Explore France’s Wine Capital: Things to Do in Bordeaux

Are you looking for the best things to do in Bordeaux? Then this is the guide for you!

Located in the southwestern region of France, Bordeaux is a vibrant and picturesque city that offers unforgettable experiences. Bordeaux has firmly established itself as a must-visit destination, known for its world-class wineries, historic architecture, and charming neighborhoods.

Whether you’re a wine enthusiast seeking to indulge in tastings at prestigious vineyards or a history buff eager to explore centuries-old landmarks, this article will guide you through the top things to do in Bordeaux, ensuring an enriching and memorable visit to this enchanting French city.

Explore La Cité Du Vin

Cite du Vin - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@SpiritProd33/DepositPhotos]

Cité du Vin, which opened its doors to visitors in 2016, can be described as a theme park and a museum where interactive experiences bring wine to life. 

Over 20 themed areas with permanent and temporary displays all about wine can be found in La Cité du Vin. Many involve sipping wine with medieval vintners or recognizing the scents typical of fruity white varietals. You are surrounded by vineyards from all over the world in one room.

However, the museum includes much more than just Bordeaux wines. It discusses the development of winemaking over the centuries and focuses on the unique characteristics of wines from around the world. You can drink numerous wines from the bar with stunning views of Bordeaux at the end of the visit. They offer a few local options and wines from surprising places like Cyprus and the Czech Republic.

See Place De La Bourse and Miroir D’eau

Miroir Deau - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@ppohudka/DepositPhotos]

One of Bordeaux’s most famous landmarks is the magnificent square, Place De La Bourse and Miroir D’eau. It was the Stock Exchange Hall when it was first constructed in the 1700s, and it is currently the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This plaza, located along the Garonne River, is undoubtedly worth a photo.

Spending a couple of hours at La Place de la Bourse is undoubtedly worthwhile because of its Water Mirror’s fame. The Water Mirror (Miroir d’Eau) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest reflecting pool. It’s barely 2 cm deep but has a fascinating mirrored effect that reflects Place de la Bourse and the other gorgeous structures nearby!

You can watch the water change from a captivating mirror to a misty fog and back again if you stay at least 20 minutes there because it is designed to have three sequences: fog, mirror, and pool.

Check Out The Grosse Cloche

The Grosse Cloche - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@bloodua/DepositPhotos]

The Grosse Cloche is one of Bordeaux’s most intriguing sights. One of the oldest bell towers in France, Grosse Cloche, means “Big Bell” in French. It hangs in one of the few intact gates before the 18th century when Bordeaux was a defensive city.

The opening where the bell is hanging doubled as a jail and a defense structure. Those who desire to view the unusual dungeons within can visit it. I suggest seeing the bell at night to enjoy it from the outside.

See the Basilica of Saint Michael

Basilique Saint Michel - Bordeaux-France
Photo Credit: [@alzamu79/DepositPhotos]

The Basilica of Saint Michael’s iconic bell tower pierces the sky from almost anywhere in the city, making it impossible to miss. From the late 14th to the early 16th centuries, the Basilica itself was constructed. The pulpit in the Gothic church’s interior, which depicts St. Michael fighting the dragon, and its 17 side chapels are worth seeing, but the true attraction is the view from the bell tower.

The 375-foot-tall freestanding bell tower from the 15th century stands before the church. It is the second-tallest bell tower in France, behind Strasbourg Cathedral, and is referred to as La Flèche by locals. One of the top things to do in Bordeaux is to climb the tower for a fantastic view of the city.

Climb the Pey Berland Tower

Cathedrale Saint Andre and Pey Berland Tower in Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@OceanProd/DepositPhotos]

Are you seeking a challenge? The Pey Berland Bell Tower may be something you wish to consider climbing. I guarantee the view is worth the 229 steps to get there.

As you climb the tower, you can see the tenor bell Ferdinand-André, which was placed in 1869 and is today the fourth largest bell in France, as well as the bells Marie, Clémence, and Marguerite. These bells are all still ringing today. Once you reach the top, you’ll be 165 feet (50 meters) in the air with a stunning 360-degree panorama of Bordeaux.

Discover Arcachon and Climb Dune du Pilat

Dune of Pilat - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@wjarek/DepositPhotos]

Arcachon is a beautiful coastal town in southwest France, about an hour’s drive from Bordeaux. The town is situated on the Bay of Biscay and is known for its lovely beaches, fresh seafood, and picturesque setting.

The Dune of Pilat, or Grande Dune du Pilat, is Europe’s highest dune. It can be found near La Teste-de-Buch in the Arcachon Bay area. The climb up is worthwhile. You are rewarded with stunning panoramas of the Cote d’Argent, Cap Ferret’s tip, and the vast pine forest from the summit’s 350-foot height. 

