What to do in Bordeaux

Activities, attractions and tours
Bordeaux

Bordeaux Attractions

Perhaps rivaled only by Champagne on the opposite side of the country, there may be no region more closely tied to winemaking than Bordeaux. In the region alone, there are more than 7,000 chateaus, which together produce nearly 1 billion bottles of wine each year. Sitting in the southwest of France, the city of Bordeaux is the capital of this region. Alongside its mouthwatering wine, it’s famous for its picturesque plazas, world-class museums, and centuries-old architecture sharing the street with a bevy of striking new structures. Known for a certain brand of joy de vivre, locals can frequently be seen lingering over an aperitif at an outdoor cafe or enjoying a leisurely stroll along the waterfront of the winding Garonne River. In the heart of the city, Bordeaux buzzes with chic coffee shops, luxury boutiques, and elegant eateries, while more quirky and eclectic offerings can be found in the outer neighborhoods.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Bordeaux

From the heart of the Historic Center, the city’s neighborhoods sprawl out like a web. The majority of Bordeaux’s best landmarks and attractions can be found along the left bank of the Garonne River, sprinkled throughout districts that transition between the historically significant and the bohemian chic.

Downtown — At the center of the city, Downtown Bordeaux is where you’ll find much of the area’s most well-known sites, as well as an incredible selection of restaurants, hotels, and shopping streets. On the eastern side of the district, the Historic Center is home to breathtaking structures such as the columned Grand Théâtre, the Palace of the Bourse, and the 11th-century Bordeaux Cathedral. Just to the north, the Golden Triangle is an elegant area bursting with luxury boutiques and gourmet eateries, while Rue Sainte-Catherine to the south is the longest shopping street in all of Europe.

Capucins-Victoire — The Historic Center extends into the district of Capucins-Victoire, however, this area is more eclectic than its northern neighbor. Much of the district is centered around Saint-Michel, which is known for its diverse selection of multicultural eats. Come here to find everything from French and Italian to Moroccan, Hungarian, and Chinese cuisine. Four days a week, the streets near the basilica transform into a lively flea market, while down the road, colorful produce and fresh flowers can be found in the covered Capucins Market.

Chartons — North of Downtown, a cool, creative spirit imbues the more contemporary neighborhood of Chartons. Low-key bars fill centuries-old buildings, and the boardwalk along the water is lined with outdoor eateries, discount shopping, and a skating park. Nearby, explore contemporary art at the CAPC Museum, or enjoy charming attractions like the merry-go-round and puppet theater at the Public Garden.

Bacalan — Continue north and you reach Bacalan, a former industrial area that has undergone a transformation in recent years. Today, the neighborhood’s biggest draw is La Cité du Vin—The City of Wine—a high-tech museum with interactive displays and tastings inside an innovative building shaped like a decanter.

La Bastide — Located on the right bank of the Garonne, La Bastide is another neighborhood that has recently seen a revival. Head to the Botanic Garden to enjoy a stroll along the water, grab a cocktail at one of the area’s cafes, or simply relax while taking in views of the Historic District from across the river.

What to See in Bordeaux

Soak in the awe-inspiring sights of Bordeaux aboard a Garonne River cruise boat. From a dock in Chartrons, board the boat and grab a spot on either the outdoor deck or in the temperature-controlled lounge. As you begin your ride down the water, gaze out upon a skyline of UNESCO-listed buildings, including the Gothic Bordeaux Cathedral, the historic Porte Cailhau gate, and the belltower of St. Michael’s, which stands 374 feet (114 m) above the streets. Marvel at the way the ornate facades of these structures play against newer creations like the state-of-the-art Cité du Vin and the reflecting pool outside Palace de la Bourse. Back on land, see the city from a different perspective—from up in the belltower itself.

Sightseeing in Bordeaux

Uncork the secrets of the Bordeaux wine region with a class that teaches you not only how to taste the vin like a pro, but to create your very own blend. Alongside a knowledgeable sommelier, learn to swirl, sniff, and sip some of the best blends that Bordeaux is known for, and then compare them to ones from other regions like Burgundy, Provence, and Champagne. Cap off your workshop with a chance to make your own Bordeaux-style blend using varietals such as cabernet, merlot, and malbec.

For an even more immersive wine experience, head out of the city into the countryside of Bordeaux. On a full-day tour, dive into the wonderful world of cabernet as you sip samples of the varietal in postcard-worthy towns such as Margaux and Saint-Julien. Visit some of the most jaw-dropping chateaus in the region while learning all about the history of the estates and the winemaking process.

