Bordeaux Travel Guide

Filed under Destination Guides, travel

Words: Winsor Dobbin


Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world; a city of style and charm that hosts Vinexpo, the world’s largest wine fair, and is surrounded by vineyards producing wines in a wide range of styles.

But there is a lot more to Bordeaux than just wine. It is one of France’s most beautiful and historic cities – known as  the “City of Art and History’  – and has been reinvigorated in recent years by a scheme that has cleaned up the once-grimy city centre.

Bordeaux is noted for its 18th-century architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is blooming thanks to the energy of mayor (and ex French Prime Minister) Alain Juppe, in charge since 2006.

The quays along the Garonne River are once more alive and in June Bordeaux marked the official opening of the dramatic Cité du Vin, which is a combined museum, exhibition space, tasting facility and movie theatre devoted to the world of wine. From the Belvedere, 35 metres up, visitors can enjoy 360 degree views of the city.  

And is much as Bordeaux is about wine, it is also a great city for foodies, who flock to the Marché de Quais, a superb gourmet producers’ market, held every Sunday along the Quai de Chartrons on the riverbank.

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Many of Bordeaux’s attractions can be found in and around the city centre, which dates back to Roman times, when known as Burdigala. The old and the new combine impressively here. The city is encircled by vineyards including the Medoc, home to fine red wines, and Sauternes, known for its benchmark sweet wines.

Cité du Vin

This architecturally stunning building on the banks of the Garonne is Bordeaux’s newest attraction. Opened in June, 2016, it is a uniquely French cultural facility over 10 levels where visitors can learn about (and taste) wines using what is described as “an immersive, sensorial approach”. It is a journey across cultures and civilisations.

Mirroir d’Eaux

On the river bank next to the Place de la Bourse (stock exchange), the Mirroir d’Eau is the largest reflecting pool in the world – and is particularly impressive at night. Reflecting both the sun and the historic buildings, this area adjacent to the former royal palace is popular for a morning or afternoon stroll.

St Andre’s Cathedral

In the heart of old Bordeaux, the cathedral is both dramatic and historic. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a stop for pilgrims en the route to Santiago de Compostella. It was consecrated in 1096 but only one original wall remains. Most of the building dates from the 14th – 15th centuries and is adjacent to the Pey-Berland tower.

Place de Quincones

Covering 31 acres, Quinconces is the largest square in Europe and has several monuments and fountains, including the Monument  Aux Girondins column built from 1894-1902 to honour local patriots who died during the French Revolution. In summer, circuses are held here. The area is a major transport hub with two tramlines intersecting.

City tours

Take an exploratory journey either by bus, the ubiquitous “petit train” or on the modern tramway system, to take in some of the city’s 362 historic monuments (second only to French capital Paris). Some buildings survive from Roman times and there are a massive number of impressive edifices from the 18th century.  

The Public Garden

Created in the 18th century, Bordeaux’s golden era thanks to the wine trade, the 11-hectare Jardin Public in the leafy Chartrons and Saint-Seurin districts is a green space that has morphed from formal garden to a more English-style space with a pond and ducks.

Guignol Guerin

It doesn’t get much more French than this show featuring traditional puppets. Founded in 1853, Guignol Guerin is the oldest puppet theatre in France and features tales of everyday French life using wooden marionette characters dressed in colourful costumes. Great for a day out with kids.

Visit vineyards

Take a tour to one of the many vineyard regions that surround Bordeaux. The medieval village of Saint-Emilion, 35km away, is a very good day-trip destination, a lively but beautiful old commune dotted with wine bars, restaurants, old churches and small hotels.

Head to Arcachon

Arcachon Bay, 65km out of Bordeaux, is a marine sanctuary known for the quality of its oysters.  The nearby and spectacular Dune Du Pilat is the largest sand dune in Europe. Besides oysters, the bay has many seashells, spectacular bird life. The town of Arcachon is a popular resort.

