Things to do in Bordeaux
If this is your first time visiting Bordeaux, you will certainly want to know all its secrets and beautiful places. There are so many attractions here that the sooner you start, the more you can get out of your days.
There are many things to do in this wonderful French city that can adapt perfectly to all tastes and plans. Therefore, having an itinerary of activities will always be the best option and here are some suggestions.
In this guide we will show you some of the things to do in Bordeaux.
What to see in Bordeaux
Every time you come here you will always find new things to see in Bordeaux. However, among the must-sees that you can not miss for any reason, especially if it is your first time, we highlight the following:
City of wine
Wine lover? This is the right place to start your adventure in Bordeaux. The City of Wine is a wonderful interactive museum opened in 2018. It is considered one of the most visited in Europe. It is estimated that since that date, at least 1.5 million people have passed through here.
This place pays tribute to the wine industry, from its origins to the present day. It does so through interactive exhibitions, talks, videoconferences and, of course, wine tastings.
Everything here comes together to offer a multi-sensory experience for all ages. Its original construction imitates the movement that wine makes when it enters the glass during decanting.
The Great Bell of Bordeaux
The Great Bell of Bordeaux, or Grosse Cloche in French, is another of the first things to visit in Bordeaux. It is one of the oldest monuments in the whole city and here are the remains of the old medieval wall. It is located in the heart of the city.
Since the 13th century, its sound has marked the most important moments of the city, Today it is only rung on the first Sunday of each month and on national holidays.
To date, the bell has been replaced at least six times, the last one being installed in 1775 by Jean-Jacques Turmel. It weighs approximately 7,750 kilograms.
The Great Bell also functioned as a prison. In fact, some of the cells are still preserved. In 1886, it was declared a Historic Monument and is one of the most photographed sites in Bordeaux.
Like most European cities in history, Bordeaux was fortified for a long time during the Middle Ages. It had an extensive wall and numerous gates that gave controlled access to those who wished to visit.
The Cailhau Gate is located on the banks of the river, between the Burgundy Gate and the Place de la Bourse. It was built in 1496, with an architecture as beautiful as it is imposing, as it is more than 35 meters high.
Its construction paid tribute to the victory of Charles VII in the famous battle of Fornovo. On its sides, it is still possible to find some remains of the connection between the Cailhau Gate and the old wall.
Also known as the Cathedral of St. Andrew, is located just in front of the City Hall of Bordeaux, in the heart of the city. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998.
It was built between the 12th and 16th centuries. It stands out for its beautiful Gothic style, very typical of the buildings of the time. The bell tower (the Pey Berland Tower) is located in a separate building. This is a marshy area and the aim was to offer greater stability to the project, in view of the weight of the bells.
The Water Mirror and the Palace de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Palace)
Of the most famous images in all of Bordeaux, the Water Mirror undoubtedly stands out among the rest. This is an obligatory stop for locals and visitors alike. It was built in 2006, as part of a series of reforms and modernizations that sought to open the city to tourism, and boy, did they succeed.
The water mirror has an extension of 3,450 m2, making it the largest in the world.
It is located between the Place de la Bourse and the Garonne River, surrounded by numerous buildings of great historical importance. It is equipped with a series of jets or water jets on the floor. Every few moments they release the liquid, causing it to fill just a few millimeters, creating a beautiful mirror.
This is one of the most popular places in the city. Regardless of the time of day or time of year, you will see hundreds of people walking through it and especially children playing with the jets.
Developed in La Bastide, in front of the Place de la Bourse or Place de la Bourse, it has more than half a hectare of extension. It is such a peaceful space full of natural beauty that it is a favorite for locals to relax while enjoying the views.
This was not its initial location. In fact, it has been moved at least four times as Bordeaux grew. Since 1997 it has been in its current location. It is divided into six parts: The cultivation field, a beautiful gallery, the water garden, an arboretum and the famous greenhouses with more than 750 m2.
Quinconces Square and the Girondins Monument
Bordeaux is full of squares, some more famous than others. One of them is Quinconces Square, also known as the Esplanade des Quinconces.
It covers an area of 12 hectares and is considered to be the largest square in Europe located in the heart of a city. During six months of the year, it gives half of its space for the realization of cultural events of different types.
