Two budget Bordeaux hotels and eating cheaply in the city

by Phil Lowe

You love France and want to explore the city of Bordeaux for a short stay and you need somewhere nice to stay without a big price tag.You won't be bored in Bordeaux and it needn't cost the earth!

If you are planning a trip to the beautiful French city of Bordeaux on a budget I would love to share with you two personal hotel recommendations in central Bordeaux. They are both small two star hotels that I have had the pleasure of staying in on my three trips to Bordeaux for leisure breaks. Secondly, I will recommend some ways that you can eat cheaply without compromising on the quality of food you enjoy in this fabulous French city.

Two budget hotels

First is the Hôtel Notre Dame, 36-38 rue Notre Dame. This is a charming two star hotel in the centre of the Chartrons district of Bordeaux. To walk into the city centre via a ten minute stroll along the river front or through the back streets of this famous antiques district. Both routes take you the Quinconces Square, a major tram stop and the main Tourist Office is situated on the corner. See

The room was very cosy and, as a single visitor, I had a nice large bath/shower and a comfy double bed. Max, the hotel manager spoke very good English. Breakfast was a simple affair with a choice of tea/coffee/hot chocolate and a fruit juice. A croissant and a mini baguette with butter and jam was provided each morning.. The same breakfast at 7€ is offered each day so if you are planning a long stay and want some variety there are plenty of coffee places nearby. I stayed for 14 nights on a reasonably tight budget and was pleased with the value I got for 810€ including breakfast and local taxes = roughly 58€ per night. Their website offers all the current rates.

Positives: Very friendly welcome. Good location. Clean comfortable rooms. Close to city centre. Unpretentious and professionally run. Close to tram system. Good value.

Negatives: There are two floors and no lift. The stairway is quite tight and awkward to heave suitcases up and down. Bit noisy at times with people arriving at odd hours. Nothing out of the ordinary for a small hotel, however.

Contact details: Hôtel Notre Dame: +33 5 56 52 88 24

The second two star hotel (two stays) is the Hôtel de l’Opera at 35 rue Espirit-Des-Lois. The hotel is in an 18th Century building and is situated slightly back off the street alongside the Grand Théâtre and is a tranquil haven for travellers.

Again, I felt welcomed by the staff at this family run establishment. The reception is on the second floor and doubles as a bright and airy breakfast room in the mornings.

My bedrooms, each time, were comfortably small with a double bed and had a view out to the side of the Grand Théâtre and Place de la Comêdie. The street facing rooms have a small balcony. The bathroom facilities were clean and adequate (shower, sink and toilet only). The room was decorated in a modern style and the bed was sublimely comfortable. My daily rate was 60€ for a single room plus 7€ for breakfast with additional local tax for the accommodation. The breakfast room itself was very airy and newly decorated when I last stayed.

In terms of location you couldn’t pick a better spot and all the attractions of Bordeaux are within three minutes walk of the hotel front door. The Bordeaux Airport bus (Jetbus) will drop you off outside the Tourist Office and you only have a short five minute walk with your bags to the hotel main entrance which is clearly signposted from the street. This is another perfect venue to enjoy Bordeaux on a budget.

Positives: Very friendly staff. Lift to rooms. Secure building at night with security gate on street level. Reception is in the bright breakfast room on the second floor. Rooms were surprisingly quiet for city centre and refreshingly cool on hot days.

Negatives: None really. The only reason I didn’t stay here again on my third visit to Bordeaux was that the hotel was fully booked.

Contact details: Hôtel de l’Opéra: +33 5 56 81 41 27

Website: Includes sister hotel Hôtel des 4 Soeurs.

Both hotels are very close to the centre of the city and within easy walking distance of the main shopping street- Rue Ste Catherine- and the main historic and  touristic areas of Bordeaux. After an afternoon's exploring it is so good to creep back to the hotel and chill until the evening beckons. Of an evening join the locals and wander slowly along the Garonne riverfront as the sun sets.

Eating cheaply.

As in the UK you can always take a trip to the supermarket and picnic in your hotel room or in the park for free. The Monoprix supermarket is a foodie haven to look around and make those special continental food purchases for a quarter of the price you might pay in Britain.  You will find that the shelves are full of local produce and the cooked meats sections and cheese sections are to die for. It's great to stock up on cooked meats and avoid the smellier cheeses if you have no fridge in your room and you don't want to stink the place out! Monoprix is on the lower floor of the shopping centre at Place Pey Berland near to the Cathedral.

There is another central supermarket again on the lower floor at the Grand Hommes shopping centre and the prices (for such an expensive area) are very reasonable. If you want salad and veg don't forget to weigh them before queuing at the till. Grand Hommes is opposite the famous Bejottes hardware store on Place des Grands Hommes. There are also a few excellent stalls selling meat, artisanal breads and fish on the same level.

Fantastic Sunday food market.

If you happen to be in town on a Sunday morning head for the open food market on the quayside (look for massive cruise ships) in the Chartrons area. The market has a wonderful vibrant atmosphere and fantastic stalls selling fresh fish, roast chickens tasty enough to break your heart, oysters to eat there and then, regional dishes in a take away pot ( I had a squid and tomato dish and have never tasted better), mountains of fresh vegetables and salad and an enormous selection of breads and cheeses. The meat stands are yummy, but only if you are self catering of course. The open market opens about 8am an closes around 2pm.

One of my fave places that I visit again and again is the Cinema Utopia at 5, place Camille Jullian (half way down Rue Ste Catherine). See  Turn left at Rue de la Merci just as the main street opens out into a square. It is an old church (St Simeons) that has been converted into a three screen cinema and cafe bar. You can't miss it. You will feel that you have died and gone to French heaven. Je promis.

They serve assiettes (a plated selection of food) of various regional origins and baguettes to eat in. With each assiette you get a basket of bread pieces and a bottle of water included and they cost between 10 to 12 Euros. My recommendation would be the Assiette du Boucher with succulent pan fried beef and crunchy vegetables. The Meteor beer is pretty good too. This place is very popular with the locals. No booking required but you may have to wait for a table in busy times.

One final recommendation comes from the chef Rick Stein in his popular TV series French Odyssey. Rick recommends eating at the Brasserie in train stations. I would certainly concur as I ate at the Bordeaux station Brasserie several times. The food is regionally influenced, fresh and a fraction of the price of a similar place city centre. Should you be too full to walk back into town you can always catch the tram!

Phil Lowe

I am a writer who enjoys travelling with the challenges of a low budget. Sometimes a lack of the reddies can make travelling an adventure and most importantly a chance to experience something of the life of a virtual local - living life daily through the markets of the town or city and blending in - no longer a tourist - but an observer of all the colours and language of the culture one is immersed in.

As a passionate foodie and lover of the arts (I act and write for the theatre) I enjoy keeping my regular  followers up to date with my most recent thoughts and observations through my blogs at and

Currently I also enjoy writing theatre reviews for

I like to write with humour and with honesty and to help people discover and enjoy my world view.