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Wineries. Lots of them. But we’ll talk about them further down. There are many other sites to see such as the wonderful museums. There is the Musée des Beaux-Arts that features art from the 17th to the 20th century; the CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain that exhibits contemporary work and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs featuring classic furniture, decorative paintings, and sculptures. There is also a wine museum per se, the Vinorama, a talking wax museum that chronicles the history of Bordeaux wine as well as the Bordeaux Wine Museum, which exhibits the history of the city’s wine merchants. Beyond the museums there are several beautiful cathedrals. The steeple that graces the skyline of the city belongs to the Saint Andre Cathedral. It is a beautiful 17th century church is one of Bordeaux’s main attractions. After that there is Saint Michel Cathedral with another extraordinary steeple called La Fleche. And lastly, there is the Saint-Seurin Basilica, where you can see the tomb of Saint Forte.
Bordeaux is full of shops and boutiques where you can find the perfect souvenir. There markets throughout the city. One of oldest is the Grands Hommes. It has a traditional market on the first floor where you can buy fish, fruit, vegetables, and flowers and the second floor is filled with boutiques. Another fun place to go is the rue Sainte Catherine. It’s one of the longest streets in town and has many unique stores and shops. During the summer, you can pick up local seafood riverside stalls that line the Quai des Chartrons in addition to an organic produce market where you can buy cheeses, breads and sausage – you name it! There is also a flea market at St Michel.
In a town that appreciates fine wine there is always an accompaniment of fine foods to eat! For an over-the-top experience, with amazing food served with an amazing view, take a meal at L’Estaquade (quai de Queyries) which sits on stilts above the river. Amazingly, one of the best restaurants in Bordeaux is not French! It’s Chinese (and yummy)! If you feeling like giving it a shot then try out Au Bonheur du Palais (74 rue Paul Louis Lande), you’ll have a fun story to tell your friends at home. Sticking with more traditional fare you can’t go wrong with regional favourite cassoulet at Cassoulette Café (20 Pl de la Victoire City Centre) or other Southwestern specialities from La Tupina (6 rue Porte de la Monnaie). One place not to be missed if you love oysters, especially the local Arcachon variety is La Bôite à Huîtres (36 cours du Chapeau Rouge) and nothing-fancy fisherman’s hut with the freshest oysters around.
The Bordeaux regions produces over 800 million bottles of wine a year, I think there might be a few things to drink here! You can visit any of the lovely chateaus that dot the countryside, just pick-up a cheap car rental head out for the day, drive in any direction and there will be wine! Want to learn what to look for in a good wine? Take a course at École du Vin. There are several options from 2-hours to 3-days; you’ll be a pro when you hit the wineries.
For 5-star lodging there is the amazing Hotel Burdigala where you can be pampered in a manner that is consistent with the prestigious wines that surround the town! More-midrange (allowing you money in your wallet to taste some of that wine!) is the Pullman Bordeaux Aquitania hotel or the Blue Lodge a lovely bed and breakfast in the center of town. For the budget conscious there is the Ibis Bordeaux St Jean or the Best Western Bordeaux Bayonne Etche-Ona, both parts of large chains that offer clean rooms, good customer service and excellent locations.
The best way to see historical views of the city is to walk. Start with the Quartier Saint-Eloi. This will allow you to see the Grosse Cloche (the great bell), which once rang from the old Town Hall. Continuing along the Victor Hugo Avenue, you will see the Porte de Bourgogne, a huge stone arch that is one of the four ancient entrances to the city. Another must-do walk is the Esplanade des Quinconces. It is France’s largest square and is located on the site of the former Château Trompette.
The wineries are outside of town so hop in your Bordeaux Airport rental car, purchase a tour and get tasting! If you want to try out an evening at an amazing chateau stay at the Château Bellevue bed and breakfast 30-minutes outside of Bordeaux (4 Lu Vit Bellevue, F33390 Plassac) for an extra special experience. Or get out to Saint Émilion which is the birthplace of the macaron (Tertre de la Tente, Rue de la Cadene – rue Guadet, Saint Émilion).
Visit the Grand Theatre where they host operas, ballets, and other musical performances. Nearly every night, you can catch a production, concert, or recital. For an evening of salsa (dancing and music) head over to El Chuchumbe (6, rue Causserouge). Or try the Le Break (23, Rue de Candale) for modern live music.
Drinking and driving! Make sure you have a designated driver so that the end of a day of wine tasting you return to your hotel safe and sound. Also avoid driving on the major autoroutes on Saturdays between July 10th and August 30th. On these days, many French autoroutes – and in particular all the main arteries to the south – are super busy with the worst bottlenecks routes along the south coast and around Bordeaux.