Selected by Lonely Planet as the World’s Best City for travelers in 2017, Bordeaux has many attractions beyond wine (but let’s face it, if you’re reading this blog wine is the biggest draw). This gorgeous 18th century city has superb architecture, amazing restaurants (with fresh local oysters) and above all, beautiful and amazing wineries. While we can go on and on about this destination, where you can spend weeks, months, a lifetime, we thought it would be best to provide a few hot tips. And who better to do that than one of our co-founders who grew up in Bordeaux and returns multiple times a year.
So, if you are lucky enough to have a few days to kill in or around Bordeaux, here’s a few options:
- La Cité du Vin. Not only great for the oenophile but a great place for kids of oenophiles. Yes, they can co-exist and they do here. There’s something for everyone. The Cité du Vin is more than a wine museum; it’s where wine comes to life through an immersive, sensorial approach, all set within an evocative architectural design. The Cité du Vin gives a different view of wine, across the world, across the ages, across all cultures, and all civilizations. Ready for your mind to be blown?
- Miroir d’Eau. Need to get some shopping done and looking for a place to entertain the kids on a summer day? Time to head to Centre Ville. Park your car and walk from Grand Théatre to the Miroir d’Eau. It’s located next to the river and in front of the Palais de la Bourse. The Miroir d’Eau is the world’s largest reflecting pool. The kids will spend hours splashing and jumping around (so definitely bring a change of clothes!). While your better half lounges on the numerous benches (or decides to partake in splashing as well), you can head out to the many surrounding shops.
- Shopping. Make sure your credit card is working because this is where you spend, spend, spend. The two main shopping streets are Rue de la Porte Dijeaux and Rue Sainte Catherine. If you need something special, chances are good you’ll find it here.
- Cathedrale St-André. A Unesco World Heritage site, Cathedrale St-André was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096. It is not only beautiful but filled with architectural wonders, including Romanesque remains, a 13th century Royal Gate, and construction mostly from the 14th-15th centuries. Two royal weddings were celebrated here as well. In 1137 the 13-year-old Eleanor of Aquitaine married the future Louis VII, a few months before she became Queen. And in 1615, the Infanta of Spain Anne of Austria married the king of France and Navarre Louis XIII.
- Les Bassins de Luminères. Still have some time to burn? Check out the current installment of “LES BASSINS DE LUMIÈRES”, located next to La Cité du Vin. It’s currently showcasing a projection of Klimt and Klee art over the water from an old submarine base!
- L’Entrecôte (4 Cours du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux, France) always deserves a stop if you like steak-frites.
- Maison du vin de Bordeaux (Bar á Vin) is located next to L’Entrecôte and is a great place for a pre- or post-meal glass of wine. You can’t miss the 18th century building shaped like a ship’s prow just across from the Bordeaux Tourist Office. The building houses all things wine: The CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux); Bordeaux wine professionals; wine producers; brokers and négociants of the Gironde; the Wine School; and the elegant Bar á Vin open to customers for tastings of carefully-selected Bordeaux wines. Staff is friendly, trained wine specialists and sommeliers and is a great place to relax in ultra-comfort surroundings nibbling from a selection of cheeses and cured meats. It is one of the few wine bars open all day.
- Bistro Régent is another decent bistro to try if L’Entrecôte is too busy. It is a chain restaurant and there are several locations throughout Bordeaux.
- Peppone Bordeaux (31 Cours Georges Clemenceau, 33000 Bordeaux, France) has the best Italian food in Bordeaux if you’re looking to expand your palate beyond French. Just a 5-minute walk from the Grand Theatre.
Located on the right bank of the Gironde river, the medieval town of Saint Emilion is beautiful and worth the drive. It’s also home to some the hottest wines coming out of Bordeaux today.
- Château Guadet. A small historical property located in town. If you are looking for an intimate wine tasting experience, this is it. The owner takes you on a guided tour of the property, its history, and of course, the vineyard and wines. An appointment is necessary, and the wine is only sold direct.
- Château Franc Mayne. If you want to try a winery less intimate, head over to Château Franc Mayne. Still great wine, but less interaction for the introverts among us.
- Château Beauregard. If you’re visiting Bordeaux in September, you might be able to secure a visit in Pomerol (just 5 minutes out from Saint Emilion). This is an extremely popular tasting region so it’s difficult to get appointments at other times of the year. While close in proximity, the terroir is in stark contrast to Saint Emilion. It’s a great way to compare and contrast two amazing Bordeaux regions in the same day. A good comparison point to Château Franc Mayne or Château Guadet might be Château Beauregard.
