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10 things to do and see in Bordeaux

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10 things to do and see in Bordeaux

Bordeaux has a name linked to “wine” par excellence in the world, the production of which explains a large part of the wealth of this great French city. All monuments, therefore, are more or less related to trade of wine: Place de la Bourse, with the palace where prices used to be negotiated

The old warehouses on the Garonne river, now extraordinarily transformed into places of leisure. But  with wine money are explained  the two striking churches too, St André  and Saint Michel, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts

Recently, Bordeaux has introduced significant changes to its urban spaces, without destroying its architectural identity, indeed saving it from a certain decadence. Thanks to low cost flights, is now one of the most attractive destinations in Europe.

In this page we suggest you  10 things to do and see absolutely during your holiday in Bordeaux.

If you are looking for a hotel in Bordeaux, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 150 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux

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The charm of this square comes from the Miroird’Eau, the reflecting pool located close to the bank of the Garonne. The 2 cm of water which locals call pataugeoire (little pool) can be converted into a fog high 2 meters.

Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux
Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux

When the sky is dark or at night, in the waters  are reflected the symmetrical shapes of the two main buildings of the square: the Chamber of Commerce, from which the square is named, and the Customs Museum, which tells the ancient history of trade in Bordeaux. Needless to say, it is the most touristic place and also the most photographed one. In summer it becomes a fun way to cool off your feet, especially loved by children. Place de la Bourse was built in 1749 and took the name of Place Royale because it was a tribute to the King of France by Bordeaux people.

40 years later, the revolutionaries threw the statue of the King off his horse and renamed it Freedom Square. After several changes, in 1869, it became the Place de la Bourse. At the centerthere is a beautiful fountain with three female figures: according to some people they are the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde rivers; according others they represent three graces, according to others, again, three French princesses. You can choose.

Cathédrale St-André in Bordeaux

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The most important religious monument of Bordeaux, the Cathedral, was built in 1096 by Pope Urban II.

Cathédrale St-André in Bordeaux
Cathédrale St-André in Bordeaux

The beauty of this building is made by the majesty (124 meters in length by 23 in height) and, especially, the five chapels. For some historical reasons, the main façade of the Cathedral is Romanesque, so very simple, while the most beautiful façade is the north one with the Royal portal decorated with bas-reliefs representing the Last Supper, Ascension and the Triumph of the Redeemer. On this side of the Cathedral there are two twin towers  81 meters high. The interior of the cathedral is of great interest, excluding the chorus. But it has an historical explanation: Geoffrey Loroux (1135-1158), bishop of Bordeaux, wanted it. He established the strictAugustinian rule while the other parts are characterisedby the different historical eras during which they were modified. In the Cathedral Square stands the tall bell tower dedicated to Pey-Berland, the archbishop of Bordeaux, who founded the first university in the city around 1440. At the top, facing the Medoc do Pey-Berland, there is the statue of the Madonna of Aquitaine.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet or by subway
When: every day from 10 am to 12 pm (Monday excluded) and from 2 to 6 pm
Ticket: free entrance

Basilique Saint Michel in Bordeaux

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With its 114 meters high, the bell tower of Saint Michel Church is perhaps the highest one of France. As for the church of St. Andrew, also in this case the tower is not linked to church, very rare feature in Europe.

Basilique Saint Michel in Bordeaux
Basilique Saint Michel in Bordeaux

At the base of the tower there is a crypt which, over the centuries, has been used  as an ossuary. When it was decided to remove the cemetery, they found thousands of mummified bodies which until 1979 were housed in the crypt. The church was started in 1350 and continued for more than three centuries in gothic style. The interior has three naves with 17 chapels dedicated to confraternities or corporations. One of the most visited chapels is San Giacomo, a destination for pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela.

Where: Place Canteloup, old town centre
How to get there: by feet or Metro Capitol
When: every day 10 am  – 12 pm, 1 – 6 pm. Never 25 December and 1st January
Ticket:
Church: free entrance, Bell tower : € 5

Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux

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Traveling around Europe is not always possible to enjoy, for only € 4, such a rich museum of works of art.

Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux
Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux

The Musée des Beaux-Arts, in fact, hosts one of the most important collections of European art and is, along with the Louvre, one of the most important museums of France. The collection covers the period from 1400 to 1900 with works by Tiziano, Veronese, Vasari, Luca Giordano, Rubens, Van Dyck, and  a rich collection of 1800 with works by Renoir, Matisse, Corot, Delacroix, and some works of artists in 1900 including Picasso and Kokoschka.

