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bordeaux, bordeaux wine trip, places to visit in France

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the largest cities in France, located in the Southwest of France on the Garonne river. It is mainly known for its quality wines and represents the world’s major wine industry capital. Also, the old town and the historic district of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, thanks to its well preserved historical monuments and the 18th century style.

WHAT TO SEE

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripIn Bordeaux you can find one of the largest squares of all Europe, Place des Quinconces, located at the very center of the town: columns and marble statues are allegories of triumph, navigation and commerce, recalling the majesty of old times. Close to this square, you will find Place de la Bourse, a very particular square which hosts the famous Water Mirror, the world’s largest reflecting pool which, especially in summer, creates amazing water shows.  One of the main sights in town is, without a doubt, the romantic Pont de Pierre, a bridge with seventeen arches which links the two sides of the Garonne river: there, you can have a relaxing walk with your partner and enjoy the beautiful river, maybe when the sun slowly fades away.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripThere are several districts in Bordeaux: Saint-Michel, the cosmopolitan district, with restaurants and markets from all over the world; the elegant and luxurious Les Grands Hommes. However, the most typical district is certainly Saint Pierre, the old town: situated close to the port, it has unique monuments and sights with amazing architectural styles. There, you can find Place du Parlement, Porte Cailhau, with its unique old silhouette, along with the aforementioned Pont de Pierre and Water Mirror.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripOn the left bank quays of the river, you can enjoy one of the most magnificent waterfronts in the world, while passing close to many historic buildings: you can relax in one of the parks or do some shopping, it’s up to you! On the other side of the Garonne, don’t miss the Jardin Botanique de la Bastide, a botanical garden with an arboretum, fields of grain, vines, dunes and cliffs.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripClose to St. Pierre, you can visit the charming Chartrons district: centred around the Church of St. Louis, it has a unique village-like atmosphere, with small bars, restaurants and bistros where you can relax. There, you can the CAPC, that is, the Museum of Contemporary Art, a former warehouse for colonial goods which today houses avant-garde, visual and performance art exhibitions, trying to include different themes and different styles. The Chartrons district, historic heart of the wine trade, is the perfect place to drink some glasses of wine and literally ‘taste’ the reason why Bordeaux is worldwide known for its wine industry. You can taste wine everywhere in the city, but probably you can get the best experience at the CUV (Cave Utile en Ville) an independent wine retailer, at the CIVB or at the City of Wine.

cité du vin, city of wine, bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripIndeed, close to Chartrons, you will find the Cité du Vin – which means, th City of Wine – an impressive cultural centre dedicated to the living heritage of wine. Within the building, you can join a particular journey, in order to see the different ages and civilisations linked to the wine industry. The unique architecture of this 10-level building will turn the visit into a breathtaking experience, which may end with a panoramic view over the city from the restaurant LE7, on the top of the building. Also, you can visit the Museum of Wine and Trade, where you can learn the classifications of wine, the history and the trade system, or the huge Museum of Fine Arts, with masterpieces by Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dyck, Delacroix, Renoir, Matisse and Picasso.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripIf you are interested in religious monuments, you cannot miss the Saint André Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop, with its Roman architecture and house of the Marcadé collection (paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects). Next to the cathedral you will find the impressive Pey Berland Tower and its gothic style; not far from there, you can finally reach the Basilica of Saint Michel, a gothic church with the amazing representation of Saint Michael slaying the dragon.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION & TIPS

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripYou should definitely try local products! A glass of Lillet to start your meal, oysters from Arcachon Bay, a spicy sausage called grenier médocain, some ‘pibales’, that is, the so-called ‘caviar of Aquitaine’, along with delicious golden cannelés, traditional pastries flavoured with rum and vanilla. And remember, when you want some ‘pain au chocolat’, you have to ask for a ‘chocolatine’!

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripThere are several places where you can eat and taste good wine: bistros in the old city with seasonal ingredients and cosy atmosphere (haute cuisine but reasonable prices); upscale restaurants and wine bars (the famous panoramic restaurant LE7 on the top of the Cité du Vin or the restaurant of Pierre Gagnaire); if you want to eat à la française, the most famous restaurant  is La Tupina, situated in the so-called ‘Rue Gourmande’ (in the old district between ‘saint-Michel’ and ‘sainte-croix’), along with Le Bistro du sommelier and Le Bouchon Bordelais. The best terraces to enjoy the view of the city are LE 7 restaurant, Quai des Marques and Place du Parlement

Last but not least, on Sundays, you will find amazing and crowded markets, such as the Capuchins Market and the flea market at the Quai de Salinières!