Once back in the city, explore the incredible cultural and artistic options that Bordeaux has to offer. Wander your way through the old part of town to visit sites such as Palais Rohan, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Aquitaine. Take in a performance of opera at the royal Grand-Théâtre or see an over-the-top concert at the Mériadeck Rink. If Bordeaux’s world-famous wine is still on your mind, treat yourself to a sensory journey at La Cité du Vin. Work your way through the interactive displays and then savor a glass of fine wine while gazing out upon views from the 8th-floor observation deck.

Bordeaux Attractions

Perhaps rivaled only by Champagne on the opposite side of the country, there may be no region more closely tied to winemaking than Bordeaux. In the region alone, there are more than 7,000 chateaus, which together produce nearly 1 billion bottles of wine each year. Sitting in the southwest of France, the city of Bordeaux is the capital of this region. Alongside its mouthwatering wine, it’s famous for its picturesque plazas, world-class museums, and centuries-old architecture sharing the street with a bevy of striking new structures. Known for a certain brand of joy de vivre, locals can frequently be seen lingering over an aperitif at an outdoor cafe or enjoying a leisurely stroll along the waterfront of the winding Garonne River. In the heart of the city, Bordeaux buzzes with chic coffee shops, luxury boutiques, and elegant eateries, while more quirky and eclectic offerings can be found in the outer neighborhoods.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Bordeaux

From the heart of the Historic Center, the city’s neighborhoods sprawl out like a web. The majority of Bordeaux’s best landmarks and attractions can be found along the left bank of the Garonne River, sprinkled throughout districts that transition between the historically significant and the bohemian chic.

Downtown — At the center of the city, Downtown Bordeaux is where you’ll find much of the area’s most well-known sites, as well as an incredible selection of restaurants, hotels, and shopping streets. On the eastern side of the district, the Historic Center is home to breathtaking structures such as the columned Grand Théâtre, the Palace of the Bourse, and the 11th-century Bordeaux Cathedral. Just to the north, the Golden Triangle is an elegant area bursting with luxury boutiques and gourmet eateries, while Rue Sainte-Catherine to the south is the longest shopping street in all of Europe.

Capucins-Victoire — The Historic Center extends into the district of Capucins-Victoire, however, this area is more eclectic than its northern neighbor. Much of the district is centered around Saint-Michel, which is known for its diverse selection of multicultural eats. Come here to find everything from French and Italian to Moroccan, Hungarian, and Chinese cuisine. Four days a week, the streets near the basilica transform into a lively flea market, while down the road, colorful produce and fresh flowers can be found in the covered Capucins Market.

Chartons — North of Downtown, a cool, creative spirit imbues the more contemporary neighborhood of Chartons. Low-key bars fill centuries-old buildings, and the boardwalk along the water is lined with outdoor eateries, discount shopping, and a skating park. Nearby, explore contemporary art at the CAPC Museum, or enjoy charming attractions like the merry-go-round and puppet theater at the Public Garden.

Bacalan — Continue north and you reach Bacalan, a former industrial area that has undergone a transformation in recent years. Today, the neighborhood’s biggest draw is La Cité du Vin—The City of Wine—a high-tech museum with interactive displays and tastings inside an innovative building shaped like a decanter.

La Bastide — Located on the right bank of the Garonne, La Bastide is another neighborhood that has recently seen a revival. Head to the Botanic Garden to enjoy a stroll along the water, grab a cocktail at one of the area’s cafes, or simply relax while taking in views of the Historic District from across the river.

What to See in Bordeaux

Soak in the awe-inspiring sights of Bordeaux aboard a Garonne River cruise boat. From a dock in Chartrons, board the boat and grab a spot on either the outdoor deck or in the temperature-controlled lounge. As you begin your ride down the water, gaze out upon a skyline of UNESCO-listed buildings, including the Gothic Bordeaux Cathedral, the historic Porte Cailhau gate, and the belltower of St. Michael’s, which stands 374 feet (114 m) above the streets. Marvel at the way the ornate facades of these structures play against newer creations like the state-of-the-art Cité du Vin and the reflecting pool outside Palace de la Bourse. Back on land, see the city from a different perspective—from up in the belltower itself.

Sightseeing in Bordeaux

Uncork the secrets of the Bordeaux wine region with a class that teaches you not only how to taste the vin like a pro, but to create your very own blend. Alongside a knowledgeable sommelier, learn to swirl, sniff, and sip some of the best blends that Bordeaux is known for, and then compare them to ones from other regions like Burgundy, Provence, and Champagne. Cap off your workshop with a chance to make your own Bordeaux-style blend using varietals such as cabernet, merlot, and malbec.

