Our Bordeaux Bucket List
We’re so excited to travel to beautiful Bordeaux, France in our Summer TROVE adventure! This city is filled to the brim with culture, unique experiences and delectable food and wine. If you seek fantastic food and a rich experience in the French “art de vivre” (art of living), Bordeaux is at the top of the list. It’s the perfect place to discover picturesque villages, cycle through vineyards, and discovery legendary Châteaux wines like Saint-Émilion.
Emilie was married in her hometown in France and prior to her wedding, her and her now-husband Louis went to Bordeaux to get some of the best wines for the wedding feast. This city holds a special memory and place in our hearts for that reason.
Having been to Bordeaux many times, there really is no shortage of unique experiences to check off your bucket list. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy our list of 10 can’t-miss experiences in Bordeaux! If you need personal recommendations, feel free to email us as well.
1. Bike around Bordeaux
In 2002, Bordeaux was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and went through some major transformations, including investing in a network of bicycle paths. Greater Bordeaux has more than 400 miles of bicycle paths (amazing, right?) and is one of the top green cities in France. Explore the city by bike as you pedal between the Place de la Bourse, the 11th-century Bordeaux Cathedral and the impressive wine museum, Cité du Vin. The city has plenty of fabulous restaurants and wine bars as well that we would recommend pausing at to whet your appetite for the surrounding vineyards.
2. Reflect with Le Miroir d’eau (Water Mirror)
Constructed in 2006, the Miroir d’Eau is a relatively new landmark in Bordeaux but is already one of the city’s main attractions. The gorgeous reflective pool is the world’s largest and was constructed in front of the Place de la Bourse, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 1700s. The impressive 18th century French architecture is immaculately reflected in the mirrored pool extending beyond the building. During the day, visitors can splash their way through the pool to cool off, but at night, the area transforms into a romantic spot to sight-see with your sweetie. The best time to enjoy and see the beauty is during the blue hour, when the sun is setting and the reflection of the sunset comes to play in the water. It's stunning!
3. Expand your wine knowledge at Musée du Vin et du Négoce
A visit to France is incomplete without enjoying and learning about the country’s prominent wine industry. Take some time to explore the country’s distinguished wine history in the international Musée du Vin et du Négoce (Wine and Trade Museum). The museum includes nearly three centuries worth of Bordeaux wine history, including dozens of artifacts, unique wine bottles and ancient hand-crafted oak barrels. And the best part? Museum-goers will end their tour with a tasting from a small, local winemaker. That’s what we like to hear!
4. Hear the chimes of the Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux
Port Cailhau has been impressing visitors to Bordeaux for over 500 years. Once the city’s main gate, it has been almost unaltered from the time it was built and became part of Bordeaux’s fortifications in 1494. Now one of the most photographed places to visit in Bordeaux, you can see the Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux (which translates to “Big Bell”) up close by climbing the tower.
The gorgeous bell was cast in 1775 and rings only to celebrate special occasions, such as Bastille Day (a national French holiday representing the end of a harsh monarchy and the beginning of the French Revolution) and VE Day (a celebration of Germany’s surrender in WWII). Time your visit right, and you might catch its monthly chime mid-day on the first Sunday of every month.
On a tour of the building, you’ll learn about the monument’s history and even see the area that was once used as a prison for mischievous youth around the city. (Bonus fun fact: the bell tower is so iconic that it’s outline is featured on Bordeaux’s coat of arms!)
5. Marvel at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
Towering columns and intricate sculptures characterize the beautiful Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux that sits on the edge of Place de la Comédie, an open square and gathering place in the heart of the city. The area in front of the building is the perfect place to watch a sunset at the end of the day, because the adjacent streets extend down as a far as the eye can see with other gorgeous buildings on the skyline.
6. Peaceful Picnic in the Jardin Public
The city’s public garden is the perfect spot to take a relaxing walk about gorgeous greenery. The area is also home to an arboretum, a lake, a library and the Museum of Natural History. Take an afternoon stroll or a lunch break from the bustle of the city with a blanket and a packed lunch. We love grabbing a bottle of wine from a nearby shop and some sandwiches at a local boulangerie (bakery).
7. Marché des Capucins Bordeaux - Europe's Best Destinations
Work up an appetite before you visit Bordeaux’s largest market, Marché des Capucins. Also known as “the belly of Bordeaux”, this is one of the best places to visit in Bordeaux for all kinds of delicious local foods, drinks and restaurants. There’s something for everyone, including cheese, wine, oysters, fruits, vegetables, and this is a great place to pick up souvenirs for friends and family back at home.
