Bordeaux, a small port city in southwestern France and is best known for the awesome wine. But Bordeaux is also the second city in France with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites. So even if wine isn’t your thing, you should still visit Bordeaux because it’s a beautiful and vibrant city! There’s more to France than Paris, so a weekend in Bordeaux is the perfect way to explore more of what France has to offer.
How to Spend a weekend in Bordeaux
A weekend in Bordeaux is the perfect weekend getaway or city break! Among the activities you could do like appreciating the architecture, enjoying a visit to some of the most famous vineyards in the world or spending a day at the beach. Whether you are travelling solo, with friends or family, spending a weekend in Bordeaux is a great idea!
Day One – Explore the city & St Emillion
Eat breakfast at a Local Boulangerie
Before you start your weekend in Bordeaux, you have to do like the French do and enjoy a pastry breakfast. There are boulangeries dotted all around the city so finding one shouldn’t be hard. for more authentic ones, I would steer away from the touristy areas and go a lot more local.
See the Grosse Cloche
One of the most ‘Instagrammable’ spots in the city is the Grosse Cloche or “big bell” in English. It’s one of the oldest belfries in France. The bell weighs a whopping 7.75 tonnes and rings only on the first Sunday of each month and celebrations like January 1, May 8, July 14 for Bastille Day, August 28th which marks the 1944 liberation of Bordeaux and November 11th. The bell is so large that when it’s rung, the windows in the neighbourhood rattle. The gate where the bell hangs was a prison for young offenders who failed to respect the city’s orders. You can also visit the tower and “haunted” dungeons.
Explore Bordeaux City Centre on a Walking Tour
If you want to get to know Bordeaux, then I highly recommend a walking tour of the city’s must-see attractions. I booked one through Guru Walks and this tour provides plenty of historical information about Bordeaux and some hidden gems.
Taste a Canelé
Canelés are a very popular pastry in Bordeaux. It’s made made of a small pastry flavoured with vanilla or rum. It has a bit of a custardy texture and I rather enjoyed it, except they’re pretty small, so you need to get more than one to get your fill! You can find them pretty much everywhere around the city, especially in the old town. However, places like Pâtisserie San Nicolas, Baillardan and La Toque Cuivrée are some of the best to do it!
Go for a stroll by the water
Bordeaux is one of the best places to indulge in a leisurely stroll! Either between attractions or after an eventful day of sightseeing, make your way towards the river. Take in the open views and appreciate the view of the skyline across the river (particularly the lack of skyscrapers blocking views on the riverbank).
Marvel at the Porte Cailhau
Port Cailhau, once one of the main entrances of Bordeaux, is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in Bordeaux. It literally looks like something out of a fairytale, it’s so gorgeous and shouldn’t be missed. It remains almost unchanged from when it built and integrated in to Bordeaux’s fortifications in 1494. The gate was once a defensive gate and then an arch of victory to celebrate Charles VIII’s victory in Italy. You can actually go inside where there’s a small museum and then enjoy beautiful view over the river.
Taste some wine/Half Day trip to St Emilion
You don’t have to love or drink wine to enjoy the beautiful medieval village of Saint-Émilion. The wine town with cobbled streets and rows after rows of vineyards is a UNESCO designated site. Beyond wine tasting at a chateau, you can wander around the quaint streets taking in the architecture, grab a macaroon from the authentic Parvis des Thés and enjoy the country side charm. Saint-Émilion is only a 45-minute drive/55-minute train from Bordeaux. You could also book half or full day tours from Bordeaux.
If you can’t go to St Emilion, you can still do some wine tasting in Bordeaux through Airbnb experiences and other such vendors!
Visit Bordeaux Cathedral and Climb the Tour Pey-Berland
One of the best free things to do on a weekend in Bordeaux is admiring the Bordeaux cathedral. This beautiful Gothic cathedral, in the centre of the historic part of the city, is easily one of the most beautiful and grand cathedrals I’ve ever seen! In the evening the Cathedral plays hosts classical music concerts, choirs, and an organ festival in the summer. Well worth a visit!
