24 Hours in Bordeaux
I don’t get much time alone, which is why most of my knowledge of the area comes with ‘kid friendly’ suggestions. Here is the best of Bordeaux in 24 hours…alone (or with your love).
If you can avoid, at all costs, driving into Bordeaux, you will save yourself a few grey hairs. The city is one of the most anti-car places I have ever driven. If you must, please park the first parking place you find, make sure you pay parking if necessary and just get out and walk. There is no metro, only buses and trams, which is why driving is so hectic. They are constantly adding lines and doing construction, so your GPS is often useless. I’ve had a bollard come up under my car in Bordeaux while following Waze. It’s just not worth it. If you arrive by train to the Gare Saint-Jean train station, take a tram C straight to the Place de la Bourse (15 minutes) and walk from there into the historic center of town.
Many of my friends choose to take AirBnB for their times in Bordeaux (and have had good experiences); I prefer hotels. When I have 24 hours to myself, the last thing I want to do is worry about how clean a place will be or having to make my own coffee. There are plenty of well priced chain hotels in and near the center; I stayed at the Quality Hotel Bordeaux Center. No frills, clean and well located with toiletries. It was also well priced and under 100 Euro for a Saturday night, though I only had a single bed.
The first Sunday of the month, all museums are free. The Musee d’Aquitaine is my favorite, following the first settlements in the area until after WWII. It was fascinating, beautiful and at times grotesquely interesting. Bordeaux and Frances history with slavery is intense. Give yourself at least an hour to walk around and take in the relics.
While the Cite du Vin is the world’s largest (and probably most intensive) wine museum, it’s not the only one in town. If you are in Bordeaux and want Bordelaise history, check out the Musee de Vin et du Negoce de Bordeaux. It is only about the local trade history and has some really interesting points and very helpful guides, along with a tasting of local wines at the end. They also sell a really essential wine book, in English, called The Bordeaux Wine Guide which has everything you would ever need to know.
Simply wandering around Bordeaux is such a calming experience after running around with two small children all day! Walking along the Garonne River at night and viewing the mirror fountain in front of the Bourse, or taking the river in on Sunday morning when there is the local market and tasting some fresh oysters from nearby Arcachon. Then there is the shopping on Rue Saint Catherine, which is even partly open on Sunday*.
Of course, no visit would be complete without amazing meals. If you happen to be in the area (little off tourist path) and are not put off by crowds, try having lunch at the Bordeaux Marche du Capucins. It has a little taste of anything and everything and will be filled with tourists and locals alike. If you would prefer a sit down meal, with reservation, there are also plenty of places to choose from – most with Sunday lunch available. Some of my favorites are Miles (fellow Ferrandi culinary school graduates), Solena, and C’Yusha. They’re run well, clean and the food is always creative, beautifully plated and delicious for under 25 euro at lunch during the week. Can’t go wrong.
Granted 24 hours isn’t that long, but if you’re able to fit all of the above in I think you’ll discover you simply need to come back for more!
Musee d’Aquitaine – http://www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/enMusee d’Aquitaine – excellent museum with detailed descriptions and original artifacts on the history of the region over thousands of years…and a nice little shop – 20 Cours Pasteur – Parking nearby or take Tram B to Musee d’Aquitaine – open Tuesday thru Sunday, from 11am – 6pm (closed bank holidays) – Phone +33 (0)5 56 01 51 00 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Musee du Vin et du Negoce – http://www.museeduvinbordeaux.com/ – Small and intimate museum with nice collection of local relics related to the wine trade, located in old wine tradesmans home – 41 Rue de Borie – Tram B Chartrons or Tram C Camille Godard – open daily, holidays included (save Christmas and New Years Day) 10am – 6pm – Phone +33 (0)5 56 90 19 13 or email email@example.com
Jean d’Alos Fromager – http://www.fromages-jean-dalos.com/– friendly shop keepers and some luxurious cheeses (like truffled tomme) that you’ll have to eat to avoid stinking up your hotel room! – 4 Rue Montesquieu – Tram B Gambetta – Open Tuesday thru Wednesday 9am – 1pm and 3pm – 730pm, Thursday thru Saturday 9am – 8pm – Phone +33 (0)5 56 44 29 66 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mollat – https://www.mollat.com/ – largest, privately owned bookstore in the world with a decent foreign section and cookbook section. Buy an adorable ‘Macaron et Canele’ book for your child to remember their trip to Bordeaux – 15 Rue Vital-Carles – Tram B Gabetta Madd – open Monday thru Saturday 930am – 730pm and first Sunday of month from 2pm – 6pm – Phone +33 (0)5 56 56 40 40 or email through website
Great article with more ideas for your shopping by The Telegraph
Quality Hotel Bordeaux Center – http://www.qualityhotelbordeauxcentre.com/ – Clean, friendly, secure and well located hotel to rest your head after a long day out and about in Bordeaux – Prices starting around 90 euro off season for a single – 27 Rue du Parlament Saint Catherine – Phone +33 (0)5 56 81 95 12 or email email@example.com
Miles – http://en.restaurantmiles.com/ – small, contemporary dinning, open kitchen with bar style seating to watch chefs, relaxed atmosphere, with fresh and seasonal produce. Excellent lunch menu for 24 euro – 33 Rue du Cancera – Tram A Place du Palace – open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and Saturday for dinner – Phone +33 (0)5 56 81 18 24 or email firstname.lastname@example.org but you can book through their website
Solena – http://www.solena-restaurant.com/ – located a little off the main tourist area, the friendly staff serving beautiful plates and creative amuse buches and mignardices (the chocolate truffle in december was ridiculous). Great value at 24 euro for lunch during the week – 5 Rue Chaffour – open Wednesday dinner and Thursday – Sunday for lunch and dinner – Phone +33 (0)5 57 53 28 06 or email email@example.com but you can also book through their website
C’Yusha – http://www.cyusha.com/ – cave like dinning room where fun and creative dishes, with familiar ingredients presented in often unique ways are served up. Another amazing lunch at – Tuesday – Thursday for lunch and Tuesday – Saturday for dinner – 12 Rue Ausone – Phone +33 (0)5 56 69 89 70 or reserve through website
*Quick tip – there is a Starbucks on Rue Saint Catherine…but no toilet! I usually use Starbucks as my emergency in France, alas not this one. Check around the shopping plaza near the Starbucks and you will find public toilets.