The Wine School

Bordeaux’s riches were all built on wines sent around the world from the region’s vineyards. Taste and learn over two hours or seven days at the Ecole du Vin, which offers a range of tasting workshops and is right in the centre of town opposite the tourism office.



Bordeaux offers a wide range of hotel options, from grand palaces to elegant older-style hostelries to ultra-modern hip hangouts. Most of the leading business and leisure hotels are in the easily-traversed city centre, close to major attractions, but there are also several excellent choices in the vineyard regions.

Aparthotel Adagio Bordeaux Gambetta

Overlooking Parc Gambetta square and just a short stroll to Place Gambetta, it is a modern, functional 4-star apartment hotel with 111 units in various configurations from studio to two-bedroom. Prices are affordable and there is an on-site gym and sauna. Apartments have equipped kitchens for self-catering.   

Yndo Hotel

A little slice of stylish chic in the city, Hotel Yndo is a boutique five-star property that prides itself on individualised service. A re-purposed 19th-century mansion, it has a private garden, dining room and terrace and all the rooms are styled differently with a quirky touch. The property is dotted with eclectic artworks.

Intercontinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel

If you want to be central to the action, surrounded by the cool people, this is the top hotel in town. An effortlessly stylish 5-star property, its located in an 18th-century building opposite the Grand Theatre. The renowned (and starred) Pressior de Argent (Gordon Ramsay) is just one of its several restaurants and bars. And there is a spa.

Le Boutique Hotel

A chic 4-star small hotel situated in an 18th-century home of a noble family, it offers a very French experience. Once a rendezvous for high society, it offers rooms/suites in a range of styles and has its own wine bar with a selection of local bottles.  Think personalised tastings with a sommelier, or in-room massages.

Le Grand Maison de Bernard Magrez

A grand 5-star hotel with its own two-Michelin-star restaurant, this is a meeting place of global gastronomes. Arts patron Magrez is the owner of four wine chateaux in the region. Think refined and elegant rooms in the style of the Emperor Napoleon (just six in all) and a menu overseen by legendary Pierre Gagniare.  


One of the city’s modern architectural landmarks, the Seeko’o on Quai des Chartrons opened in 2007. A 4-star hotel, across from the Garonne, it often offers a view of river cruise ships. Seeko’o has just 38 rooms, including a spectacular “panoramic suite” on the fifth floor, and is home to a popular cocktail bar.

Hotel de Tourny

A very elegant and centrally situated boutique hotel with just 12 ultra-comfortable rooms, the Tourny is close to most of Bordeaux’s key attractions and has an intimate atmosphere befitting its setting in an 18th-century hôtel-particulier or grand town house. It is popular with guests seeking discretion and low-key luxury.

Hotel Burdigala – MGallery Collection

Located just a couple of blocks from the city centre, the Burdigala is one of the best 5-star addresses. It is gracious and understated, renovated a couple of years ago, with helpful service from professional staff and comfortable, well-equipped rooms, along with outstanding breakfasts in the on-site restaurant.

Pullman Bordeaux Lac

In an area popular with conference goers, the 4-star Pullman offers an alternative for those who do not enjoy city hustle and bustle. Next door to the ornamental lake, city conference centre and Théâtre Barrière Casino, it is around 15-20 minutes from the city by tram and has a heated pool and gym.

Mama Shelter

One of a chain of funky urban resorts created by the Trigano family (who launched Club Med), Mama Shelter has quirky décor by Philippe Starck and although its rooms are relatively small it is a lively and affordable option in the centre of the city. The hip rooftop bar and restaurant are popular.



While Bordeaux is a global city, both local chefs and visitors tend to focus on regional flavours. Many restaurant menus, as is usual in France, change in rhythm with the seasons. Expect to find lots of seafood; rich dishes made from duck and goose, and local sweet treats known as canelés.  

