are Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc. Nearby, in the Pomerol AOC, lies Château Petrus. In addition, the Entre-deux-Mers between the Garonne river and the Dordogne river has a large variety of old castles and wineries that produce Bordeaux Superieur wines.
- South: The Graves region, which includes some of the oldest vineyards. Two famous estates are Château Haut-Brion (closed for renovation in 2010) and Château La Mission Haut-Brion. To the southeast lies Sauternes, which produces one of the most famous dessert wines in the world, Château d'Yquem. This area is the most interesting for historical tourism, with many beautiful towns and historical monuments open to the public. Towns: Bazas, Saint Macaire, Uzeste,Cadillac. Castles: Chateau de Roquetaillade , Villandraut ,Malle, Fargues, Cazeneuve.
To reach those places, you can use either the regional railways (TER) or inter-city bus lines (which often go where trains do not). By car, all these areas are less than an hour from Bordeaux.
The whole region is covered with well organized bike or walking trails which let you discover the countryside.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!