At its heart, Bordeaux is about wine: how to make it, how to sell it and most importantly how to enjoy drinking it. But offering amazing restaurants, great wine bars and fun wine activities isn’t all the city has to offer. There is an abundance of great places to visit and things to do. Here’s our list of the 10 top things to do in Bordeaux.
Perched on the edge of the Arcachon Basin, just 65 kilometres outside of the Bordeaux city center, the Dune du Pilat, at over 100 meters tall, is the largest sand dune in all of Europe. Worth the drive, and the climb, from this amazing vantage point you can discover the Arcacho Basin, the Atlantic Ocean, nearby forests and if the day is clear, a beautiful view of the Bordeaux surrounds – Dune du Pilat, Route d’Arcachon à Biscarrosse, La Teste-de-Buch 33260, +33 (0)5 56 22 12 85.
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The area of Chartrons was once the historic heart of the wine trade in Bordeaux, so it is only fitting that today, it is where you find the Musee de Vin et Negoce (Wine and Trade Museum). Open daily; this museum is high on the list of things to do in Bordeaux and can be found in the ancient cellars of the official Wine Merchant of King Louis XV. For just ten euros you can discover the history of the Bordeaux wine region and enjoy a tasting – Musee de Vin et Negoce, Cellier de des Chartrons, 41 Rue Borie, Bordeaux 33300, +33 (0)5 56 90 19 13.
3. Cap Ferret
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The French Oyster capital, Cap Ferret is the promontory that forms one half of the Arcachon Basin and overlooks the Dune du Pilat. Despite its beautiful beaches, the Cap Ferret coastline plays home to the oyster beds that have made it famous. Take a boat tour to spot the beds or indulge in fresh oysters in the farming districts of L’Herbe, le Canon or Piraillan – Oyster beds at Cap Ferret, Cap Ferret.
If you’re thinking of things to do in Bordeaux, think of the stunning Jardin Public which offers the perfect escape from the hustle of the city. Created in 1746, this 10 hectare (25-acre park) offers an arboretum, a library and a Museum of Natural History. In addition, the park offers distractions for children including a puppet theatre, playgrounds and a carousel – Jardin Public, Place Champs de Mars, Bordeaux 33000.
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Designed in the 19th century as a public promenade, the Parc Bordelaise stretches across 28 hectares (69 acres) and is home to over 3000 trees. The park features a farm with local animals, a small train, electric cars, rides, swings and a puppet theatre. Quieter than the Jardin Public, the Parc Bordelaise is a unique chance to mix with locals and enjoy the beautiful gardens – Parc Bordelaise, Rue du Bocage, Bordeaux 33000.
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Certainly one of the top things to do in Bordeaux, built by the occupying Germans during World War II to house submarines along the Atlantic coast, today the Base Sous Marine is a unique cultural center. With only a small portion open to the public, this distinctive center plays host to exhibitions, concerts, theatre and more – Base Sous Marine, Boulevard Alfred Daney, Bordeaux 33300.
7. Miroir d’Eau
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Perched along the riverbank next to the beautiful Place de la Bourse, the Miroir d’Eau is the largest reflecting pool in the world. Reflecting both the sun and the city’s morning fog, the Miroir d’Eau is a unique venue for a morning or afternoon walk – Miroir d’Eau, Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux 33000.
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Established as a bridge between tradition and innovation, the Bernard Magrez Institute Culturel is a unique experience. A privately-owned center, Bernard Margrez aims to provide the public with access to contemporary art in the Chateau Labottiere, inside the Bordeaux city limits – Bernard Magrez Institut Culturel, 16 Rue de Tivoli, Bordeaux 33000, +33 (0)5 56 81 72 77.
A five-star luxury hotel, Les Sources de Caudalie is also the home of the celebrated spa that gave birth to the world-renowned grape-based skincare line. Perched on the Smith Haut Lafitte estate in the greater Pessac area, the spa at Les Sources de Caudalie is easily accessible from the Bordeaux city center. Take a break from all the good food and wine to discover another one of Bordeaux’ great jewels and pamper your body – Les Sources de Caudalie, Smith Haut Lafitte, Martillac 33650.
10. Saint Emilion
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, located just 35 kilometres outside of Bordeaux, the village of Saint Emilion is the celebrated center of Left Bank wine production. This ancient village dates to prehistoric times, with the unique Romanesque architecture and ruins scattered across the narrow and steep streets. Visit the picturesque village and discover not only the famous wines but also the classic and utterly distinctive St. Emilion macarons.
BONUS: La Vie en Rose – A quaint little tea shop on the Place de Chartrons, next to the stunning Church of Notre Dame, La Vie en Rose is a step away from reality. Offering stunning tea blends and delicious pastries, the quiet shop and sweet garden offer the perfect afternoon haven. Step away from the bustle of the city and take a few minutes to relax – La Vie en Rose, 8 Rue Sicard, Bordeaux 33000, +33 (0)5 56 48 03 44.
Discover more about Bordeaux wines with this article on 10 Best Wine Bars in Bordeaux, or perhaps you are interested about the local food and best restaurants, or maybe you’d like to get lost in the history of wine-making at Best Chateaux in Bordeaux.