- Château La Dominique. Getting hungry in between tastings? Why not stop for lunch in the middle of wine country at Château La Dominique. Jean Nouvel’s influence can be seen everywhere at the Château’s la Terrasse Rouge, from the restaurant’s architecture to the furniture it contains. Large bay windows, huge volumes, and a decor marked by both wood and mineral aspects create a setting where light is ubiquitous. The restaurant also has a terrace filled with smooth red glass pebbles that affords a calming, panoramic view of the surrounding vineyards. Managed by restaurateur Nicolas Lascombes, la Terrasse Rouge brings delicious cuisine served in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. New wine and food matches are offered every season and dishes highlight the finest local ingredients.
- Château Du Palanquey. If you decide a day trip to Saint Emilion is just not enough (trust us, we know the feeling!), then why not spend the night within the vineyards at Château Du Palanquey. The Château is surrounded by 12 hectares of vines and is in the heart of the vineyards of Saint Emilion and the Castillon coast. Offering tranquility and authenticity, the Château harmoniously blends tradition and modernity with luxury and comfort. Take a walk amongst the property’s hundred-year-old trees with the scents and colors of the South or take a dip in the large esthederm spa with views of the vineyards. Château Du Palanquey is about relaxing and connecting with nature, your companions, and yourself. Not to mention, your belly! The Château’s Table d’hôtes will take you on a journey through the emblematic recipes of the region and guests can even register for cooking classes to learn how to make them.
If lounging beachside and spending a lazy day eating fresh oysters and sipping wine is your speed, then Cap-Ferret is for you. Located about an hour from Bordeaux, Cap-Ferret has a lot to offer, so much that we thought the best way to introduce it is to simply point to a great article written by the Ney York Times a few years ago. What was a best kept secret by the French, is slowly becoming an international travel destination.
More Wineries, Please?
Well, Wine Bounty is about wine so we can’t leave you hanging. For those looking to venture out to other Bordeaux regions, why not give these wineries a try. They do a great job of blending beautiful scenery and an informative staff with amazing wine. What more could you ask for?
Pauillac (45mn from Bordeaux)
- Château Pichon Baron. The Grand Vin Château Pichon Baron 2nd Cru Classé in 1855 is the Château’s prized wine. It comes from the oldest vines on the estate and is truly an authentic Pauillac, offering an amazing sensory experience with its black fruit flavors and spicy hints. Château Pichon Baron shows great elegance, intensity, and exceptional length on the palate. Best of all, it improves year after year and can easily age for over 40 years in the cellar.
- Château Pontet Canet. “Forget everything, start afresh and erase old habits in order to re-connect with nature, be born anew.” That’s the motto of Alfred Tesseron and his team, led by estate manager Jean-Michel Comme. The team has completely transformed the vineyard and the identity of Château Pontet-Canet. Leaving behind conventional vine growing techniques to embrace organic and biodynamic methods, they have allowed the terroir to reclaim its origins. According to Tesseron, “the vines have been liberated and the grapes have never been more beautiful”. A tour of this amazing property and seeing its transformation firsthand is a must for anyone visiting Pauillac. The numerous 100-point scores alone show they’re doing something right!
- Château La Tour Carnet. Bernard Magrez, who also owns famed Château Pape Clement, took over Château La Tour Carnet in 2000 and returned the estate’s Chateau, cellars, and 311 hectares to their former glory days, marrying cutting-edge technology with traditional savoir-faire. Château La Tour Carnet is one of the oldest Bordeaux wine producers in the Médoc. In fact, some parts of the building date back to the 11th century and Château La Tour Carnet is one of the few Bordeaux estates with a moat and drawbridge. Besides producing incredible wine (it possesses the coveted classification of 1855 Grands Crus Classés), you can also live like a king or queen. A stay in one of the Château’s two stately period suites, Michael de Montaigne or La Boetie, will take you on a journey through time. As will the royal breakfast, dinner, and wine tasting carefully mastered by a dedicated chef and served by your very own butler in the dining hall.
Pessac-Leognan (15mn from Bordeaux)
- Château Larrivet Haut-Brion. Amazing wine? Yes. Even more amazing gardens? Absolutely! If you’re looking for a feast for all your senses, this is it. The Château’s Millésimé Garden is a place where you can lose your self and all sense of reality. From its majestic and airy structure, the garden features bright red stakes to guide your steps to the heart of a garden filled with a thousand and one plants. With friends and family, in the company of a guide or not, you enter this unusual green space and break the boundaries of tasting, giving free rein to your senses.
- Château Smith Haut Lafitte. The Château is known for producing some of the best wine in the region and also has a number of unique experiences to explore the Château and all it has to offer. Experiences range from wine tastings, to getting your hands dirty with the Culture Manager or Cellar Master, to educational classes, to art and forest tours. You can easily spend an entire day (and a lot of money if you’re not careful!).
Tell Us About Your Bordeaux Adventure
We hope you find these tips helpful on your next adventure to Bordeaux. The region has a special place in our hearts and we would LOVE to hear about any hot tips you want to share with us so we can share with the Wine Bounty community. Till then, Happy Hunting!
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