La Tupina

A favourite of those in the wine trade, convivial La Tupina serves rustic and hearty regional cuisine. Think south-west dishes like salad of duck hearts followed by escalope of veal with creamed spinach and a fresh pear tart, or maybe an entire veal kidney with mustard. Good wines; friendly service.


L’Embarcadère, which means pier, specialises in mouth-wateringly fresh fish. There is atmosphere plus at this bustling spot in the heart of the old city, which mirrors the ambiance of classic 1950s Paris bistros. Think oysters or langoustines. The sole meuniere is very good and the wines affordable.  


Chef Guy Tanguy Laviale serves exceptional modern French cuisine that has the critics in raptures. His casual bistro style of cooking features dishes like scallops with creamy wild mushrooms and veal medallions with praline, pears and cockles, served with squid ink gnocchi. A hip gourmet hangout.

La Grande Maison Bernard Magrez

Uber chef Joel Robuchon was replaced in June by another French culinary legend in Pierre Gagnaire. This is arguably the best fine dining destination in Bordeaux, part of Relais & Chateaux. La Grande Maison picked up two Michelin stars in the 2016 guide and offers a traditionally serious experience.

Le Gabriel

Serving traditional French food over three levels in a heritage-listed 18th-century building overlooking the Place de la Bourse, this has been popular since opening in 2009. There’s an elegant gourmet restaurant offering a modern take on traditional region flavours, a casual bistro and a bar specialising in Champagnes.    

Le Pressoir d’Argent

An ultra-luxe grand dining room with a seafood theme and a menu created by chef Gordon Ramsay. Expect a serious, expensive, gourmet experience accompanied by fine wine. Ramsay and chef Gilad Peled earned a Michelin star in their first year. A maximum of 60 covers per night.


There is often a line outside this restaurant, which has just one main course. Part of a small chain, it offers a salad with nuts, a thinly cut steak with sauce and an unlimited amount of chips. There’s a wide choice of desserts but it is the reliability of the steaks that’s the drawcard.

Le Quatrième Mure

Former rugby player Philippe Etchebest built his reputation at Chateau Grand Barrail and won two Michelin stars at L’Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint-Emilion. He’s a TV star whose very chic new brasserie next to the Opera House has pulled in huge crowds since it opened in September, 2015.


In a setting that screams rustic chic, Jerome and Harmony Billot craft some of the most inventive cuisine in Bordeaux. The couple spent many years working in Hong Kong and that is reflected in a menu “inspired by Hong Kong and Asia in general”. Think trout with yuzu or veal served “Hainan-style”.

Restaurant Jean Ramet

This central restaurant specialises in south-west gastronomy with a focus on the fresh oysters sourced from Arcachon Bay served with crepinettes, small local sausages. Ramet highlights cep and chanterelle mushrooms during the season and other regional dishes like rich pâtés and terrines.



As you’d expect in a city that was built on the wine trade, Bordeaux is dotted with wine bars offering not only local drops but also wines from around the world. A local licensing law, however, means wine bars are not allowed to serve wine unless it is accompanied by at least one dish (no matter how small).


A wine bar, a restaurant, wine shop and luxury grocer rolled into one, but owner Fabrice Moisan’s focus is very much on wine with 1,300 labels to choose from including many old and rare bottles.  Think vertical tastings and dishes like local scallops with truffle, or slabs of rich foie gras.

La Ligne Rouge

This wine bar in the old city boasts a selection of “wines of the world and beyond”.  That means a range of French and imported wines, many of them organic or biodynamic, with at least 12 available by the glass. The wines are accompanied by charcutuerie or cheese plates.

Aux Quatre Coins du Vin

There are around 40 wines available by the glass (tasting pour, half glass or full glass) via high-tech Oenomatic machines in this busy, friendly place (and the selection always includes some overseas interlopers). There is something in everyone’s price range and the bar snacks are outstanding.

