Bordeaux: grand city, great wine

By Natasha Blair, a Travel Professional

Read more on Bordeaux.

Overall rating:4.5 out of 5 (based on 2 votes)
Recommended for:
Food and Drink, Short Break, Mid-range

Bordeaux's city centre, with its 18th-century architecture, has recently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's also a great base for visiting the local vineyards

When I think of Bordeaux, wine comes to mind. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the city itself is an 18th-century architectural gem. The neo-classical Grand Theatre, with its 12 towering columns topped with gargoyles, is a fitting centre. In its portals, the Café Louis is very ornate, with high ceiling and chandeliers. The tourist office, rather than hidden away down some side street, is centrally positioned opposite the Wine Council, and very active.
A few doors away from the tourist office, you'll find constant queues at the non-bookable L’Entrecôte, a restaurant that has a fixed price menu for under €20, serving entrecote steak, French fries, a green salad and dessert.
The baroque architecture of the Stock Exchange buildings is reflected in the water of the city’s latest tourist attraction, a large expanse of water. From time to time fountains appear, but when they disappear both children and grown-ups alike rush in to play or have their photograph taken. This piece of art is on the promenade near to the River Garonne, where at weekends the locals come to stroll. Nearby is Bar Castan, one of the city's oldest cafes, which has retained its Art Nouveau decoration, and is somewhere to stop for a coffee or Lillet, the local aperitif.
Electric trains make getting around fairly easy. We took one of these to visit the latest development. The warehouses in the north of the city bordering the river have now been turned into trendy shops and restaurants. Young people are sunning themselves on loungers, exotic looking drinks at their side. Bordeaux is a university town so there are lots of affordable places to eat as well as the more chic eateries. The warehouse district is definitely for the hip and trendy.
Bordeaux has its fair share of museums, and admission at most of them is free for the permanent exhibitions. With so little time and so much to see, I decided to join one of the many organised tours that homes in on the regional food and wine. The CIVB or Wine Council, an imposing but rather bland-looking building opposite the tourist office, also doubles as a very modern wine bar. If it wasn’t part of my tour, I’m sure I wouldn’t have known to go there. It is well worth a visit as although it is informal, it is unique, with sommeliers to help you choose the wine. As well as running comprehensive wine courses, there are also short two-hour sessions.
It was also on the walk that I found out what makes Bordeaux-style entrecôte steak so special (it is grilled over vine-prunings) and was told about the restaurant Baud & Millet, which specialises in cheese and wine. Hidden in a back street and with very few tables, its cellar houses an enormous cold room in which are displayed over 50 different types of cheese. This is very much a neighbourhood restaurant where, while we were eating, locals popped in for a glass of wine and a chat with the owner. Apart from choosing the cheese, another delight was tasting, on the owner’s recommendation, suitable wines to go with the cheese. On the way home we passed Chez Pom Pom, which had crowds of young people standing outside on the pavement and is obviously the “in” trendy place to hang out.
There are numerous excursions available to the wine regions of Bordeaux - Médoc, St. Emilion, Sauternes - as well as itineraries for those who choose to make their own way there. A short break to Bordeaux made me eager to return for a visit to some of the vineyards.

Save money on booking

flightshotelscar hire

by following our money-saving guides. They are written by our Simonseeks team of travel gurus.

More information on Bordeaux: grand city, great wine:

Natasha Blair
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
Total views:
First uploaded:
1 April 2009
Last updated:
5 years 30 weeks 1 day 5 hours 52 min 50 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Budget level:

What do you think of this guide?

Did it tell you what you needed to know?
Do you agree with the writer's recommendations?

Share your views by leaving a comment on this page.

Community comments (2)

0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I thought that the review gave some good information regarding the individuals that may be interested in the wine aspects of this famous wine growing city and environs.

It may have been worth mentioning the wine festival and when the next event is happening or the regularity of the events. Bordeaux is a city that often does lots of other festivals and these can be discovered at the Tourist Office in the Golden Triangle, city centre. Also they do wine discovery tours by coach each day.

I did enjoy reading the review but felt that the information was slightly unfocused.As an general view of the city it was moderately good. The relatively new Tram system should certainly be mentioned as great way to get about the city without exhausting the feet!

Was this comment useful?
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

A fabulous review. I must admit I was always a little dismisive of France. It invoked thoughts of school when we were off too Spain and some scool mates were gowing to france with thier mum and dad - Camping! What was that all about. So I was 27 when I first visit France and Bordeaux and stayed for two glorious weeks in St. Emilion wine region. Great weather, great wine, great people. Flitting visits to Bordeaux I never really got to experience the delights. Reading the review really makes me want to return and this time spend my time in the heart of Bordeaux. My first trip was my honeymoon, well I say honeymoon - Me, my new wife and the rest of my family! Still It was a great time and very romantic as we went off to expereince some of the wine region and Bordeaux itself. The guide picture brings back some really fond memories and certainy a place I will return to soon. Think I've already mentioned but hey praise where its due - great review!

Was this comment useful?