20 Things To Do In Bordeaux

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A city along the Garonne River in southwestern France, Bordeaux is rich in history with a modern charm. It is famed for its world-class wines and expansive vineyards. The area around the city is dotted with historic châteaux and picturesque landscapes where some of the finest wines are produced. Bordeaux is filled with architectural marvels with its crowning glory being its many 18th-century neoclassical buildings. These exemplary works of architecture earns the city a UNESCO World Heritage title. As the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, Bordeaux is a vibrant, cultural and popular French city. Stroll through the lively Place de la Bourse, admire the majestic Bordeaux Cathedral, or immerse yourself in the captivating wine exhibits at the Cité du Vin wine museum.

Bordeaux has an excellent gastronomic scene with bustling markets selling a variety of local produce and freshly prepared dishes to its cozy bistros and Michelin Starred restaurants specialising in delectable regional cuisine. The city’s extensive network of cycling paths encourages exploration, allowing visitors to travel through its streets its with ease. Whether you’re a wine enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking a taste of French elegance, Bordeaux offers something for everyone to enjoy. Here are 20 things to do in Bordeaux.

Bordeaux, France

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20 Things To Do In Bordeaux

1- Admire Miroir d’Eau

Place de la bourse at night
Admiring Miroir d’Eau at Place de la Bourse is one of the things to see and do in Bordeaux, France.

Spend a few peaceful moments admiring Miroir d’Eau, the largest reflecting pool in the world.

The pool is directly in front of the architecturally beautiful Place de la Bourse creating interesting reflections on its surface.

Visiting the pool is one of the best things to do in Bordeaux as it offers excellent opportunities for interesting travel photography, and is well placed to reach other attractions in the city.

Michel Corajoud, a landscape artist, designed the pool in the early 2000s.

Jean-Max Llorca and Pierre Gangnet, a fountain maker and architect respectively, built the foundation using slabs of granite covered with only 2cm of water to create its unique reflective surface.

Miroir d’Eau is at Pl. de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux.

2- Eat Canelé

Cannelés (Canelés) De Bordeaux Recipe
Eating Canelé is one of the best things to do in Bordeaux for a sweet treat.

Experience Bordeaux on a culinary level by indulging in their famous pastry, canelé.

Canelé is a sweet cake with a rich caremelised crust and flavoured with vanilla or rum, with a custard centre.

The Couvent des Anninciades invented the pastry in Bordeaux, however sources cannot agree on whether it was first written about in the 15th or 18th centuries.

These soft and sweet treats are available across the city in its bakeries, cafes and even in restaurants.

Some bakeries have branched out from the traditional canelé and have begun to experiment with flavours.

Visit San Nicolas Pâtisserie to try a canelé filled with Black Forest flavours, or a nutty pistachio filling.

Canelé are available across the city.

3- Explore Quartier Saint Pierre

Pont Saint Pierre And Hotel Dieu Saint Jacques
Exploring Quartier Saint Pierre is one of the things to do in the Bordeaux city center.

One of the best areas of Bordeaux to visit is Quartier Saint Pierre.

This particular area of the city is the old town and is filled with exemplary architectural marvels, narrow winding streets and plenty of cafes to enjoy the scenery.

Quartier Saint Pierre has many 18th century buildings including the Place Royale, the Fountain of the 3 Graces and Parliament Square.

The area is best explored on a self-guided walking tour, allowing you to take in the sights, or with a knowledgeable tour guide.

Tour guides will help you delve deeper into the history of the area and identify places you may wish to return to.

Quarter Saint Pierre is a neighbourhood in Bordeaux.

4- Visit Bunkers Of Light

Bombproof World War 2 German Submarine Base
Visiting the Bunkers of Light is one of the fun things to do in Bordeaux.

Bunkers of Light is a must visit experience and great thing to do in Bordeaux.

This unusual creative experience is housed in a vast submarine bunker spanning 42,000 square metres (452,084 square feet).