Wine More Time

With a constantly evolving wine list, this is both a wine shop and a wine bar with a selection of around 400 wines from all over France at affordable prices, many sourced from the proprietor. For more serious wine lovers there are courses and tastings. Also a good selection of global beers and spirits.

Le Bar à Vin du CIVB

This is the official wine bar of the Bordeaux Wine Council, an entertaining and educational place for a glass or two whether you favour reds, dry and sweet whites or rosés. There are at least 30 wine available by the glass with trained sommeliers on hand to answer questions.

Books and Coffee

When all that wine becomes too much, Books and Coffee, in a post-industrial space, is renowned for serving some of the best coffees and teas in Bordeaux. This breakfast and brunch café with an outside terrace offers tea and coffee tastings and also bulk sales.

Ibaia Café

On the Quai de Chatrons, overlooking the Garonne River, this is a very cool place for a cocktail, glass of wine or quick meal as cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers and skateboards roll by. Think great views, tapas plates with a glass of wine, or meals with a Basque country accent.

Jaqen Craft Beer

Yes, it is possible to find a good beer in wine-centric Bordeaux. This minimalist space open less than 12 months, offers a range of artisan beers by the bottle and has at least six on tap. Think Les Brasseurs du Grand Paris or Brasserie Correzienne. Busy with a hip crowd at weekends.   

La Diplomate

Surprisingly, Bordeaux has several shops specialising in teas from around the world, and this is arguably the best – with its own tea room. Locals rave about the relaxed atmosphere and friendly service and there is also free wifi for customers while they enjoy a cuppa.

Le Wine Bar

A small, friendly wine bar noted for its helpful staff and good-value snack plates. In the characterful St Pierre district, it offers around 340 different labels, many available by the glass, and the range includes Bordeaux, rest of France, Italy and wines from around the world.



Bordeaux is a shopper’s paradise with the major fashion chains joined by small independent stores and a selection of markets offering goods ranging from fresh foods to bric-a-brac. The heart of the city is Rue Sainte-Catherine, a 1.2km pedestrian-only strip that is one of the longest shopping streets in Europe.

Marché des Quais

This producers’ market is held every Sunday along the Quai de Chartrons. Join local foodies sniffing, prodding and tasting gourmet gear from around the south-west: artisan breads and pastries; chickens, seafood, fresh paella, seasonal cheeses, fruits and vegetables, along with local beers, wines and ciders.

Fromagerie Deruelle

The favourite cheese shop of the city’s movers and shakers, it offers a wide range of mature cheeses and also sells deli specialities like pâté en croute and rustic sausages. More than 100 cheeses in wheels, slabs, and wedges are on display and Deruelle specialises in small farm and artisan cheeses.

Michard Ardillier

In business for over 140 years – and in Bordeaux since 1978 – Michard Ardillier on Rue Sainte-Catherine is where the well-heeled ladies and gents of the city come to buy their shoes. You’ll find over 2,000 different styles here, personalised service and over 100 different brands.

Marché du Capucins

The biggest market in Bordeaux, and one of the oldest, this covered market has a history that dates back to 1749. Today you’ll find butchers, bakers, chocolatiers, charcutiers, cheese mongers, fishmongers, fruit and vegetable merchants, even an organic section, open from Tuesdays until Sunday mornings.  


The French have sweet tooths and this artisan chocolatier with a history dating back to 1826, serves delights like pure malt whisky ganache chocolates, house-made pâté de fruits and fruit confits, as well as nougat dipped in dark chocolate from a store that has an an old-style charm.    

Le Comptoir Bordelais

Looking for some gourmet treats to bring home from your trip? This is the place. It is chock-a-block full of bottles of olive oil and mustards, selections of chocolate-coated raisins and canelés, as well as a range of local aperitifs like Lillet and Le Belle Helene, whiskies, rums, biscuits and vinegars.  


