Is Bordeaux worth visiting? You won’t regret even a short visit to Bordeaux. It was named the #1 city in the Lonely Planet list of cities where to travel in 2017 (see video below). I was not surprised. Many French people argue Bordeaux is the best city in France.
The praises from my friends who lived in Bordeaux made me decide to stop in this city during our time in the south of France. We only spent one day there, but it was enough to add it to the list of the cities where I’d like to live if I ever go back to France. So yes, Bordeaux is worth visiting, and let me tell you why.
Why Bordeaux is worth visiting
1. Bordeaux is a vibrant city
Forget the French cliché that Paris the capital is the place to be and provincial cities are boring. I was highly impressed by how lively Bordeaux streets were. The cobbled pedestrian lanes were very busy with shopping and outdoor activities during the day and for drinks and food at night.
Recently, they worked on the river banks to create a lovely environment to chill or exercise.
At night, Quartier Chartrons, just outside the town centre, has great bars.
2. Bordeaux is easy to access
With the high-speed train, it only takes a couple of hours to reach Bordeaux town centre from Paris town centre. It can’t be easier than that, and it makes it possible to visit Bordeaux on a day trip from Paris by train. There’s also an international airport in Bordeaux if you’re coming from London, for example.
Responsible travel tip: Travelling by train is a lot better for the environment than driving or flying! More tips on how to be a more responsible traveller.
3. Bordeaux is a pretty city with amazing architecture
Bordeaux is a beautiful city. It’s one of these places where every building in the town centre is a monument.
We started with the cathedral and then walked to the river banks. Don’t miss Porte Cailhau on the way. In front of the beautiful Place de la Bourse, you can board a ferry boat to visit the city from the river. Our favourite place was the Place de la Comedie, where we stopped for the “apero” (pre-dinner drinks) and watched street artists.
Bordeaux has many squares and nice streets to explore. We didn’t have time to go Place de la Victoire, but if you spend more time than us in Bordeaux, check it out! In the photos, it looked fantastic!
4. Bordeaux wines are reputed worldwide
The Bordeaux wines are famous worldwide and one of the main reasons why Bordeaux is worth visiting for wine lovers. There are many Chateaux you can visit from Bordeaux. We liked the idea of combining the wine visit with a cruise on the river, but it wasn’t available on our date.
The Cité du Vin opened in 2016. It’s a great modern museum to learn more about wines with movies, exhibitions, workshops and tastings. I didn’t have time to visit, but you can click here to read all about Katy’s experience at La Cité du Vin.
The Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux (Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum) is worth a detour too. Located in the old wine cellars of Louis XV’s wine merchant, it is a lot smaller and more traditional than the new trendy Cité du Vin. You can choose a self-guided visit with tasting (allow about 1 hour) or a workshop (2.5 hrs).
As they offer different experiences, it’s worth visiting both museums. But if you’re only in Bordeaux for a short time, I personally prefer the more authentic experience. Make sure you book your tickets in advance (the City Pass is a great option if you plan to visit both!).
5. Bordeaux has great food
I’m sure you’ve heard about the reputation of French food. But have you heard about our specialities from the French South West? They are delicious (well, if you’re not a vegetarian…)!
Duck confit, cassoulet, Bayonne ham and the fresh seafood… They’re not all from Bordeaux, but they can be found there, in the largest city in the South West of France!
6. Bordeaux is a walkable city
We did our entire visit of Bordeaux on foot. You do not need to rent a car if you stay in the city centre. Walking in Bordeaux is the best way to admire the stunning architecture all around. The whole city of Bordeaux has many pedestrian-only areas and lovely squares to enjoy with no traffic at all.
7. The Bordeaux region is fantastic
Bordeaux is a lovely city. But it doesn’t stop there. The region around Bordeaux is amazing and worth visiting too. There are many beautiful day trips that await. You can, of course, visit wineries but there are also lovely villages and natural attractions nearby. You won’t find the beach in Bordeaux, but it’s not far away (50 km as the crow flies).
Just to name a few nice places to visit near Bordeaux: Carcassonne and the Dune du Pilat, la Roche-sur-Yon, Saint Emilion, Limoges…
8. Bordeaux can be visited all year round
The best time to visit Bordeaux is in spring and late summer, when the weather is the warmest and the chances of rain are low. It’s also a good time to explore the vineyards. The grape harvest in September can also be a good time to visit Bordeaux if you plan to go out of the city.
Even if the weather isn’t as good, you’ll still have a nice time in Bordeaux in autumn and winter. It generally does not get too cold so you should be lucky enough to have good days to walk around the city.
9. You don’t need to spend a long time in Bordeaux to enjoy your visit
If you’re on tight timing, one day is enough to see most of the city centre of Bordeaux. Even if you can only stop for a few hours, I reckon it’s worth visiting Bordeaux. But it would be nicer to spend at least two or three days in Bordeaux. With extra time, you’ll be able to visit the museums and do a day trip to a vineyard or a lovely village.
10. Bordeaux is a fantastic rugby destination
You’ll find a few places in the southwest of France with a strong passion for rugby union and high-performing teams. Bordeaux is one of them. If you like the oval ball, check if there’s a game at one of Bordeaux’s two big stadiums (Stade Chaban Delmas, 34,462 capacity and the Matmut Atlantique, 42,115 capacity) during your visit. They regularly host top rugby games, either with their local team Bordeaux Bègle or important regional championship games and even international games.
Where to stay in Bordeaux?
There are many accommodation options in Bordeaux* to please all kinds of travellers and budgets.
If you’re looking for a place that will create memories, more than just a room to sleep in, then check out these ones:
- Hotel des Quinconces*. It’s not for those on a budget, but this hotel offers a perfect location to explore Bordeaux on foot and has a lot of character.
- InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel*. If you don’t mind paying a premium price, you can stay in this beautiful building and get a view of the Opera from your room. The way they decorated the room will make your stay very special.
- La Grande Maison de Bernard Magrez*. Another one that isn’t for those travelling on a budget. The mansion from the 19th-century is carefully decorated. It’s famous for its gastronomic restaurant and wine cellar.
- Chateau Lamothe du Prince Noir*. Have you ever dreamt of staying in a chateau? Built-in the 14th century, it combines elegant French style and antiques and luxurious comfort. It is a bit outside Bordeaux (less than 30 minutes from the city centre) but perfectly located to enjoy the wine region.
Is Bordeaux worth visiting? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where is Bordeaux?
Bordeaux is a major French city located on the Atlantic coast. It is well connected with high-speed trains and an international airport. We visited Bordeaux during a road trip in the west of France, from the Basque Country to Brittany, with a fabulous detour in the Loire Valley.