For an even more immersive wine experience, head out of the city into the countryside of Bordeaux. On a full-day tour, dive into the wonderful world of cabernet as you sip samples of the varietal in postcard-worthy towns such as Margaux and Saint-Julien. Visit some of the most jaw-dropping chateaus in the region while learning all about the history of the estates and the winemaking process.

Once back in the city, explore the incredible cultural and artistic options that Bordeaux has to offer. Wander your way through the old part of town to visit sites such as Palais Rohan, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Aquitaine. Take in a performance of opera at the royal Grand-Théâtre or see an over-the-top concert at the Mériadeck Rink. If Bordeaux’s world-famous wine is still on your mind, treat yourself to a sensory journey at La Cité du Vin. Work your way through the interactive displays and then savor a glass of fine wine while gazing out upon views from the 8th-floor observation deck.


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Bordeaux must see attractions

1. Place de la Bourse

Place de la Bourse is an elegant city square, bordered by grand, palatial buildings and facing the Garonne River. Marvel at the perfect symmetry of the square and surrounding buildings, designed to reflect the king's power and bring Bordeaux into modernity.
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Place de la Bourse showing heritage architecture, night scenes and an administrative buidling

2. Rue Sainte-Catherine

Bordeaux’s Rue Sainte-Catherine (Saint Catherine Street) stretches as far as you can see from one end to the other. It is one of Europe’s longest commercial pedestrian streets, measuring 0.8 miles (1.2 kilometers) long. Walk freely along this street filled with people. It is closed to vehicles, apart from an occasional delivery van. Be sure to explore the many side streets that offer unique and interesting stores and places to eat.
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Bordeaux which includes a city and street scenes

3. Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux

Admire the exquisite French building, the Grand Theater of Bordeaux, home of the Bordeaux National Opera. This 18th-century architectural masterpiece fits well in a city of historic stone buildings and greets visitors with its row of statues of mythological figures sitting atop a row of Corinthian stone pillars. It is also the venue for many other acclaimed performances throughout the year.
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Bordeaux which includes heritage architecture and theater scenes

4. Place des Quinconces

The vast Place des Quinconces stretches for about 30 acres (120,000 square meters) across the center of Bordeaux, making it an ideal venue for concerts and festivals. Explore the tree-lined square and admire its ensemble of monuments, which are dotted around the edges of the plaza. Take in views of the adjacent Garonne River.
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Place des Quinconces which includes a statue or sculpture and a garden

5. Place de la Victoire

Like Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris, Place de la Victoire features an arch monument and has roads leading off in every direction toward other city neighborhoods. Unlike its bigger counterpart, however, Bordeaux's cool plaza is not swamped with tourists. The laid-back atmosphere here makes it an ideal place to linger a while. Rest from sightseeing at one of the square’s cafés and bars and watch people coming and going.
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Place de la Victoire

What to do in Bordeaux

Free Things to Do in Bordeaux

Sightseeing on a lean budget in Bordeaux? Spend time instead of cash on terrific experiences.

National Centre Jean Moulin - Speak to the friendly staff and learn all about the fascinating collections on display at this museum.

The Water Mirror - Make your way here for a relaxing dip and let your inner water lover swim free.

Pont de Saint-Jean - Architecture connoisseur or not, you're certain to be impressed by this landmark's modern design.

Great Bell Bordeaux - If you plan to explore the history of the region through its landmarks, add this one to your itinerary.

Vinet Square - Spend a while in this thriving area and imagine life as a local resident.

Porte de Bourgogne - If you'd love to see a few of the more important or interesting places in the community, this is a great place to start.

Cathedrale St. Andre - No matter your religious leanings, this place is sure to inspire a sense of reverence.

Jardin Public - Renew your body, mind and soul by spending time with Mother Nature.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Bordeaux

From the heart of the Historic Center, the city’s neighborhoods sprawl out like a web. The majority of Bordeaux’s best landmarks and attractions can be found along the left bank of the Garonne River, sprinkled throughout districts that transition between the historically significant and the bohemian chic.

Downtown — At the center of the city, Downtown Bordeaux is where you’ll find much of the area’s most well-known sites, as well as an incredible selection of restaurants, hotels, and shopping streets. On the eastern side of the district, the Historic Center is home to breathtaking structures such as the columned Grand Théâtre, the Palace of the Bourse, and the 11th-century Bordeaux Cathedral. Just to the north, the Golden Triangle is an elegant area bursting with luxury boutiques and gourmet eateries, while Rue Sainte-Catherine to the south is the longest shopping street in all of Europe.