Where: Cours d’Albret by from Piazza dellaBorsa towards the Palace of Justice
How to get there: by feet
When: every day excluded Tuesday and public holidays
Ticket: € 4

Grosse Cloche in Bordeaux

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The door of Grosse-Cloche, the great bell, is probably the symbol of Bordeaux. It was built in the fifteenth century on the ruins of the port of Saint Eligio, because from here passed the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

Grosse Cloche in Bordeaux
Grosse Cloche in Bordeaux

The Grosse-Cloche, together with the Cailhau Porte, is one of the most important civic monuments of the middle ages in Bordeaux. The door is named after the great bell fused in 1775 which is located in the large arch. At the foot of the door there is the small church of St Eligius (xv century) and  portal with arches. Used for centuries to announce whatever happened in the city, today the bell sound only once a year: on november 11, armistice day which commemorates the end of II World War.

La Garonne in Bordeaux

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It is no coincidence that in 2007 Unesco decided to declare world heritage the Garonne’s bank.

La Garonne in Bordeaux
La Garonne in Bordeaux

It is one of the most beautifuldocks in the world, where the old red brick buildings have been completely restored and transformed into places of culture, sports and entertainment. Walks, parks, gardens, bike paths, shops, cafés and restaurants have changed the lifestyle of Bordeaux. A few meters from the city centeryou have the opportunity to walk, run, leave the kids at a playground, have a coffee in peace while admiring the ships going by on the river.

Rue Sainte Catherine in Bordeaux

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It is impossible to visit Bordeaux without passing on Rue Sainte Catherine. This roadlong almost 1.2 kilometres, is considered the longest shopping street in Europe and crosses all the major streets of Bordeaux.

Rue Sainte Catherine in Bordeaux
Rue Sainte Catherine in Bordeaux

Rue Sainte Cath, as people ofBordeaux use to call it, is a paradise for shopping lovers. There are 3 km of shop windows that sell everything from large international chains to small shops with local products, cafés and restaurants. Saturday, during the sales and on Christmas day, the road becomes a kind wall of human beings who come in and out from 230 shops. Will it be an experience to do, or a nightmare? The choice is yours!

Le Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux

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Stendhal, after a visit to Bordeaux, declares that the theatre was “the ugliest in the world”, but we think he was wrong!

Le Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux
Le Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux

The Grand Théâtre, in fact, is considered with the one of Paris and the TeatroRegio of Torino, one of the most beautiful theatres in the world.

Built by Victor Louis during the reign of Louis XVI, it was used several times as the National Assembly, when for many events Bordeuax replaced Paris as French Capital. Considered a neoclassical masterpiece, the exterior of the theatre has 12 corinthian columns topped by 12 statues representing the 9 arts. The interior is magnificent: gold, white and blue (the colors of the realm), with the frescoes that homage the arts, artists and the city of Bordeaux.

Where: Place del a Comédie
How to get there:  by Tram B line Grand – Théâtre and C line Quiconces
When: During the Festival, from Monday to Saturday, 12 – 6 pm . During other periods on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2.30 to 5.30 pm
Ticket: € 5 or € 3

Things to eat in Bordeaux

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Bordeaux is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. Thanks the production of the wine, the city and the region built their fortune.

Things to eat in Bordeaux
Things to eat in Bordeaux

So the wine is pretty much everywhere in the city. But with which meal? The local cuisine is mixed with the ingredients of the french countryside, the river and the nearby atlantic ocean. So among the dishes stand out the lamproie à la bordelaise (leeks, red wine), a kind of eel of the Garonne and the entrecote à la bordelaise (onion and red wine). Gironde caviar is famous all over the world, as well as the oysters of the Bassind’Arcachon that open every lunch or dinner. From the atlantic there is the  salmon, lobster and scampi. Don’t miss  the foie gras, duck, local meats, mushrooms and truffles and much, much more. Among the desserts they deserve a reward the traditional macaron but, above all, the canalè (milk, vanilla, sugar, flour, caramel, calories!) And the bouchon (almond paste and raisins).

Where to sleep in Bordeaux

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You will be spoilt for choice to sleep in Bordeaux. The city, in fact, has a great offer of hotels, hostels and apartments with “french prices” but still acceptable.

Where to sleep in Bordeaux
Where to sleep in Bordeaux

In the historic center, where there are all the main monuments, prices of 3 star hotels start from  60 euro per night. Many possibilities come from Chambred’Hote in the countryside, just outside the city and among the Bordeaux vineyards. Although it is a little bit  uncomfortable to  reach the center, it is the ideal stay for those who want to discover this region of France.

If you are looking for a hotel in Bordeaux, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 150 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com