When in Bordeaux, you have to try canelés, tiny pastries made with rum and vanilla. We think the best in the city come from La Toque Cuivrée.
8. Visit La Cité du Vin
You could get lost for hours in Bordeaux’s newest iconic attraction, La Cité du Vin. Built in 2016, the amazing structure is home to permanent and rotating exhibitions about the history and art of wine culture. Once you’ve explored the nearly 20 themed areas in the interactive exhibit, grab a glass of wine on the eighth floor. The room is called The Belvedere and offers tons of wine options (and grape juice for the kids!) with floor-to-ceiling windows giving you an incredible 360-degree view of the city below. If you can’t wait to check this out in person, La Cité du Vin is offering a virtual visit from home!
Right below, on the seventh floor, is home to Le 7 Restaurant. Their regional menu changes seasonally, which means you’re guaranteed to enjoy whatever is most fresh during your visit! Plus, you’ll enjoy more panoramic views of the city while you enjoy your meal and sip on one of the 500 available wines they have.
9. Enjoy the region’s best wineries
Bordeaux is home to the finest wines in the world, which means that it also lays claim to some of the world’s most beautiful wineries.
Château Saint-Espirit is one of the most picturesque spots around. The property has plenty of guest rooms, a stone cottage and even an entire bastide (a small country house) with a pool to stay in while on property. We might be slightly biased because wine from Château Saint-Espirit was served at Emilie and Louis’ wedding, but the tasting session is to die for!
Château d’Agassac similarly offers delicious tasting opportunities, but this estate also boasts a fairy-tale castle to explore with guided tours and experiences. They also offer themed tasting sessions (with chocolates or tapas!) and an interactive mobile game for the kiddos AND adults to explore the property and the castle.
And just outside Bordeaux sits Château Guiraud, a gorgeous property filled with vast gardens, incredible cellars and, of course, delicious wines. Upon arrival, tasters will enter along a long road lined with around 180 tall plane trees and will then have the chance to learn about the wineries sustainable growing practices, explore the buildings and experience fine dining opportunities.
10. Explore beyond Bordeaux
We LOVE this adorable, picturesque village and think this is a MUST-visit on a trip to Bordeaux. The town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a 30-minute train ride or a 45-minute drive from Bordeaux and a great place to learn all about the region’s wine industry and taste some of the best wine in the world (in our very, very strong opinion). Saint- Émilion is known really for two things – its Monolithic Church and the rich red wines produced in the area. The large underground church was dug out of limestone in the early 12th century in honor of the hermit monk Emilion who lived in a cave on the site 400 years earlier.
After visiting this Church, take a stroll in the village itself. Wander the alleys, visit the wine shops, and enjoy the views all around the village. L’Envers du Décor is a delicious option for lunch, and you can stop by the historic Les Cordeliers to enjoy the grounds and taste their range of Crémant de Bordeaux sparkling wines.
There are about 1000 chateaux to choose from in Saint-Émilion, and most require reservations, so we recommend checking out the winery policy before starting on your wine tasting journey. Or you can stop by the local tourist office to see what is open that day.
Bordeaux wines are classified by location, rather than by grape. So, this makes the tasting process a little more interesting, but experts are always there to help! Instead of finding a typical Merlot or a Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll instead find something named like “Saint-Émilion Grand Cru”, a unique blend of Merlot, Cabernet France, Cab Sav and Malbec. Over 90% of Bordeaux wines are red wine blends and are typically medium or full-bodied. White wines from Bordeaux typically range from light and citrusy to aromatic and dry.
Arcachon and Pyla Dune
Less than an hour away from Bordeaux on the coast lies Arcachon, a quaint town with miles of fine sandy coastline to enjoy. You also can’t miss the Dune du Pilat (350-foot-high summit!), Europe’s tallest sand dune. Hike up to the top to see incredible panoramic views of surrounding forest and preserves. The best part? You can slide down the other side when you’re done!
This beach city with golden sand and clear water is perfect for swimming, shopping, relaxing, and oyster eating (we are big fans of oysters, so this is a bit of heaven for us). There are over 350 oyster farms in Arachon Bay and most are small producers selling almost entirely to locals and nearby restaurants. You literally can’t go wrong here as there aren’t middle-men or exporters, these oysters are some of the freshest you’ll ever taste. Finding a seaside spot to enjoy a platter along with a white Bordeaux or bubbly is one of the main activities and a must!
We’re already getting excited to head to Bordeaux! For details of what TROVE travelers will receive in this awesome box, check it out here. Be sure to order yours by early June to catch our LIVE exclusive experiences.