Bordeaux is the world's wine capital and a city with a rich cultural and architectural heritage, boasting over 400 historical monuments.
Here are some must-see attractions to keep you busy during your stay in Bordeaux:
1. Visit La Cité du Vin
Does the name Bordeaux ring a bell? You’ve certainly seen it at Dan Murphy's! Immerse yourself in the heart of Bordeaux's wine industry at the Cité du Vin, an interactive museum that teaches you all the secrets of this famous French wine. Top off your visit with a wine tasting on the rooftop of the museum, with a stunning view over the city.
2. Step into the darkness of the Bassin des Lumières
There’s plenty more to Bordeaux than its world-famous wine, it’s a city rich in history. Formerly a German submarine base during World War II, the Bassin des Lumières has been transformed into an immersive art experience. Stroll between the cells in the half-light and let yourself be guided by the paintings reflected on the water. Until January 2024, you can also explore an immersive art experience that showcases the works of the renowned Spanish artist Salvador Dalí.
3. Take a boat trip on the Gironde
Rest your legs and enjoy the views of the city from a different perspective on the waters of the Gironde. Explore the quays of Bordeaux and pass under the Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge, the highest lift bridge in Europe. If you travel at night, you can marvel at the stunning lights of the bridge that change with the tide, creating a unique and enchanting visual spectacle.
4. Stop at the Place des Quinconces
This famous central square of Bordeaux hosts many vibrant events such as fairs, markets, and sports competitions. On a quieter day, observe the Girondins monument, which was built in memory of the Girondin deputies who were victims of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. This monument is considered one of the city's most significant landmarks and a symbol of the struggle for freedom and democracy.
5. Walk along the quays and take a break at the Place de la Bourse
Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque quays of Bordeaux and soak up the city's stunning beauty. Be sure to stop at the Place de la Bourse. This emblematic monument of Bordeaux took over 45 years to build and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an "exceptional urban and architectural ensemble". The Miroir d'Eau, the largest water mirror in the world, is located opposite the square and is perfect for cooling off in summer and taking some amazing photographs.
6. Cross the Pont de Pierre
Crossing the Pont de Pierre, also known as the "Stone Bridge," is a must-do activity when visiting Bordeaux. This famous bridge was built by Napoleon I in the early 1820s to connect the two banks of the Garonne River and facilitate trade and transportation in the region. Napoleon I was insistent that the bridge had 17 arches, each of which represents a letter of Napoleon Bonaparte's name. As you cross, take in the breathtaking views of the city and observe the cruise ships passing by. A little bit like Sydney, isn't it?
7. Rue Sainte-Catherine
Indulge in some retail therapy with an afternoon shopping spree on Rue Sainte Catherine. The largest shopping street in Bordeaux, Rue Sainte Catherine is also the longest pedestrian street in Europe. It stretches from the Place de la Comédie to the Place de la Victoire and its huge obelisk monument. You can find everything you want, including the famous Bordeaux cannelés, a must-try French pastry. Brass scallops are set in the pavement of the street as a nod to the city’s history. If you’re with your family, see who can count the most scallops.
8. Cathédrale Saint André
This Gothic-style cathedral is the most imposing place of worship in Bordeaux, with pointed and chiselled spires, massive arches and vaults, and stained glass windows. Legend has it that the heart of the archbishop François de Sourdis lies buried beneath the cathedral.
9. Enjoy a change of scenery and stroll through the botanical gardens
Admire six different landscapes, including the soils and flora of the Bordeaux region, water gardens with dozens of water lilies and aquatic plants, and an arboretum showcasing the differences between trees, from their bark to their leaves.
10. Indulge in fresh oysters
Are you an oyster lover? Then you’ve come to the right place! Take the train or the car and head to Arcachon, La Teste, or Cap Ferret. Stop by an oyster farm and enjoy a glass of white wine with fresh oysters. And if you want to enjoy them the French way, there is no better accompaniment than fresh lemon juice or shallot vinegar. This is Alliance Francaise Sydney staff member Louise’s favourite place. Her advice? Oysters are best eaten in the months with an “r” in them. Avoid May, June, July, and August and the oysters will be too milky.
With rich history and culture, plus delectable delights to taste, a stroll through the vibrant streets of Bordeaux a treat for every traveller. From immersive art experiences at the Bassin des Lumières to the stunning views of the Gironde River from the Pont de Pierre, there is something for everyone.
Before you pack your bags, be sure to perfect your essential travel phrases with Alliance Francaise's French for Travellers courses. With guidance from our native French-speaking (and well-travelled) teachers, we will help you order a croissant without flinching, ask for directions with poise and enjoy friendly encounters with locals.
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