Admire the Statues at Esplanade des Quinconces

Esplanade des Quinconces - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@alla_iatsun/DepositPhotos]

In the 63 acres of Place des Quinconces, it’s difficult to avoid running into some fair or event. It replaces Bordeaux’s infamous royal Château Trompette and is one of the biggest squares in Europe. The Monument aux Girondins, a spectacular structure built in honor of the local politicians executed during the French Revolution, closes off the building’s opposite end. Its riverside entrance is framed by lofty columns dedicated to commerce and navigation. A bronze figure of a chariot drawn by four horses, representing happiness, with fierce hooves over Falsehood, Vice, and Ignorance, is surrounded by jubilant fountains.

Visit the Natural History Museum

Museum of Natural History - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@F. Deval/Museum of Bordeaux]

Bordeaux is home to excellent museums, and the Natural History Museum is worth a visit. Founded in 1835, the museum boasts an impressive collection of over 2 million items, including various fossils, minerals, and animals. Interactive exhibits are also perfect for kids, making the Natural History Museum a great family-friendly activity.

Take a Stroll Along the Historic Quays

Quays - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@dvoevnore/DepositPhotos]

Bordeaux’s quays, formerly an ugly, industrialized city area, have been turned into the ideal location for a stroll. The Garonne River and lovely architecture from the 18th century are on one side of the quays as you walk along it. You’ll see many people walking, riding bikes, and even shopping at a few businesses surrounding the farther end of the quays, lined with little parks and gardens.

Take advantage of Bordeaux’s excellent Sunday market along the quays if you’re there. This market features more than 60 stalls, many providing regional cuisine from Bordeaux. To get all the food (it closes at 3 pm), arrive early. Because the food is so excellent, it will likely run out.

Rent a Bike and Explore the City

Public Garden - Bordeaux, France
Photo Credit: [@Leonid_Andronov/DepositPhotos]

There are few better ways to explore Bordeaux than by bike. The city is relatively flat, pedestrian and cyclist-friendly, with plenty of dedicated bike lanes. You can rent a bike from one of the many rental companies in town, or even better, take a group bike tour.

Start by riding along the Canal de Garonne, which runs through the city. Stop to explore some of the parks and green spaces along the way, including the Jardin Public and the Parc de la Tete d’Or.

Shop on Rue Sainte-Catherine

Rue Sainte Catherine - Bordeaux, France
Photo Creidt: [@katatonia82/DepositPhotos]

The rue Sainte-Catherine is the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe and is 1.2 km long. If you enjoy shopping, you’ll love it! With more than 230 stores and restaurants, this bustling street runs from Place de la Comédie to Place de la Victoire.

On this single street, you could easily pass away a whole day. During peak season, expect crowds of up to 60,000 people each day and during the twice-yearly sales in January and June.

Try a Canelé, A Famous Bordeaux Dessert

Canele French Dessert
Photo Credit: [@kwasny222/DepositPhotos]

The canelé is Bordeaux’s signature sweet dessert, and a trip there wouldn’t be complete without one! It is what? A little pastry with rum and vanilla flavors, a light and fluffy custard core, and a dark, thick shell that has been caramelized. 

I recommended getting one from La Toque cuivrée, which has a few locations in the city’s center, including one on Rue Sainte-Catherine. They are offered in three sizes, the largest of which is only 70 cents.

Take A Day Trip To Saint-Émilion

Saint Emilion, France
Photo Credit: [@Dudlajzov/DepositPhotos]

There are many reasons to visit Saint-Émilion when you are in Bordeaux. This historic town is home to exciting sights and activities, making it one of the best day trips from Bordeaux.

The first reason to visit Saint-Émilion is for the wine. This town is located in the heart of Bordeaux wine country and is home to several renowned wineries. If you are a fan of Bordeaux wine, then a day tour to Saint-Émilion is a must. Wine tours are available, allowing you to do wine tastings and learn about the winemaking process.

If you are not a fan of wine, there are still plenty of reasons to visit Saint-Émilion. This town is full of history and exciting sights to see. The historic center of town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is well worth a visit. There are also churches and monuments in Saint-Émilion, making it a great place to visit if you are interested in architecture and history.

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Featured Photo Credit: [@saiko3p/DepositPhotos]


Explore France's Wine Capital: Things to Do in Bordeaux
April Verge

April is a travel writer and the creator of Dreaming in French, a blog for those interested in everything Paris and France-related. She is passionate about inspiring others to live fearlessly and free, with their travels.