Want to bring home a couple of wines, but not sure what to choose? L’Intendant has over 15,000 bottles over five levels, and offers advice to customers, as well selling magnums and older vintages. The most affordable wines are on the ground floor. Prices rise as you ascend floors.

Passage Saint-Michel

A former banana warehouse is the place to come for antiques or objets d’art.  You’ll find 18 designers and second-hand dealers and at weekends there is a nearby flea market. A visit has been described as “a step back in time”. Browse through jewellery and objects stretching from the 18th century onwards.


Searching for something different as a gift? W.A.N (We Are Nothing) specialises in products made from recycled materials. So whether you are looking for a handbag, a unique metal sculpture, or maybe just a bar of soap, this is the place to discover something interesting.   

Marché aux Puces

The Sunday flea market in the Saint-Michel quarter proves that one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. Everything from old books to furniture, posters and old jewellery to pots and pans is laid out on Duburg Square and Quai des Salinières every Sunday from 7 am to 4 pm.   



Bordeaux, with a population of just 250,000, is an easy city to get around for pedestrians and there are plenty of green spaces to enjoy, even in the city centre. The vineyards out of town are ideal for walking and hiking and there are several good golf courses in the vicinity.

Go cycling

Bordeaux is extremely flat and is regarded as one of the best cities in the world for cyclists, who can pick up a bike for hire at any of the 160 Vcub hire stations dotted around the city. It costs E2 an hour to borrow one of the 1,700 bikes on offer – and Bordeaux has extensive bike lanes.

Walking the quays

You’ll find many locals getting their daily exercise by walking the wide and pedestrian-only quays that stretch along the banks of the Garonne River. There are several kilometres of walkways and cycle paths – and the waterfront strip also contains several small garden areas.

L’Orangerie in the Public Garden

The Jardin Public, created in 1746, is a lovely green area for a stroll – similar in style to the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. It is a little slice of the country in the city. After exercising you can enjoy a juice under the sun umbrellas at this terrace café.   

Golf du Medoc

There are two 18-hole courses at the Golf du Médoc resort; Les Châteaux, which has hosted the French Open, and Les Vignes. Les Châteaux is inspired by the links courses of Scotland. Each hole is named after a wine producer. Les Vignes was built in a former pine forest.

Parc Bordelais

The biggest green space in Bordeaux, the Parc Bordelais, is n the Cauderan district, and is extremely popular with walkers and joggers. Opened in 1888, it is a place where locals come to play sports or picnic. Wild ducks and swans live on a lake that contains fish.


Swimmers and sunbathers can enjoy a beach overlooking the city’s urban lake – but only in summer. Bordeaux-Lac, to the north of the city, is easily reached by tram. The district contains a camping site, sailing and rowing clubs, a fitness trail, golf course and a new football stadium.

Botanical Garden de la Bastide

Walkers are very fond of the new Botanical Garden, which covers four hectares on the right bank of the Garonne River, opposite the city centre. Here you’ll find several replicas of regional landscapes, including forests, vegetable gardens, wild flowers and picnic areas.

Arès salt marshes

At the tip of the bay between Arcachon and Lége-Cap Ferret are 200 hectares of salt marshes, with dunes, forest, marshland and mud flats offering some challenging walks which change seasonally. A chance to escape the tourist areas and commune with nature.  

River Garonne Quay Run

This is a 6.7 km running route along Bordeaux’s renovated quays. It crosses the two main bridges in the city, the old Pont de Pierre and the brand-new Chaban Delmas. From the right bank of the Garonne there are excellent views of the UNESCO classified city.

Saint-Emilion Bike Tour

Spend a full day exploring the beautiful vineyard region surrounding UNESCO heritage-listed Saint-Emilion on a guided and organised bike tour that includes a train or minibus trip from Bordeaux, a walking tour and a chance to cycle through the vines with lunch and wine tastings included.