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Médoc

The Dune of Pilat

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

old town, bordeaux wine trip

Bordeaux Old Town

In the Bordeaux Old Town district – called Saint Pierre – you will find a unique atmosphere: it is the place where the inhabitants used to gather and where all the ships used to arrive, together with their merchandise.

old town, bordeaux wine tripsFacing the Garonne river and the port, the Bordeaux Old Town is full of important historic buildings, along with museums and beautiful sights. First of all, there, you can find the iconic Place de la Bourse, with the most famous sight of Bordeaux, the Water Mirror. This 3,450-square metre reflecting pool was built in 2006: it is made of granite and it is covered by 2 cm of water.

old town, bordeaux wine tripIn the Bordeaux Old Town, you can visit the magnificent Cathedral: it is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Andrew, where you can still see an old Roman wall in the nave, along with the beautiful Marcadé Collection, a series of paintings, sculptures, objects and liturgical vestments. It was consecrated by Pope urban II and today it is the seat of the archbishop. Some architectural elements are worth a visit: the Door of Arrows, the Gargoyles, the North Rose Window and the Choir. Outside the impressive church, you will also find the gothic Tower Pey-Berland, a quadrangular building which used to protect the cathedral from the vibration of the bells.

old town, bordeaux wine tripIn the Bordeaux Old Town, you cannot miss the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the largest art galleries outside Paris. The collections focus on French and Dutch painters and consist of paintings, sculptures and drawings. There, you can enjoy some of the best pieces of art by Tiziano, Delacroix, Seurat, Rubens, Matisse and Picasso.

However, do not forget to have a break and relax! In Saint Pierre, you can eat in one of the small bars, restaurants and bistros spread around the district and, above all, you can enjoy the cosy and warm atmosphere of the ‘real’ Bordeaux!

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Saint-Emilion

Médoc

Bordeaux

city of wine, cité du vin, bordeaux wine trip

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

The City of Wine in Bordeaux, located on the left bank of the Garonne river, is a museum and exhibition centre on the theme of wine, wine industry and wine culture.

city of wine, cité du vin, bordeaux wine tripOpened in 2016, the City of Wine in Bordeaux represents a cultural and touristic centre entirely dedicated to wine: this building, half a museum and half a theme park, wants to defend and spread the cultural heritage and value of wine.  You can easily reach the building by foot or by tramway (line B) and enjoy all the caves, the ateliers and the exhibitions within the City. Located in the district of Bassin à Flot, where the forges of the port were situated, it has been built with an impressive ‘round’ architecture, which makes the building something unique and iconic. The silhouette looks like a vine stock, to recall both the swirl of the Garonne and the wine which is poured inside the glass. Panels of aluminium and glass cover the entire façade until the top of the tower (55 metres).

city of wine, cité du vin, bordeaux wine tripIn the City of Wine, you can visit a library-cellar with more than 9,000 bottles from 88 countries (you can taste some of these wines in specific areas); then, you can enjoy some ateliers and visit temporary exhibitions. Once you reach the second floor, you can visit the permanent exhibition: a journey across the ages and the places of wine, which will teach the history and the culture of wine. On the top of the building, you can enjoy the panoramic restaurant Le 7 and a breathtaking view from the Belvedere, one of the highest points in town.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

OPENING HOURS: Everyday, from 9:30 AM to 7 PM

PRICE: €20 (Permanent Exhibition, Guide, Tasting of wines in Belvedere)

TRANSPORTS: Tramway Line B

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Saint-Emilion

Bordeaux Old Town

The Dune of Pilat

dune of pilat, bordeaux wine trip

The Dune of Pilat

The Dune of Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe: it is situated in the Arcanchon Bay, 60 kilometres from Bordeaux.

dune of pilat, bordeaux wine tripThe Dune of Pilat is approximately 110 metres above the Ocean level and has more than 1 million visitors every year! It runs along the shoreline and it is surrounded by forests. The Dune offers a unique and breathtaking view over the sea and, according to scientists, it is still moving, from 1 to 5 metres inland every year!

You can climb the dune of ‘Pilat’ – word which stands for ‘heap’, ‘mound’-  and descend through the stairway, rolling or slowly walking down the hill, it’s up to you! The Dune will bring you back to your childhood, when you could recklessly run along the beach or down the hill, and the desert-like exotic setting will astonish you.

You can easily reach the Dune by train, from Bordeaux to Arcanchon, and from Arcanchon you can take a bus. The entrance is free and there are several campsites and restaurants around the area, if you want to spend more time there! So, what are you waiting for?