The bunker dates to the Second World War where it was used by the Germans as a submarine base, however in the years that followed the base was reclaimed as an exhibition space and digital art centre.

Bunkers of Light hosts a range of temporary exhibitions that in the past have seen focuses on artist Salvador Dali, and architect Gaudí.

Bunkers of Light is at 284 Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33 300 Bordeaux.

5- Stroll Around Place De Quinconces

Columns On Place Des Quinconces
Strolling around Place de Quinconces is one of the unusual things to do in Bordeaux.

Place de Quinconces is a must-visit square in Bordeaux.

The square is one of the largest in Europe and is a popular meeting place for locals.

The square was built in 1816 in its current style, however it has existed since the French Revolution.

Place de Quinconces runs along the river and covers 12 hectares.

The square is used throughout the year to host artistic events, circuses and seasonal fairs.

Within Place de Quinconces are rows of trees and columns topped with statues linked to the city’s maritime history.

Place de Quinconces is at Pl. des Quinconces, 33000 Bordeaux.

6- Cycle Through The City

skyline of bordeaux at night
Enjoy a raft of things to do in Bordeaux at night.

One of the best ways to explore Bordeaux is by hiring a bike and cycling through the city.

The city is home to 1182 kilometres (734 miles) of dedicated cycling tracks making the experience safe and accessible for users.

There are many places across the city to hire bikes from, ranging from hourly hire to full day passes.

Take a self-guided cycling tour with the aid of an app or printed map, or experience the city with a guide.

Guided tours on bicycles are tailored to your physical ability, and take in a variety of historical sights, must visit destinations and landmarks.

Be sure to spend some time cycling through the old town, and along by the river.

7- Eat At Marché Des Capucins

Marché des Capucins is Bordeaux most popular food market and is one of the oldest in France.

The market proudly caries the title of ‘Belly of Bordeaux’.

Inside the old market building are stalls selling a variety of south western French cuisine alongside patisseries, fresh fruits and vegetables, and of course wines.

Expect to find locals visiting the market as it opens for a coffee and a bite to eat on their way to work, whilst tourists tend to arrive later in the day.

As well as stalls there are several restaurants, bars and cafes inside the market.

Call at Le Guet À Pan for tapas dishes from France, Spain and Italy including oysters and arancini.

Marché des Capucins is at Place des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux.

8- Scale Europe’s Largest Sand Dune

Pilat Dune, The Largest Sand Dune In Europe
Scale Europe’s largest sand dune things to do in and around Bordeaux.

Head out on an unusual day trip and visit the largest sand dune in Europe.

60 kilometres (37 miles) to the southwest of Bordeaux is the Pilat Dune.

The sand dune is part of a larger range of coastal dunes but making Pilat stand out amongst the rest is that it is constantly moving.

During shifts in the tide and heavy winds Pilat Dune can move between 1 and 5m (3.28ft and 16.4ft) each year.

Surrounding the dunes is the coast line and the forest which does occasionally get covered in sand as the wind shifts the dunes.

Pilat is between 100m (328ft) and 115m (377ft) high and can be scaled directly through the sand or by using stairs placed on the dune annually between Easter and All Saints Day.

Pilat Dune is at Teste-de-Buch, Arcachon Bay.

9- Picnic In Jardin Public

Botanical Garden, Bordeaux, France
Picnicking in Jardin Public is one of the things to do in Bordeaux today.

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon amongst the trees or picnicking by the water at Jardin Public.

The garden is one of the most visited attractions in Bordeaux and is beloved by locals who call it the ‘soul of the city’.

Created in 1746 as a much-needed Green space in the growing city, the park is home to many beautiful plants and trees, and the oldest theatre show in France.

Guignol Guérin, a puppet show, began in 1853 and is a famous Jardin Public tradition.

Jardin Public is at Cr de Verdun, 33000 Bordeaux.