Capucins-Victoire — The Historic Center extends into the district of Capucins-Victoire, however, this area is more eclectic than its northern neighbor. Much of the district is centered around Saint-Michel, which is known for its diverse selection of multicultural eats. Come here to find everything from French and Italian to Moroccan, Hungarian, and Chinese cuisine. Four days a week, the streets near the basilica transform into a lively flea market, while down the road, colorful produce and fresh flowers can be found in the covered Capucins Market.

Chartons — North of Downtown, a cool, creative spirit imbues the more contemporary neighborhood of Chartons. Low-key bars fill centuries-old buildings, and the boardwalk along the water is lined with outdoor eateries, discount shopping, and a skating park. Nearby, explore contemporary art at the CAPC Museum, or enjoy charming attractions like the merry-go-round and puppet theater at the Public Garden.

Bacalan — Continue north and you reach Bacalan, a former industrial area that has undergone a transformation in recent years. Today, the neighborhood’s biggest draw is La Cité du Vin—The City of Wine—a high-tech museum with interactive displays and tastings inside an innovative building shaped like a decanter.

La Bastide — Located on the right bank of the Garonne, La Bastide is another neighborhood that has recently seen a revival. Head to the Botanic Garden to enjoy a stroll along the water, grab a cocktail at one of the area’s cafes, or simply relax while taking in views of the Historic District from across the river.

What to See in Bordeaux

Soak in the awe-inspiring sights of Bordeaux aboard a Garonne River cruise boat. From a dock in Chartrons, board the boat and grab a spot on either the outdoor deck or in the temperature-controlled lounge. As you begin your ride down the water, gaze out upon a skyline of UNESCO-listed buildings, including the Gothic Bordeaux Cathedral, the historic Porte Cailhau gate, and the belltower of St. Michael’s, which stands 374 feet (114 m) above the streets. Marvel at the way the ornate facades of these structures play against newer creations like the state-of-the-art Cité du Vin and the reflecting pool outside Palace de la Bourse. Back on land, see the city from a different perspective—from up in the belltower itself.

Sightseeing in Bordeaux

Uncork the secrets of the Bordeaux wine region with a class that teaches you not only how to taste the vin like a pro, but to create your very own blend. Alongside a knowledgeable sommelier, learn to swirl, sniff, and sip some of the best blends that Bordeaux is known for, and then compare them to ones from other regions like Burgundy, Provence, and Champagne. Cap off your workshop with a chance to make your own Bordeaux-style blend using varietals such as cabernet, merlot, and malbec.

For an even more immersive wine experience, head out of the city into the countryside of Bordeaux. On a full-day tour, dive into the wonderful world of cabernet as you sip samples of the varietal in postcard-worthy towns such as Margaux and Saint-Julien. Visit some of the most jaw-dropping chateaus in the region while learning all about the history of the estates and the winemaking process.

Once back in the city, explore the incredible cultural and artistic options that Bordeaux has to offer. Wander your way through the old part of town to visit sites such as Palais Rohan, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Aquitaine. Take in a performance of opera at the royal Grand-Théâtre or see an over-the-top concert at the Mériadeck Rink. If Bordeaux’s world-famous wine is still on your mind, treat yourself to a sensory journey at La Cité du Vin. Work your way through the interactive displays and then savor a glass of fine wine while gazing out upon views from the 8th-floor observation deck.

Things to Do in Bordeaux with Kids

There's fun for all the family wherever you go in Bordeaux. Here are a few family friendly experiences to enjoy together that are bound to make your break memorable:


 

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Frequently asked questions

What to do in Bordeaux on a sunny day?
What to do in Bordeaux on a rainy day?
A Bordeaux: The Cellar Keys Wine Tour and Tasting is a terrific indoor activity to try if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
What is Bordeaux famous for?
Aquitaine Museum is usually mentioned in the same breath as Bordeaux, so don’t forget to visit.
What should I not miss in Bordeaux?
You’ll want to put these things toward the top of your must-do list to get the most out of your visit:

  • Place de la Bourse
  • St. Michael Basilica
  • Place de la Victoire
  • Cathedrale St. Andre

Are there cheap things to do in Bordeaux?
What can you do in Bordeaux for free?
Your time in Bordeaux doesn’t have to cost a fortune with free attractions like these to keep you on the go:

  • Place de la Bourse
  • St. Michael Basilica
  • Place de la Victoire
  • Cathedrale St. Andre


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