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A Bordeaux City Guide – world heritage architecture, culture and vineyards

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France’s southern belle will charm you with her grand, classical architecture and fine wines. Sip a glass of Bordeaux wine at a sunny pavement café beneath the shade of a palm tree and take a trip out to a vineyard to find out what makes it so good. In the evening, take in the illuminated reflections of the Place de la Bourse and visit the opera for some of Bordeaux’s high culture.

Hugo Idler

My Destination local expert on

Bordeaux

What to see and do

 

A good place to start a tour of Bordeaux is in the Historic Center. This pedestrian quarter is dominated by St. Andre’s Cathedral, with its gothic spires reaching far above the rest of the terracotta rooftops. Once you’ve had your fill of the crammed medieval streets, head down towards the river and walk on water at the Miroir d’eau. A spray of water covers the square in front of the Place de la Bourse every few minutes, giving it a mirror-like shine and providing a great photo opportunity. You can’t leave Bordeaux without tasting the wine, so take a trip to a local vineyard, or just enjoy a tasting session at one of the caves in town.

 

Where to stay

 

To be immersed in the history and heritage of Bordeaux, the Historic Center is the place to stay. A variety of hotels, ranging from 5-star luxury to simple guesthouses, are housed in time-worn stone buildings. To be right in the middle of things and in a perfect location for shopping, stay in the Golden Triangle area. It’s at the heart of Bordeaux and the best shops and museums will be on the doorstep. To get more of a taste of local life, make your base in Chartrons, to the north of the Historic Center, or Saint-Michel, to the south, and close to the Pont de Pierre.

 

Where to eat

 

Bordeaux’s signature dish is the cassolette. This is a traditional southern French casserole of white beans, sausages and hearty, warming spices. Look out for restaurants in the Historic Center with simple menus and their red-and-white checked tablecloths – you’re likely to find a good cassolette inside. For fresher, lighter dining, head down to the trendy quayside for delicious seafood, including locally-caught oysters. Of course, Bordeaux also has a tempting range of sweet confections. Canelés are the regional specialty; little cakes infused with rum and caramel, baked fresh in patisseries all over town, but some of the best can be found in the Chartrons district.

 

Where to shop

 

If you’re looking to spend some serious money, head to the Triangle d’Or - Golden Triangle – where all the high-end designer boutiques can be found. It’s also home to the Grands Hommes department store, an elegant, grand building, which is worth a visit for its food hall as well as its clothing and jewelry sections. For shopping on a budget, head to one of the outdoor markets – Marche des Capucins brims with fresh produce, street food and trinkets. Independent boutiques for an alternative style can be found around the Place Fernand Lafargue. For wine purchases, head to L’intendant on one of Bordeaux’s main streets.