10- Tour Médoc In Search Of Wine

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron, Medoc
Touring Médoc in search of wine is one of the top 10 things to do in Bordeaux.

Médoc is one of the most famous wine regions in the world and a visit to Bordeaux offers the chance to tour the area.

Médoc spans from the north-west of Bordeaux and covers around 50 miles (80 kilometres).

The region runs alongside the Gironde Estuary, with the best wines coming from vineyards closer to the water.

Within Médoc are many prestigious villages dedicated to wine production including Saint-Julien and Margaux.

In these villages some of the most expensive and desirable bottles of wine are made.

11- Shop In Rue Sainte-Catherine

Indulge and go on a shopping spree at Bordeaux iconic Rue Sainte-Catherine.

This must-visit shopping street is fully pedestrianised and covers 1.2 kilometres (0.75 miles) of the historical centre.

The street was pedestrianised in 1984 to enable pedestrians to easily access the wide variety of shops, cafes and restaurants.

The street is split into two main parts, with its northern end focusing on French brands and chains.

The south end of the street is filled with restaurants and shops, and has a more student friendly vibe.

Rue Sainte-Catherine is at Bordeaux.

12- Enjoy A Food And Wine Festival

What better way to experience the best in French food and wine than at a festival?

The Bordeaux Fête le Vin is the city’s wine festival and is held annually each June.

Expect to find a vast variety of vineyards present at the festival, all showcasing the best wines on offer.

There are many tasting events, talks and sommelier classes throughout the festival, as well as live music and delicious dishes to pair with your wine.

During the festival many Tall Ships including El Galeón and the Santa Maria Manuela arrive back in the quayside for visitors to explore and admire.

Bordeaux Wine Festival is at Bordeaux Quays, between Port de Pierre and the River Cruise car park, Bordeaux.

13- Marvel At Old Masters

The best place to see classic works of art from Old Masters is at Musée des Beaux-Artes de Bordeaux.

The museum was founded in 1801 and is the oldest museum in the city.

Inside its walls are permanent and temporary exhibitions featuring sculptures, paintings, prints and more.

The museum’s permanent collection focuses on European art from the 15th to the 20th century.

Featured in this collection are works from Van Duck, Rubens, Matisse and Picasso.

Running alongside the permanent collection are a range of temporary exhibitions focusing on fine art and French creators.

Musée des Beaux-Artes de Bordeaux is at 20 Cr d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux.

14- Climb The Arrow

aerial view of Bordeaux
You’ll find plenty of things to see and do in Bordeaux.

For beautiful views across Bordeaux skyline, look no further than the Basilica of St Michel.

This grand and gothic church is a landmark of the city, however its tower offers the best views around.

The bell tower is named the Flèche, or arrow, and reaches a height of 377ft (114.91m).

Works began on the basilica in the 14th century, with it finally opening to worshippers in the 16th century.

The bell tower was added to the basilica during the 15th century.

Visit the bell tower early on a Monday or Saturday morning and enjoy perusing the wares available at the flea market held outside of the basilica.

Basilica of St Michel is at Pl. Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux.

15- Uncover History At Musée d’Aquitaine

Musée d’Aquitaine is Bordeaux history museum and is filled with a collection dedicated to the city.

Georges-Henri Rivière founded the museum in 1963 in an effort to save Frances historical museums and artefacts following the Second World War.

The museum was originally part of the Museum of Fine Arts, however was re to the University of Bordeaux in 1970.

The museum is home to more than 1.3 million items focusing on Bordeaux and its immediate surrounding areas.

The collections also include items brought to the city from other parts of the world as sailors, doctors and missionaries returned from overseas with unique artefacts.

One of the museums most treasured items s a bark mask statue from Vanuatu.

This mask was brought to France in 1884 and is believed to be one of a kind.

Musée d’Aquitaine is at 20 Cr. Pasterur, 33000 Bordeaux.