It was built in the 19th century, on the site of the former Château Trompette, which was demolished in 1818. Its name is due to the tree-lined alleys that surround it, which in ancient times, are repeated in groups of five.
In this square is the Monument to the Girondins, a beautiful and imposing fountain built in 1901. It was erected in memory of the inhabitants of the province of Gironde, who appeared during the French Revolution.
St. Catherine Street
It has an extension of more than three kilometers, being one of the most popular and busiest of the whole city, although it is only for pedestrian use. It is located between the Plaza de la Comedia and the Plaza de La Victoria.
It is developed on an ancient Roman road thousands of years old, and has been in commercial use since the 19th century.
This is where most of the butcher shops and food stores of the time were located, although over time it changed. Today you can find clothing, handicraft, antique and souvenir stores, as well as an extensive and varied gastronomic offer.
Bordeaux is a city with many beautiful bridges, some with more charm than others. Known in French as Pont de Pierre, the Stone Bridge is the oldest. Its origin dates back to the early 19th century.
Its construction was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon I. During his wartime crossing to Spain, he noticed how the army was delayed by having to cross the Garonne River on a ferry. The French architect Claude Deschamps was in charge of the project.
It was built in 1822, although it was opened to the public a year later. It was extended in 1954, being in total 486 meters long. Since 2018, only pedestrians are allowed to walk on the construction.
Grand Théâtre and Place de la Comédie
The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is one of the most precious architectural jewels of the whole city. It was built in 1780, after several years of work by the architect Victor Louis.
The work is entirely developed in a neoclassical style. It has 12 columns and 12 statues, of which nine are the muses and the three Greek goddesses: Juno, Venus and Minerva. It is so important that it was declared a French Historical Monument.
The Place de la Comédie is just in front, a place for pedestrians only, except for the tramway that crosses it. It was built on the site of the old theater of the city, destroyed in 1756 by fire.
What else to do in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a city of contrasts and hundreds of activities to do, suitable for all tastes. Whether you come for romantic, adventure or cultural purposes, there will always be options.
Here are some suggestions if you don’t know what else to do in Bordeaux.
Visit a winery
As we have already mentioned, Bordeaux is located in one of the most important wine producing regions in the world. In the surroundings of the city there are many wineries that you can visit and, of course, enjoy a glass.
In fact, many of the winemaking houses in the surrounding area enjoy great recognition and antiquity. Some have hundreds of years of history and tradition.
Saint-Émilion is part of one of the most important wine routes in Bordeaux. This is a small but beautiful town of medieval origin. You will think you have traveled back in time, because of its narrow streets and its charming stone buildings.
In fact, Saint-Émilion was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, around 900 winegrowers are concentrated here.
Stroll along the Garonne River
The Garonne River is the main tributary of the city, in addition to being an important source on an economic level. In addition, it can be a wonderful plan to get to know Bordeaux from another point of view: from the water.
A boat ride lasts about an hour and a half. It will take you to enjoy the main tourist attractions of the city, such as the Cité du Vin, the bridges or the Place de la Bourse, just to mention a few.
They are available all year round. As a recommendation we can say that the best time to do it is the sunset. You will see how little by little the sun goes down and the city starts to light up.
Dinner at the Place du Parlement
The Place du Parlement is located in the heart of the city, surrounded by a wide variety of restaurants, bars and cafes. If you want to enjoy traditional gastronomy, this is definitely the place.
It is especially recommended for dinner, surrounded by the most important historical buildings illuminated. Undoubtedly, they bring an extra share of romanticism and magic. If you come as a couple, this should be a mandatory stop.
Getting to know Bordeaux through a free tour
As you have seen, Bordeaux is full of magic, beauty and charm everywhere you look, without neglecting its historical importance. No matter how many times you come, it is always worth it.
To get to know any place, the ideal is to meet with the locals. They can tell you about the secrets and curiosities that nobody knows, so taking a free tour will give you this possibility. Free Walking Tours Bordeaux have all type of free tours and private tours for you to choose from.
Guided by Bordeaux citizens, they will tell you the details of each of the most interesting places. In addition, they adapt to any type of trip, and best of all, they are free.
Check out the Free Tours of Free Walking Tours Bordeaux!