Bordeaux is famous for the region’s prized wines, however, the city itself has a lot to offer. Less than 2.5 hours by high speed train from Paris, it’s never been easier to get away for a weekend break to the elegant capital of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. What to do if you have two days in the city? Wander its picturesque streets, sample delicious bordelaise cuisine and discovering local hangouts. This itinerary is your guide for what to do and where to go when you have 48 hours to spend in Bordeaux.
Spend your first day exploring Bordeaux’s historic center. Wander the narrow streets of the Saint-Michel district, popular with locals. The area’s namesake, the gothic Saint-Michel church, dominates the Place Meynard where you’ll find a weekly market on Saturday mornings. After browsing its colorful stands, move towards la Grosse Cloche, once a gate of Bordeaux’s medieval walls. It leads to la rue Saint James, where you can find cool boutiques, grab a cup of coffee at Books and Coffee, made with beans roasted in-house, or stop in at Cassonade for a canelé, Bordeaux’s iconic pastry.
Rue Saint James ends at the pretty Place Fernand Lafargue, bordered by cafés, shops and Glacier Fernand, an artisanal ice-cream shop. Afterwards, make your way to la Porte Cailhau, another medieval gate whose whimsical tower boasts gorgeous views over the city. If you’re ready for lunch, nearby is Les Recoltants, an eco-responsible cantine using ingredients from their farm or local suppliers no further than 20 kilometers away.
In the afternoon track down some of Bordeaux’s grander sites. You’ll inevitably come across Rue Sainte-Catherine, Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping street. Le Grand Théâtre, the city’s neoclassical opera house is a must-see. Also impressive is la Place des Quinconces, a regal square home to the majestic Monument aux Girondins. You can either end your stroll around the refined Jardin Public park or at the Place de la Bourse and its Miroir d’Eau, the world’s largest reflecting pool, an unmissable photo op in Bordeaux.
There are many options for your Saturday night in Bordeaux. Sample Bordeaux wines and cuisine at Au Bon JaJa, a wine bar serving unique local wines including natural and organic labels. Le Point Rouge has inventive wine cocktails and dishes inspired by wine. For Bordeaux’s best bistronomique cuisine try La Gigi, known for its gastronomic street food and creative cocktails. Symbiose, is a speakeasy-style venue also with its own garden. To try modern Bordeaux cuisine, book a table at Modjo, which has a chic minimalist decor and vegetarian options. End your night with inventive cocktails and dancing at CanCan, a hidden bar found behind a telephone booth.
Get your second day in Bordeaux off to a tasty start at one of the city’s top modern brunch spots, such as Contrast or Sauvages. Fueled up, make your way to the charming Chartrons district. Akin to Paris’s Marais, Chartrons’s ancient streets are lined with local designers, art galleries and antique shops. If you didn’t already have brunch, you can grab a meal at the area’s Place du Marché des Chartrons, packed with cafés including La Vie en Rose, a tea salon serving brunch, great quiches and exquisite cakes.
Alternatively, a short walk will take you to the Marché du Quais, a vibrant outdoor market along the Garonne River. Here you can pick up some regional food products for a picnic or lunch on fresh oysters from the nearby Bay of Arcachon. You can enjoy your picnic along the water’s edge, preferably across the river in the relaxed Parc aux Angéliques, a nice place to also stroll and take in beautiful views. This side of the river is more local and is home to Darwin, an eco-district located within a former military barracks. Here you can hang out with the hip bordelais over a craft beer or café crème with oat milk at their social tables. Don’t leave without browsing its sustainable shops and taking a look at its street art section.
Wine lovers might want to spend the afternoon at La Cité du Vin, a wine museum and education center found within a sleek modern building not far from the Chartrons neighborhood. It’s a wonderful place to immerse oneself in the region’s wine heritage without even having to leave the city!
Where to Stay
Bordeaux has a wide range of great accommodation, from hip budget hotels to chic retreats. The city’s outpost of Mamma Shelter has rooms to suit all budgets as well as a fabulous rooftop bar. If you’re looking for a little pampering, consider Hotel de Sèze, a central four-star boutique hotel with a spa. For stylish design, you can’t go wrong with Yndō, a five-star hotel within a 19th-century mansion. Or if you’re seeking home away from home, try L’Hotel Particulier, a cozy former private mansion with a charming courtyard and apartment rooms named after Bordeaux wine appellations.
Books and Coffee, 26 rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux
Cassonade, 53 rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux
Glacier Fernand, 15 pl. Fernand Lafargue, 33000 Bordeaux
Les Récoltants, 18 rue Sainte Colombe 33000 Bordeaux
La Gigi, 32 rue des Allamandiers, 33800 Bordeaux
Symbiose, 4 quai des Chartrons, 33000 Bordeaux
Modjo, 5 rue des Herbes, 33000 Bordeaux
CanCan, 7 rue du Cerf Volant, 33000 Bordeaux
Contrast, 16 cr du Chapeau-Rouge, 33000 Bordeaux
Sauvages, 49 cr de la Martinique, 33000 Bordeaux
La Vie en Rose 8 rue Sicard, Pl. du Marché Chartrons, 33000 Bordeaux
Darwin, 87 quai des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
La Cité du Vin, 134 quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
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