16- Spend A Night At The Opera

A Tram Passing Near The Grand Théâtre De Bordeaux At Night
Spending an evening at the opera is one of the cultural things to do in Bordeaux, France.

An evening at the Opéra National de Bordeaux is the perfect thing to do during a visit to the city.

The opera house was built during the 18th century and is set in the heart of the historical centre of the city.

Victor Louis designed the Grand Théâtre during the 18th century in the neoclassical style and includes a a facade similar to those found in Greek temples.

Inside the theatre is just as lavish with columns supporting the ceiling throughout, a grand staircase mirroring that of the Paris Opera, and crystal chandelier.

If watching an operatic performance is not for you, there are guided tours of the building offered weekly on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

Opéra National de Bordeaux is at Pl. de la Comédie, 33000 Bordeaux.

17- Learn All About Wine At La Cité du Vin

Cite Du Vin Building And Bridge Chaban Delmas
Learning all about wine at La Cité du Vin is one of the things to do in Bordeaux.

A trip to Bordeaux and the surrounding wine country would not be complete without spending an afternoon at La Cité du Vin.

The museum is dedicated to wine and its production, and is set inside an architecturally interesting building.

Wine lovers will enjoy the permanent exhibition which indulges every sense in a wine experience.

The museum charts the history of wine from its ancient origins to modern day production through interactive exhibits and tasting opportunities.

After exploring the museum visit the Belvédère, the museum’s bar with wines from all over the world and excellent 360-degree views across the city.

La Cité du Vin is at 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33000 Bordeaux.

18- See Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux

The Big Bell Of Bordeaux (Grosse Cloche)
Seeing the Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux is one of the best things to do in Bordeaux, France, for history lovers.

Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux is a famous belfry within the city and one that is well worth a visit.

The bell tower houses a 7750 kilogram (17,085 pound) bell that was cast in 1775.

Grosse Cloche, which translates to ‘big bell’ rings 6 times a year to mark special occasions including Bastille Day and Remembrance Day.

The bell can also be heard on the first Sunday of each month.

The bell tower once served as a prison for young offenders and its dungeons, which are rumoured to be haunted, can be visited on guided tours.

Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux is at Rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux.

19- Reflect At Cathedral Saint-Andre

Bordeaux Cathedral Saint-Andre, Bordeaux, France
Reflecting at Cathedral Saint-Andre is one of the things to do in Bordeaux region France.

There are many beautiful churches in Bordeaux, however paying a visit to Cathedral Saint-Andre is one of the best things to do in the city.

The cathedral is widely referred to as Bordeaux Cathedral.

The cathedrals origins date back to 814, however official records have its founding date as 1096.

The church features a varied collection of architectural styles beginning with its Romanesque origins in the 11th and 12th centuries, before having many Gothic features added during the 13th century.

Renaissance elements of decoration including the ornate rood screen and spires were added during the 17th century.

Both its exterior and interior are intricate and grand, and guided tours are regularly available to offer greater insights into the cathedral’s design and purpose.

Cathedral Saint-Andre is at Pl. Pey Berlin, 33000 Bordeaux.

20- Dine In A Michelin-Star Restaurant

Luxury dining is easy to come by in Bordeaux as the city has a total of 11 Michelin Starred restaurants.

La Grande Maison Bernard Magrez not only offers an excellent dining experience, but one that is set in grand surroundings.

Chef Pierre Gagnaire takes diners on a journey through meticulously crafted dishes with seasonal flare at his two Michelin Starred restaurant.

For traditional French dishes with a twist visit Le Chapon Fin, a restaurant which offers an unusual Menu Mystère which perfectly pairs delectable bites with fine wines.

Call into Le Pressoir d’Argent for a meal from world-famous chef Gordon Ramsay.

Ramsay’s Bordeaux restaurant specialises in meat and fish dishes, however it also offers a Menu Mystère for the brave at heart.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.