Bordeaux’s arts scene has flourished in the past decade as the city has developed from a busy town to a cosmopolitan city. The city is home to traditional theatres, galleries and museums as well as to alternative artists, performance spaces, sculptors, musicians and street artists.

Grand Theatre de Bordeaux

Dramatic both inside and out, this grand old building in the centre of town was opened in 1780 and has hosted both ballet, opera and theatre productions. Today the theatre is home to two acclaimed companies: the Opera National de Bordeaux and the Ballet National de Bordeaux.

L’Espace 29

This gallery helps promote emerging contemporary artists by providing them with gallery space. It features an exhibition area and offers a residency to one guest artist each summer. It is home to the works of around two dozen painters, sculptors, photographers, video artists and designers.    

Musée des Beaux-Arts

One of the most important art galleries outside of Paris, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux was established in 1801 and contains paintings, sculptures and drawings. Artists represented include Rubens, Matisse, Brueghel and Reynolds. A new building is scheduled to open in 2020.

CAPC Museum

A former wool-shed is now the base of the Museum of Contemporary Art, opened in 1973 and one of the largest collections of modern art in Europe. There are regular rotating exhibitions, lectures and classes for children, as well as guided tours in both French and English.


With an open-space design in warehouses of the former Niel military barracks, this is a space shared by 130 companies and associations with common goals of reduced environmental footprints and urban culture. There is an organic deli/eatery, an urban farm and a BMX track.

Museum of Decorative Arts and Design

This striking museum is housed in the Hotel de Lalande, one of the most spectacular town houses in Bordeaux and built in 1779. The collection of historic furniture, paintings, ceramics, glassware, miniatures and musical instruments (many from the 18th and 19th centuries) was first displayed in 1925.

Les Vivres d’Art

A derelict 18th-century building in the port district that once sold marine supplies has been transformed by sculptor Jean-Francois Buisson into a dramatic space that now is used as an art gallery and creative studios, as well as providing accommodation for rising artists.

Musée d’Aquitaine

The Aquitaine Museum is one of the biggest and most important museums in regional France and is housed in a building that was previously the Bordeaux University faculty of arts and humanities. Opened in 1987, the museum tells of the growth of the region from prehistoric times.

Bernard Magrez Institute of Contemporary Art

The omnipresent arts patron Bernard Magrez displays his personal collections (and other public and private collections) in the Hôtel Labottière, a private mansion dating from the 18th century. The focus here is largely on living artists and there are regular artists-in-residence programs.

Espace Culturel du Pin Galant

This modern and busy theatre complex, in the suburb of Mérignac near Bordeaux Airport, offers a diverse performance schedule, including classic and modern dance, theatre performances, jazz concerts, comedy acts and live music. It was inaugurated in 1989 by singer Charles Aznavour.



The Aquitaine region in which Bordeaux is located hosts a huge range of food and wine festivals, sporting events, crafts fairs, arts and cultural events and parades throughout the year (although mainly in summer). If you enjoy a party, these are well worth putting in your travel diary.

Bordeaux Wine Festival

Held each June, this festival is held on the quays on the banks of the Garonne River over four days and nights with booths stretching 2km offering public tastings. These run from 11am-midnight and in addition to the open-air wine trail there concerts, son et lumiere shows, fireworks and concerts.


Held at several sites across the city during the summer months, this festival of all things film has been a Bordeaux fixture for over 20 years; with a wide range of movies shown at open-air sites across the city, ranging from classics to comedies and love stories.

Marathon du Medoc

One of the wackiest sports events around, the annual Medoc Marathon each September is a 42km run with a difference. Competitors wear costumes and it includes 23 stops offering runners local specialities such as oysters, steak, wine and ice-cream. Even if you don’t fancy participating, it is a lot of fun to watch.

Les Estivales de Musique

Held throughout June, July and August, this three-month festival is held on the Linné Esplanade on the right bank with a series of concerts aimed at promoting local musicians. Entry is free and in 2016 there were 55 events showcasing jazz, classical, blues and world music.

