Bordeaux is a lovely, historic little city in the South-West of France. With its proximity to the sea and famous for its wine regions, the city is a destination for many tourists from around the globe, but as well for French people themselves. Many even call it ‘Little Paris’, because it’s as atmospheric and the architecture is very alike, just the stress is less with a smaller number of cars and buzzing sounds.
As it’s a university city and a well-known location for Erasmus exchange, there is many young people, cool bars, modern cafés and restaurants. There is a river and as it’s the case with many cities, life is centered mainly on the left river bank. There is a nice artsy area and some projects appearing on the right side, but that’s rather an exception.
Must-see’s definitely are the big bell, ‘La grosse cloche’, the Saint-André cathedral, the market ‘Marché des Capucins’ and the area St. Michel, the inner city and old town, the grand theater, the ‘Place de la Bourse’ and the bridge ‘Pont de Pierre’, just to name a few. I also liked the area around the ‘Jardin Public’, a big public park. You should do some research, though, before visiting the city; not only because of the interesting history, but also because of the cultural activities it has to offer.
I am not an expert, I’ve been to Bordeaux only once in January for four days, but I tried to find some cool places, while also trying to experience the true, local flair of this beautiful spot. The following is a little list of places I have visited and liked a lot, I hope you find interest in them, too. We stayed in a rental apartment in ‘centre-ville’, which is great cause you can reach all sights quickly by foot, but staying a bit further from the city center is fine, too, as it is not a very big city.
My Bordeaux To-Do List:
This restaurant is inspired by much more than French cuisine. The word ‘miles’ already entails the meaning. Chef’s at this nice, quite hidden, spot in the city center come from Israel, Japan, New Caledonia and France/Vietnam. They all worked at top restaurants before, such as Arpege or Chateaubriand (both in Paris). If you come here for lunch you get a 4-course surprise menu for 29€ only. We had ravioli as entree, fish as first main, then veal with black salsify puree, a mix of walnuts, parmesan and olives and a delicious foam. Dessert was saffron ice cream on mango and tarragon, whipped cream with rose and pistachio brittle (amagad!!). The open bar/kitchen allows you to watch the cooks preparing the magic that will land on your plate,
Price Range: Lunch menu 27-32€, 48€ during dinner
Place de la Comédie and Place de la Bourse:
Very pretty during evening or night, these two squares are a must see and shouldn’t be lacking in your Bordeaux photo-album. They’re located a few minutes apart from each other, but the walk connecting the two spots is a very nice one, too.
Le Bar a Vin:
Are you a friend of wine? A wine lover? Can’t you resist this divine smell of a burgundy coloured glas of red? Ok, I don’t want to exaggerate here, but this wine bar is pretty cool for a calm night with parents, some romantic moments with that very special (or semi-special) person or even for a night full of fun and laughter with a bunch of good friends. If you’re unlucky, there might be a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it. The Art deco style of this place, together with shelfs full of wine bottles and the very cheap prices make this place a popular spot for both locals and tourists. The place belongs to the Conseil interprofessionnel du vin de Bordeaux and so it’s curious and friendly young people serving you while being more than happy to make their knowledge about wine yours, too. They also offer little plates with cheese and ham.
Price Range: around 3-7€ for a glass of good wine that certainly doesn’t give you a headache the morning after
Marché des Cappucins:
Very vibrant and full of people during weekends, bu also partly open during the week, this market has everything to offer from fresh fruit and vegetables, over fish and meat to fresh baked goods. I (because my lovely travel companion is not the biggest seafood friend) started into the day with some oysters and a bunch of prawns, a true protein mix. Chez Jean-Mi is serving fresh seafood through the whole week. It’s located right at the Northern entrance of the market, providing some seating and some places at the bar.
After this, you just need to walk over to the lovely lady who is selling Macarons and more importantly the typical Bordeaux pastry: Canneles. I liked them even more here than at the other “typical” and more touristy spots in the city that are recommended by travel guides.You choose whether you want them crustillantes or less croustillantes, which means darker and crispier on the outside or lighter and more gooey. I’ll always opt for the cripsy option, where they are caramellized to a perfect consistency.
Good to know: Place des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux, marchedescapucins.com, Open around 06:00-14:30 every day
The Saint Michel area:
After having visited the market, it’s nice to walk around the Saint Michel area, or to simply sit down at one of its cafes and enjoy a fresh, hot mint tea.
Or you simply head over to this pretty little bakery that will make you want to buy every single pasrty it has to offer semicolon. whether it’s a pain au chocolat, a chausson aux pommes or an escargot au pistache, you can’t make a wrong choice here.
Price Range: around 1-5€ for pastries, baguette, croissant etc.
This individual, alternative space is dedicated to responsable and sustainable economic and ecologic development and active citizenship, where a bio supermarket, a co-working space and a sustainable restaurant is located. It’s a nice spot to visit, in case you happen to have enough time in Bordeaux. However, if you´re only visiting for the weekend it might be a bit too far.
‘Pretty countryside’, that’s what Belle Campagne means. The things that are happening here are vraiment, tres belles. We shared two starters, which was some kind of beet puree with a poached egg and the other one was an apple-pumpkin soup. One of the main dishes was aligot (super creamy mashed potatoes with TONS of cheese in it – oh yes, it tastes as good as it sounds) with confit de canard (duck) on top. I had delicious, tender pork belly on white beans and shallots cooked in red wine. All their ingredients are regional and seasonal. For the upstairs area it’s recommended to reserve at least a day in advance and downstairs you can order rather tapas-style dishes which you can enjoy at one of their bar tables. The interior is lovely, individual and very cosy. Waiters are more than patient and friendly.
Price Range: around 8-14€ for starters and 16-30€ for mains
Bar La Comtesse:
Recommended by a true Bordeaux connoisseur and petite gourmande, this is a nice spot for a relaxed evening for a raspberry mojito, or any other cocktail you might fancy. The armchairs, chandeliers and the dimmed light make you feel truly comfy and in a romantic mood 😉
Price Range: around 6-14€ cocktails
The area around the ‘Jardin Public’: The area around the public garden, a big park in the North of the city, is nice to walk around, enjoy the flair of the area and city, do some antique shops window shopping and possibly sit down for a coffee.