Things to do in Bordeaux, France
Jump out of bed, hire a bike, and get ready for a few days of sightseeing in the charming French city of Bordeaux!
1. Le Miroir d’eau + Place de la Bourse
Le Miroir d’eau is one of the iconic things to do in Bordeaux and best of all, it’s free to visit! It’s a 37,000 square feet pool that’s been named the ‘largest reflecting pool in the world’. The water is only 2 cm deep and covers thin granite tiles, acting as a mirror to reflect the Place de la Bourse that sits next to it.
Cleverly, it has 3 different sequences: fog, mirror, and pool, which means you can sit and watch the water and the reflections change. But also have a super refreshing cool down during the heat of the day.
2. Basilica of St. Michael
The Basilica of St Michael is beautiful but, what’s really striking about this building is the St Michael bell tower that sits next to it, towering over the city. Bordeaux’s locals call it ‘la Fleche’, which means ‘spire’, and it’s famous for being built next to the basilica rather than on top of it. One of the top things to do in Bordeaux is to climb to the top of the spire for the most incredible views out over the city.
3. Darwin Eco-Système
Darwin Eco-Systeme is the biggest surprise of all in Bordeaux, France! Move away from the old city center of Bordeaux and visit this trendy warehouse-style space. What once was an old military base has now been converted into an open space full of restaurants, co-working spaces, and shops.
There’s a particular emphasis on environmentalism in this building and most of the food and shops stock eco-products.
Spend some time here admiring the street art, listening to live music and DJs, or watching skateboarders do tricks in the on-site skatepark.
Opening times: 8 AM – 11 PM every day
4. Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux
Grosse Cloche is known as the most charming neighborhood in Bordeaux. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours walking along the cobbled streets, eating at traditional French cafes, and shopping in cute boutiques.
Enter the area through the gate: a beautiful arch with a beautiful bell tower, which is an icon of Bordeaux and a great place to snap some photos.
5. Saturday Market at St. Michael
Is there anything better than an authentic French market? The Saturday market at St Michael is no exception! The buzzing market sits around the basilica and is the perfect way to kick-start your weekend in Bordeaux. Find everything you’d expect from a farmers market: locally sourced fruit, veggies, meats, and cheeses. It’s a colorful and atmospheric way to enjoy the city and a beautiful setting to see the cathedral.
6. Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
The stunning Cathedrale Saint-Andre sits on the main square of Pey Berland and is a national monument of France. Intricate stone carvings, archways, and two huge spires give the Cathedral a ‘Hogwarts-style’ feel. Walk around the Cathedral admiring its facade before climbing the 15th-century bell tower for more amazing views over Bordeaux. It’s 231 steps to the top, so prepare yourself for a bit of a climb!
Entry fee: 2 EUR. Open Wednesday & Saturday from 2.30 PM – 5.30 PM
7. Librairie La Nuit Des Rois
Librairie La Nuit Des Rois is straight from the pages of a romantic French novel. Inside this narrow bookstore, you’ll find old shelves packed full of second-hand books for you to enjoy. A lot of the literature is French, but there are also old posters, maps, and comics, which is a nice thing to take away from your trip to Bordeaux. (The location of the library is here)
8. Cycle Around the City
Bordeaux is relatively walkable, but it’s also a great place to hire a bike and cycle between the sights. It’s a very bike-friendly city, and there are plenty of bike paths visitors can use to get from A to B. Cycle along the banks of the river with the wind in your hair and discover lively Bordeaux!
Local public transporter TBM has bikes throughout the entire city that can be used via a registered card or through a subscription. You can easily cancel the subscription once you’re finished. It’s one of the cheapest ways to get around the city. Here’s how it works.
9. Cité du Vin
The Cite du Vin is one of the most striking buildings in Bordeaux: a futuristic structure that can be seen shimmering in the distance with its glass and aluminum panels. The building is home to a museum that’s dedicated to Bordeaux’s love of wine, and it’s designed to represent the swirling of wine in a glass.
Enjoy the museum, which has interactive exhibits on French and global wine history, videos with winemakers, and the option for you to smell and taste wine.
Entry fee: 20 EUR for the exhibition and a wine tasting. (Get your skip-the-line tickets)
Opening hours: 10 AM – 7 PM (exhibition areas)
10. Wander Through the City
Bordeaux is so vibrant and varied that it’s a pleasure to just spend the day walking from neighborhood to neighborhood, eating, people-watching, and drinking the wine that makes Bordeaux so famous. If you’re interested to learn more about Bordeaux or find secret spots, it’s worth booking a walking tour with an official guide who will be able to tell you everything you need to know.
11. Pont de Pierre
Pont de Pierre, or ‘stone bridge’, is a 19th-century bridge that connects the two sides of the Garonne River through multiple archways. In fact, there are 17 arches in total that rise and fall across the water. The bridge is closed to cars and is only used by pedestrians and cyclists. Because of this, it’s a great place to enjoy views across the river and on both sides of the city.
How to Get to Bordeaux
Bordeaux has got great connections to cities all over Europe, making it an excellent destination for a city trip. Getting to and around Bordeaux by car is a good option as well since the city is well-accessible by car.
- Paris to Bordeaux: high-speed train in just 2 hours.
- London to Bordeaux: Take the Eurostar in 6 hours
- Rotterdam or Amsterdam to Bordeaux: 7 hours with a change in Paris.
The international airport of Bordeaux serves lots of other major cities in Europe. The airport is 12 km outside the city center and can be reached using an airport shuttle bus.
Getting Around Bordeaux
The old part of the city is walkable, but if you want to get around faster or to different neighborhoods, there is a regular tram and bus service. There is also a great city bike system that you can register online for, or you can hire a bike for the day from one of the many rental shops around the city.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Bordeaux
Are you a foodie? Bordeaux is for you! There’s a great variety of delicious restaurants and cafes all around the city. These were our favorites:
- Contrast (espresso bar with good food)
- Frida (popular, make a reservation!)
- L’Autre Petit Bois (good food & wine)
- Peter Coffee Shop
- Café Kokomo
- Restaurant La Mona (Italian)
- Le P’tit Chez Moi (Vegan)
Where to Stay in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is full of gorgeous boutique guesthouses, luxury hotels, and traditional apartments. The best area to stay in is the historic center, where you can have easy access to all the beautiful sights.
Your travel budget for Bordeaux
When going on a city trip to Bordeaux, expect a travel budget of around 220 USD a day, including accommodation. Average prices in the city are:
Best time to visit Bordeaux
If you’re visiting on a city trip, anytime in the fall or spring is a great time to visit (the summer months can be hot for sightseeing).
However, if you want to go out to the vineyards around Bordeaux, the summer months, June to August, are the best time. In September, a lot of the wineries close for harvest.