Are you wondering what to do in Bordeaux, France if you’re pressed on time? Winalist can help you understand the best top sights to see if you’ve got less than two days to explore one of France’s most beautiful wine regions. No matter how much time you spend in Bordeaux, France, we’re confident you’ll be happy you made the effort to visit this beautiful city and region.
About Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007 for its infamous port, is a town in the south western part of France. Renowned for its wine, exceptional cultural heritage, and majestic vineyards, Bordeaux is an international destination bound to please any tourist.
This city is made up of more than 350 historical monuments, which makes it the second city in France after Paris with the most monuments classified or listed as historical monuments in the country.
Bordeaux is a city steeped in wine culture. A well-known vineyard with an area of 117,200 hectares bears his name: the “Vignoble de Bordeaux” (i.e. Bordeaux vineyard). This extensive vineyard brings together all the vines located in the Gironde department, the third French wine-growing department in terms of production after Aube and Hérault.
What to do in Bordeaux, France for 2 days
Whether with family, friends or as a couple, you’ll discover a plethora of activities during your time in Bordeaux, France, including (but not limited to):
- Historical monuments and museums.
- Strolls along the quays (docks).
- Most of all: organize yourself a Bordeaux wine tour, most appreciated by tourists and worldwide wine lovers.
We advise you to first opt for a visit to the city and its most popular districts.
You can also consider buying a Bordeaux city pass. This pass is available for 24, 48, or 72 hours and allows you to visit over 15 monuments and museums, La Cité du Vin, Les Bassins des Lumières, and other important destinations.
The Saint-Pierre district of Bordeaux, France is one of the oldest and most well-known districts of the city. It dates back to the 12th century and is one of the most popular things to do in Bordeaux.
If you’re wondering what to do in Bordeaux, France, take a walk to Place de la Bourse where the city’s famous water mirror is located, built in 2006. At night, the Hôtel de la Bourse, which is located just behind this body of water, is reflected in it and offers a magnificent spectacle.
During your visit to Bordeaux, be sure to visit the Quinconces district. This district is home to Place des Quinconces, said to be the largest square in France due to its area of nearly 30 acres.
This square is full of life; parties and open-air concerts take place here regularly. Sometimes, tourists find transient circuses in this square that stay for a few days. This place is recognizable by its large columns of 21 meters called “rostral columns” which were used at the time to celebrate a maritime victory.
Since the end of July 2006, Bordeaux has had the largest water mirror in the world (3,450m²).
This district with pedestrian streets is near the Town Hall and the sumptuous Saint-André Cathedral, classified as a Historic Monument and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During your visit to this district, you will discover many museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Aquitaine, Decorative Arts, the Design Museum or the Jean Moulin Museum.
Bordeaux wine museums
Do not miss the Bordeaux wine and trade museum located in the Chartrons district. This one is quite original since it offers visits to the museum but also oenological workshops or even escape games accompanied by a tasting.
In the continuation of this wine journey, go to the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux where you will be offered a free visit of the premises as well as a tasting at the Belvédère at 35 meters above sea level. Sometimes defined as the beacon of Bordeaux wine tourism or the totem of Bordeaux, La Cité du Vin never ceases to seduce travelers – a place not to be missed! Many ephemeral exhibitions are also presented there.
What are the grape varieties and specificities of Bordeaux wines?
The Bordeaux vineyard is a stopover not to be missed during your weekend. You will be able to meet the region’s winegrowers who will be delighted to welcome you to their land and present you their vines, and most of all make you taste their cuvées.
Let us remember that the size of the Bordeaux vineyard is 117,200 hectares and that its notoriety is well established. The Bordeaux Wine Route extends over 110 kilometers from east to west and 130 kilometers from north to south: a long enough route to discover many castles on your way.
The quantity of wine produced in this vineyard reaches 6,000,000 hectoliters, of which 11% of the production includes dry and sweet white wines and 89% of it includes red and rosé wines.
We owe this production to the 8,650 châteaux, 300 trading houses, and 93 brokers located in the region’s vineyards. Among them, we find the well-known Château Margaux, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Pétrus and many more.
Bordeaux vineyards have over 40 AOC wine appellations (controlled designation of origin) and 2 IGP wine appellations (protected geographical indication). The main grape varieties of this vineyard are as follows.
The following white grape varietals are found in Bordeaux:
- Muscadelle: this variety is present in all blends of white wines, it gives a delicate and light side to the wines.
- Sauvignon: it gives very fresh and aromatic wines and represents 21% of Bordeaux white grape varieties.
- Sémillon: we find it in all the white wines of Bordeaux and in particular in Sauternes, it represents 60% of the vineyard and its wines are generally more alcoholic.