Bordeaux Organ Festival

During July and August, three churches in Bordeaux host regular organ concerts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6pm. Venues include the majestic and historic Saint-Andre’s Cathedral and organists from around Europe demonstrate their skills on the giant church organs.  

Christmas Markets

Held each year from late November until Christmas, Bordeaux’s Christmas Market is a traditional market selling a range of Christmas gifts and foodstuffs in the passageways of the historic Tourny district in central Bordeaux.  

Foire à la Brocante des Quinconces

Close to 200,000 people a year attend the Quinconces Flea Market, held over two weeks twice each year (spring and autumn) in the largest public square in Europe. It is the oldest flea market and antiques fair in the region and attracts 200 dealers selling furniture, jewellery and junk. There are similar smaller markets in several nearby towns.

Wine and Flea Market

Held over two days each October, this flea market and wine tasting centres on Rue Notre Dame, well-known for its many second-hand stores, and spills across the Chartrons district. Around 80 dealers attend and there is the chance to sample new vintage wine releases.

National Antiques Market

One of the biggest annual events in Bordeaux, this festival is held at the huge exhibition centre at Bordeaux-Lac, north of the city, each January. It attracts not only some of the best-known antique dealers in France but also amateurs with a keen eye for a bargain.

Fête de Printemps

The annual spring festival held each June in the heritage village of Saint-Emilion features wine tastings (of course), and lively parade through the medieval hamlet. The local wine producers and elders walk through the streets wearing colourful crimson costumes.



Bordeaux is circled by vineyards; from Medoc – home to names like Château Mouton-Rothschild – to Sauternes, where the world’s greatest sweet wines are made. Visitors flock to some of the most famous villages in the wine world (Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol) but beware as a declining number of the major châteaux still require introductions and appointments.

Château Smith Haut-Lafitte

One of the leading labels in the Graves region, Château Smith Haut-Lafitte offers tours and tastings and is adjacent to Les Sources de Caudalie, a five-star luxury hotel with 61 luxurious rooms and suites set in the vineyards. It has two restaurants (one starred) and a spa offering treatments using vine products.

Château Giraud

Château Giraud, with a history dating back to the 1700s, is a hugely welcoming Sauternes producer offering tours and tastings of its outstanding sweet whites. It was classified a first-growth, or 1er Cru, back in 1885. One of the first Châteaux to embrace wine tourism. It also has beautiful gardens.

Château Gruaud Larose

You’ll find an unlikely ultra-modern tasting centre and observation tower at this ancient estate at Saint-Julien Beychevelle in the Médoc. The 21-metre tower is a counterpoint to the classic château, built in 1725. For a fee, enjoy wine tastings matched with chocolates or cheese; or sample older vintages.

Château Cordellian-Bages

Visit the Château Lynch-Bages tasting facility in Pauillac, a region that is home to some of the most expensive vineyards in the world, and then dine (and maybe stay overnight) at the ultra-luxe Château Cordeillan-Bages, known for its fine food, superb service and expansive wine list.

Château Margaux

Château Margaux’s new winemaking facility, visitor centre and vinotheque, designed by prize-winning British architect Norman Foster, is a good example of Bordeaux’s growing embrace of wine tourism. The new buildings complement a château that was built in the early 1800s. Reservations are mandatory.

Château la Dominique

This dramatic Château offers both public and private tastings and tours (for a fee) and is home to a restaurant, La Terrasse Rouge, that was designed by Jean Nouvel. It is a decidedly modern affair with sweeping views over the vines of Saint-Emilion and a menu featuring Oleron oysters and other south-west delicacies.

Luxury Wine Experience

This group offers a wide range of tours, tastings (and even overnight stays) and several of the properties owner by wine entrepreneur Bernard Magrez: Château Pape Clement in Graves, Château Formbrauge in Saint-Emilion, Château La Tour Carnet in Haut Medoc. He also owns Le Clos Haut Peyraguey in Sauternes.

