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Bordeaux Tourism And Travel Guide
15.2° C / 59.4° F
May to November
3 to 5 Days
Gare Saint-Jean Railway Station
Bordeaux is an ancient city most commonly associated with fine wines and acres of wine-growing regions. But little does the world know that this port city located on the river Garonne in south-western France is about more than just sipping wine and traipsing through the vineyards on a warm summer day. More than 350 historical monuments whose foundation can be traced back to the Roman times are significant contributors to what drives tourism in Bordeaux.
Until not too long ago, Bordeaux was buried under a blanket of urban decay that diminished its cultural and economic significance to a large extent. But a recent chic facelift to the city and its inscription into the UNESCO World Heritage List has, quite literally, put Bordeaux on the map. With numerous parks, cinemas and museums to keep you occupied for days at a stretch, Bordeaux is a city with endless possibilities. Read on to know more about Bordeaux and its gems with the help of this travel guide.
How to Reach
The regional airport of Bordeaux is the Bordeaux-Mérignac, which is essentially a domestic airport but also operates international flights to neighbouring European cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid. Since Bordeaux cannot be reached directly, travellers from India are required to book a connecting flight that usually has just one stopover.
Bordeaux’s main train station is the Gare Saint-Jean Railway Station that is just about 4 km away from the city centre. The SCNF and the TGV are the two rail networks that connect Bordeaux to the rest of France; people can conveniently travel via train from cities like Paris, Nice, Toulouse and Marseille etc.
Travellers choosing to take the road route to reach Bordeaux can get in from the north by getting on to highway A10, while those coming in from the south are required to take highway A63. There are long-distance buses as well as pre-booked taxi services available from all major locations nearby, which makes reaching Bordeaux via road quite convenient.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Summer (June – August):
With warm and sunny days and temperature that hovers just around 27⁰C even during the peak months of July and August, summers are undoubtedly the busiest time of the year with crowds of tourists flocking to the city. However, the peak summer season also means travellers will encounter peak rates in all hotels and commercial establishments, making this an unsuitable time to visit for tourists who are on a budget or who don’t appreciate crowds.
Autumn (September – November):
The autumn season is another great time to visit Bordeaux. The weather in September and October is still warm enough to enjoy all outdoor activities, while the rates in hotels and other commercial establishments go down considerably to suit even the lower-budget tourists. The only downside to visiting in autumns is the grape harvesting that begins in all wineries and most of these wineries do not allow visitors for tours during this time.
Winter (December – February):
Winters in Bordeaux are cool, yet mild enough to plan a trip if you are looking to escape from the harsh winters of your country. The temperature during the daytime ranges around 10⁰C and dips to 2⁰-3⁰C in the night. Experiencing the Christmas festivities in Bordeaux are the main highlight of visiting this city during winters; the Christmas market, in particular, is a splendid affair that will prove enjoyable for people of all age groups.
Spring in Bordeaux is generally quite similar to the autumn weather, albeit rainier. It starts off mild and pleasant in March with increasing rains that last almost throughout the entire season, and on the days that the sun does come out, travellers may find the opportunity to explore the vineyards and other attractions of the city. The rains recede as June approaches and the weather starts to get warmer and sunnier.
Things to Do
Wine Tasting Tours:
Wine tasting tours are the chief highlight of Bordeaux, where tourists can enjoy guided trips to any of the numerous wine-growing regions in the city. Visitors can take half-day tours to learn all about the different wine-making processes and their storage, including a fantastic tasting session at the end of each tour. The Wine Cab program organizes such tours as well wherein taxis driven by people who are experts on wines themselves take you around the different wine estates. The taxi also has a tasting bar for you to enjoy while being regaled with key insights about the various wines by your driver.
Visit the Museums:
The most famous museum of Bordeaux is the La Cite du Vin – a building dedicated to providing information on the various wine-making processes from around the world. The exquisite architecture of the museum makes it one of the most notable structures in the city, apart from it being an amazing interactive experience related to all things wine. Pay a visit to other significant museums in the city like Musée d’Aquitaine to learn more about Bordeaux’s history; Musée d’Art Contemporain for its themes of film, music, literature and architecture; and the Musée des Art Decoratifs for some brilliant display of fine arts.
Explore the Historical Monuments:
Bordeaux is crammed with historical buildings that date back to centuries ago and still stand today as a testament to the city’s rich heritage. The Saint-Andre Cathedral is one such monument that isn’t just a stunning display of architecture and intricate stone-work, but historical significance as well. The attached Pey-Berland tower also attracts crowds of tourists for its scenic views from the top. Then there is the Saint-Seurin Basilica – an ancient structure whose foundation dates back to sometime in the 5th-century. Visit the Grand Theatre of Bordeaux that is a brilliant example of 18th-century architectural magnificence and is still in use today where visitors can enjoy a performance of French ballet or local theatre art.
Where to Eat
Food lovers can delight themselves with a bevvy of French delicacies when in Bordeaux. The city’s coastal location makes it a prime spot for oyster farming, especially the Arcachon Bay area. Fresh oysters can be enjoyed in many eateries across the city, but give them a try at Le Petit Commerce and La Boite a Huitres, where you can savour other local specialities as well. True traditional French cuisine can be experienced in La Tupina, Le Bouchon Bordelais and Au Bistrot. Visit Brasserie le Bordeaux for some exquisite fine dining experience on a budget that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Where to Shop
There are a number of spots in Bordeaux where tourists can shop like the locals. Rue Saint Catherine is easily the best place to enjoy such an experience; at 1.2 km long, it is the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe. There are more than 250 shops here to choose from, apart from numerous cafes and restaurants.
Marches des Quais is a producers’ market with a large selection of different foods to choose from. Visitors can purchase anything from fresh bread, cheeses and even seafood; there are also vendors that sell delectable dishes that can be enjoyed right there on the spot. Head over to Marches des Capucins as well, another similar market that sells fresh local delicacies along with edible gifts and souvenirs that can be purchased for loved ones back home.
For some upscale French shopping experience, try the Triangle-d’Or where shoppers will find all the luxury brand names and big-ticket shops packed together in one location. And of course, a trip to Bordeaux is incomplete without taking some of the fine wines from this city back home with you. While there are plenty of places to purchase the same from, Cave Art & Vins carries not only some of the finest wine selection but also 700 different varieties of whiskies.