Red grape varieties include:
- Merlot: it gives slightly acidic wines and is present in all Bordeaux appellations. It represents 50% of the vineyard.
- Cabernet-Sauvignon: its wines are high in tannins and low in alcohol, unlike Merlot. It is found more in the Médoc and in the Graves.
- Cabernet-franc: it covers 15% of the vineyard and produces fairly fine wines on the palate and on the nose.
Taste wines from estates around Bordeaux
To discover all the specificities of this region’s wines and enjoy your time in Bordeaux, there is no better way to treat yourself and friends/family than by tasting wine with authentic Bordeaux winemakers!
Take the road to discover superb wine nuggets like in Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. As a historic terroir of great wine in the Sauternes appellation, it offers you the ability to taste three incredible wines: a Dry White wine, a Sauternes wine, and a Premier Grand Cru Classé. For those who want to discover some extra delights, stop at snack time at the Château Fombrauge where you will experience food and wine pairings between 3 Bernard Magrez wines and Saint-Emilion macaroons.
For those with a sweet tooth, stop for tea time at Château Fombrauge where you will discover the food and wine pairings between 3 Bernard Magrez wines and Saint-Emilion macaroons.
Winalist Knows What to do in Bordeaux
Winalist offers you more than 150 activities to experience around Bordeaux. Take advantage of these moments to combine the good taste of wine with the pleasure of experiencing an activity with family or friends.
What to do in Bordeaux FAQ
Why are Bordeaux wine so famous?
Bordeaux wines are world-renowned blends and the most famous wines on earth, mostly because of the city’s historical heritage and the wines’ aging potential. Bordeaux has produced fine wines for centuries thanks to the region’s optimal climate and soil for excellent viticulture.
What makes a good Bordeaux wine?
Bordeaux’s wine quality starts with perfectly ripen grapes, when the vintage’s climate criteria are gathered. Bordeaux wines are blends either Merlot-dominated or Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated, depending on the wineries location in the area.
What food pairing with Bordeaux wine?
Lighter “every-day” Bordeaux red wines are perfectly paired with Charcuterie platters and simple grilled meat. For Cabernet-dominated blends, you will most appreciate roast lamb, beef and veal, together with aged cheese. As for Merlot-dominated blends, duck will do, with a slice of Brie of course!
Shopping in Bordeaux
From Place de la Bourse, head west on Rue Saint-Rémi then towards Rue Dieu and left to join the Sainte-Catherine Street.
You are now on the longest shopping and pedestrian street in Europe: 1 meters long and almost 200 km of windows!
Entirely pedestrianized since 1984, this street cuts the city center by a North-South axis which connects the Place de la Comédie to the Place de la Victoire.
Museum in Bordeaux
Visit one of the many museums in Bordeaux
The CAPC (Contemporary Art Museum of Bordeaux), Aquitaine Museum, Decorative Arts Museum, Jean Moulin Center, Fine Arts Museum, Companions Museum, Customs Museum, Ethnography Museum, Wine and Wine Museum trade, Maritime History Museum, Bordeaux Museum.
Visit the local food markets in Bordeaux
A short walk along the main street leading away from the tower is Marché des Capucins, the largest market in Bordeaux, and a place that was firmly on our must-visit list. Passing numerous cafes selling African and Middles Eastern food, as well as a market selling cheap imitation Nikes and other fashion items, we started to see the evidence of the market.
Lettuce leaves, peeled off their round bodies were strewn in the gutters and fruit and vegetable boxes, once full of produce were now all piled up on the side of the streets. With each step, the sounds of the market became more obvious, as the vendors spruiked their wares and encouraged us to come and try. Like so many of these wonderful French markets, people come here to eat as well as to buy. Friends stood around wooden barrels, shucking their own oysters and washing them down with a glass of rosé. On Sundays, along the promenade, the Marché des Quais is another good market. Much smaller than the main market, it does, however, get quite busy on the days that the huge cruise ships are in port.
Where to stay in Bordeaux ?
There are so many Bordeaux hotels to choose from if you are planning on staying in the heart of the city.
Luxury hotels in Bordeaux
For location, there’s probably no better spot than the Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel on the Place de la Comedie.
You can read the reviews on Tripadvisor
For something outside a chain, try the Le Boutique Hotel.
A more compact hotel but with great reviews on Trip Advisor.
Apartments in Bordeaux
Located right near the Pont de Pierre Bridge, the Appartements Bordeaux Saint Michel allow for self-catering and more of a mid-range price.
Mid-range hotels in Bordeaux
The Mercure Bordeaux Centre Hotel offers good proximity to all the major areas of Bordeaux’s centre whilst not being too heavy on your wallet. It’s a standard Mercure offering, without any frills.