Château Siaurac  

Enjoy fascinating tours behind-the-scenes of this old château in Lalande de Pomerol and taste wines from three vineyards under the same ownership: Siaurac, Château Vray Croix de Gay in Pomerol and Château La Priueré in Saint-Emilion. A number of tasting/tour packages are available, including some featuring lunch.

L’Ecole du Vin

Learn about the various wines of Bordeaux without leaving the city. The Bordeaux wine school offers two-hour “initiation” courses and tasting sessions six days a week between July and September, promising you will learn “how to taste and discover the specificities of Bordeaux wines”.  

Hotel Rollan de By

Stay in a comfortable vineyard hotel and immerse yourself in the culture of Bordeaux wines. There are only six rooms at this boutique establishment but Rollan de By is set on over 200 hectares of vineyards and visitors are offered a tasting of some of the best labels. Ideal for bon vivants.

Visit Cognac

Take a day trip out of town to visit the brandy-producing town of Cognac, home to famous names like Remy Martin, Hennessy and Martell. Cognac has a population of under 20,000 but this lively little town on the Charente River is known worldwide. There are several organised tours offering distillery visits.



Bordeaux may be a relatively small city but it offers something for every taste; from history buffs to gourmands, lovers of music and art. It will soon be a whole lot more accessible with TGV trains from Paris to Bordeaux’s St-Jean Station to be introduced in mid 2017. Travel times to be cut to 2 hours 10 minutes.


Take a walk along the quays of the Garonne River and enjoy a leisurely coffee or breakfast at one of the many cafés along the waterfront. Check out the revitalised Chartrons district and the ultra-modern Hangar 14 events and concerts space. If you have time, ride a couple of stops on the tramway system.     


Take a 60-minute open-top bus tour of the city taking in the Place de la Bourse, the famous 15th-century bell tower, Saint Andre’s Cathedral and cross the Garonne River to get an exceptional view and decide which of the attractions you wish to visit later.


Take a river cruise on the Garonne and check out the city’s architecture, discover the ancient Pont de Pierre and the new Pont d’Aquitaine drawbridge. Also check out the Bassens area, still a working port. Lunch and dinner cruises are also offered for those with time to spare.


Time for lunch. Enjoy a meal at one of the city’s many restaurants with an outdoor terrace like the Bistro de Quinconces overlooking the square. Bordeaux has myriad eating choices but be aware those in areas popular with tourists will almost certainly be more expensive.  


A visit to the new Cité du Vin is almost de rigueur for visitors – and it is easily reached by tram. Seven years in the making this ambitious wine theme park has over 20 areas offering movie presentations, classes and exhibitions, along with tastings. There is also a simulated ride replicating the journey of a wine merchant’s galley.   


As you haven’t had time to visit one of the vineyard regions, it must be time to visit a wine bar; for learning the Bar a Vin du CIVB is recommended, but if you want to take a vinous journey head for either the hipster Aux Quatre Coins du Vin or for the friendly Wine More Time.  


In summer it is light until very late in Bordeaux, so there is plenty of time before dinner for a stroll around the old quarters of the city, taking in the beauty of the architecture and people watching. Each of the quartiers has a very different vibe, from chic 20-somethings hanging out at cafés to Middle Eastern immigrants dreaming of home.


Go where the locals go and enjoy an indulgent dinner at one of the city’s traditional restaurants. You can’t beat La Tupina for ambiance and traditional food and wines from the south-west. The servers are extremely helpful and most of them speak some English.


Time for a late night drink and maybe some music, so perhaps head for Le Comptoir du Jazz, a jazz club that serves up live music and cocktails each night. Another option is the rooftop bar at Mama Shelter, or perhaps the late-night cocktail bar hangout La Comtesse.

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