Right next to the Cathedral you’ll find its 15th-century bell tower – la Tour Pey Berland. On the top of the tower, you can see the statue of Notre-Dame d’Aquitaine and three bells still operating as the bells of the Cathedral. A 231 stairs climb, yup 231 stairs, takes you to one of the best views of the city. A ticket to the bell tower is 6 euros and free to people under 26 years old. If the weather is good, it’ definitely worth a climb for great views!
READ MORE | BORDEAUX TRAVEL GUIDE
Day Two – Experience food Markets and an Alternative urban ecosystem
Shop like a local at Marché du Quais des Chartrons
Every Sunday morning the Marché du Quais des Chartrons, an outdoor market with food producers from around the region, sets up along the Garonne river. Dozens of food stalls with the best fresh oysters, fresh fruits, vegetables, beautiful cheese, fish, pastries and lots more. There are lots of food trucks selling everything from seafood paella to empanadas. The market gets quite busy, especially at about noon, but its totally worth the visit. It’s the perfect place to grab an early lunch and mix with the locals on a weekend in Bordeaux!
Learn all about wine at the Cite du vin
The Cité du vin is a must visit for both wine lovers and people that don’t even drink at all! This extraordinary building is the wine museum of Bordeaux and is dedicated to helping visitors discover the wine world through both French and global wine history. You will learn about how wine is made, smell and even taste some wine. You can also buy wines from all over the world in the museum wine shop. But even better, you get to see a beautiful panoramic view of Bordeaux and tickets only cost 20EUR!
Experience the Darwin Ecosystem
Darwin is probably one of the most unexpected places I visited in Bordeaux. It’s an old military base that’s been turned into an urban multipurpose space. It has a workspace for startups, skate park, restaurants, food vendors and much more, all to raise ecological awareness. Darwin is also home to the best street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists. Also, they host many cool events, even while I was there, there was some sort of concert going on. I loved visiting Darwin, could’ve easily spent hours strolling through, finding different experiences and coves and just enjoying the vibes.
Stroll across the Pont de Pierre
Pont de Pierre was the first bridge in Bordeaux built over the Garonne River and was the only bridge in Bordeaux until 1965. The construction took place under the orders of Napoleon I. Fun fact, there are 17 arches to the bridge and there are 17 letters in Napoleon Bonaparte’s name! However, since 2017 the bridge has been pedestrianised with the exception of the tram lines that cross it. The views of the Garonne and across the river are just stunning!
Walk through the magnificent Porte de Bourgogne
Porte de Bourgogne is a fitting welcome to the left bank for those coming across the Pont de Pierre; the road across the bridge comes directly toward the arch. The Porte de Bourgogne, or the “Gate of Burgundy” is located at the end of the Victor Hugo Avenue/opposite the Pont de Pierre. Erected in 1757, this giant stone arch marked the official entrance to the city on the old road from Paris. Until 1807, there were two smaller arches next to the arch on either side adjoining the surrounding buildings.
Shop on (or avoid) Rue Sainte-Catherine
It’s said to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe, full of clothing boutiques and one of the only places in the centre where you can find all the main clothing retail stores. You followed my list you would have entered the street somewhere in the middle of it. If you go left, in the direction of Place de la Victoire you will mostly find cheap clothing shops and a huge variety of fast food. If you fancy a great naan kebab, this is the street for you (and yes, it’s a thing in Bordeaux).
Watch the sunset at Miroir d’eau
Head to Place de la Bourse which is across the road from one of the most popular attractions in Bordeaux, Le Miroir d’eau! This monument, built in 2006, is the world’s largest reflecting pool and it’s located on the quay of the Garonne river. The surface is made from blue granite covered in water reflecting the Place de la Bourse opposite. In summer, the miroir d’eau operates in cycles of 15 minutes which create a shallow pool where you can wet your feet and fog at the end of the cycle when the water is coming down. At sunset, the water perfectly mirrors the Place de la Bourse and its rather beautiful!
READ MORE | MEN MOVING MAD – BORDEAUX EDITION
Conclusion on How to Spend a Weekend in Bordeaux
Two or Three full days in Bordeaux offer just enough time to see and do the top things in the city. I hope this guide on how to spend a weekend in Bordeaux, helps you plan your next city break to this wonderful city. If you have any more suggestions in things to do or see, please do share them in the comments below.
Don’t forget to save for later and share using the pins below!
Until Next Time,
Au revoir x