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

Médoc

Bordeaux

saint emilion, bordeaux wine trip

Saint-Emilion

The Saint Emilion wine route is one of most renowned routes of the area, both for the wines you can find along the way and for the amazing medieval village of Saint Emilion (only 35 minutes from Bordeaux).

saint emilion, bordeaux wine tripSituated in a hilltop position, Saint-Emilion dominates the Dordogne Valley: its landscape, which consists of the village and the vineyards, has been awarded the title ‘Cultural Landscape’ by UNESCO – first vineyard in the world! The whole area seems to be intact, as it was centuries ago, for this reason, it is a perfect starting point for a wine tour. There, you can have a tour around the village, in cellars and through vineyards; you can taste different wines in different places and enjoy the views. In the small village, you can find the largest monolithic church in Europe, ancient buildings, caves and a great number of historic monuments which represent the heritage of the heart of the wine growing region.  The legend says that the village was founded by a monk from Brittany who sought refuge in a cave and made several miracles. In the small village, you can take a look at the Trinity Chapel, the Monastery (near to the cave where the monk was buried) and the Grande Muraille.

st chatThe wines of the region are blended from different grape varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) and the classification consists of the following levels: Premier Grand Cru classé A, Premier Grand Cru classé B and Grand Cru classé. Today, there are 4 estates at the highest level: Chateau Angelus, Chateau Ausone, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Pavie

The vineyards date back to Roman age and the region is one of the principal red wine areas of Bordeaux with Médoc, Graves and Pomerol.  Pomerol is a smaller area but has the same Roman history and roots. There, the main variety of grape is Merlot.

In these two areas, you can taste different varieties of wine, you can visit renowned chateaux, estates and enjoy beautiful views and breathtaking landscapes.  Last but not least, in order to experience the whole area, you can visit the vineyards by bike, around a 10-km vineyard loop that you will never forget!

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Graves and Sauternes

Médoc

Bordeaux

 

 

saint-emilion, bordeaux wine trip,

Médoc

In the Northern part of the Bordeaux area, you can enjoy the Castle Route, from Bordeaux up and along the Médoc region. There, you can find 8 of the most important appellations, along with vast manmade forests (built to protect the vines) and magnificent chateaux.

médoc, bordeaux wine tripThe Médoc countryside offers beautiful landscapes, valleys and wetlands, along with sandy beaches which run along the Atlantic coast. In the Médoc area you can find 8 AOC wines (controlled designation of origin) and the best chateaux of the Bordeaux region. The main grape varieties are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (along with Malbec and Petit Verdot) and you can find both independent wineries and winemaking cooperatives. Due to the proximity of the Atlantic ocean, the area might be unsuitable of wine making; however, the variation and the particular soil better suit for varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the heart of the region you can find the famous 86-km long D2 wine route (also called ‘the Castle Route’), which passes by all the main chateaux and wine names, such as Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Juline and Moulis.

Most of the chateaux welcome visitors, but it is always better to book in advance! You can also visit some artistic exhibitions, like the one in the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac (the famous chateau with the world’s most expensive wine), with medieval tapestries and porcelain from China and Japan, or the modern art collection in Chateau Chasse-Spleen.

medoc, bordeaux wine trip

Château Margaux (Margaux)

Thanks to the Great Growth Classification (Classement des Grands Crus Classés) made by Napoleon in 1855 the most prestigious wines are classified by 5 categories (from 1st to 5th Growths). Five Médoc  Appelations are considered as Premier Grand Cru in the classification. The Médoc is home to 8 AOC: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Moulis-en-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Sainte-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux. The latter, a wine growing commune centred on the village of Margaux, houses an impressive and magnificent chateau. Besides, you can visit 21 other important chateaux in the area.

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Saint-Emilion

Graves and Sauternes

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

graves sauternes, bordeaux wine trip

Graves and Sauternes

Graves and Sauternes wine region is larger than Médoc but it produces half of the amount of wine. The soil is perfect for grape growing and the trades of wine with England dates back since the XII century.

saut3While the Médoc was the source of all red wines, the Sauternes is the one of white wines:  the most famous among the varieties is, without a doubt, the sweet wine from Chateau Yquem. In this region you can find any different kind of wine: red wines (made with Merlot, Cabernet, Malbec) or dry white wines (Sauternes, Sauvignon, Muscatelle).

There, you can visit several chateaux: first, Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte, with where you can take a look at the barrels and visit the contemporary art collection; then, you can reach Chateau de Cazeneuve and Chateau La Brede, where Montesquieu was born. Wi
thin the area, you cannot miss neither the five-star palace Les Sources de Caudalie, with its spa, its luxury restaurant and several wine bars,  nor the Cathedral of St. Jean Baptiste.

In order to have the best wine experience, you can visit the famous Chateau Haut-Bailly, renowned for its fine wines and the seasonal cuisine, along with the Chateau Filhot, famous for the AOC Sauternes wines.

 

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Médoc

Saint-Emilion

Bordeaux Old Town