Bordeaux is a gorgeous city to spend a long weekend in! While there are plenty of things to do if you’re traveling with kids, what’s even more fun is if you have a chance to take a little romantic break for two to this heart of the wine world. Lucky for us, we had the chance to do just that recently and now I’m here to tell you about all the can’t miss things to see, do, and eat while you’re there!
1. Wine Tasting
You can’t go to one of the most famous wine regions in the world without tasting some wine and there are plenty of options to accomplish this. There are countless tours to choose from and we first looked into a private tour but found them to be extremely pricey. We decided instead on a group tour with Rustic Vines based on their TripAdvisor reviews and we were really happy with the choice. The tours are small, capped at only 8 people and you meet at their office in the center of Bordeaux where you’re then transported by van to the different wineries. Rustic Vines has a variety of tours but we went with the classic Saint Emilion region since it is known for being the most beautiful village in the region.
The tour included wine tastings at two different wineries and a wine shop, a lovely picnic among the grape vines, and a tour of Saint Emilion. It was supposed to last 5 1/2 to 6 hours but apparently everyone was having such a good time that ours was almost 7 hours! It would have been fine except for our dinner reservation that we barely made it to (don’t mess with my food plans! ;)).
Another can’t miss wine spot back in Bordeaux is the Maison du Vin. This Bordeaux institution has a school that offers tasting courses as well as a bar with only Bordeaux wines that rotate on a regular basis (at very reasonable prices!). Definitely stop in for a glass or two!
2. Visit a Local Market
Bordeaux has a serious foodie scene so of course there are a variety of markets to choose from with gorgeous fresh, local produce and ready made food on offer. If it’s your first time to France, I’d recommend a market tour to really get the inside scoop on all that fine French food. There are several companies organizing them…I’d check TripAdvisor if you’re interested! We perused all of the markets over the course of the weekend and only wish we had more stomach room for sampling ;).
Marche des Capucins
If you need a quick lunch, this would be a good place to go with lots of little take away places and restaurants that looked very tempting.
Les Halles de Bacalan
This new market is right across from the can’t miss wine museum, Cité du Vin, so it’s easy to pair with a visit there. We just had a quick walk through because we had lunch plans but some of the plates we saw looked delicious!
Marché des Quais
This riverside market is only on Sunday mornings, but it was our favorite of all the markets because of the location. We drooled over the food stands and then shared some oysters because we can never pass them up at a French market!
3. Explore the City
Bordeaux is an absolutely gorgeous city and it’s definitely worth just taking time to wander around and see the beautiful sights. The architecture is just breathtaking in this city and around every corner it seems like there’s something to admire.
Check out the reflecting pools at the Place de la Bourse just after the sun goes down!
We really liked the trendy neighborhood of Les Chartrons.
Don’t miss the spectacular views from the Pey-Berland Tower…just note you have to climb LOTS of stairs!
4. Visit the Cité du Vin
If you are at all interested in wine, I’d highly recommend a visit to the Cité du Vin where you get to learn about all things wine all the way from ancient times up until present day. Entry to the museum is 20 Euro per person and it includes a glass of wine at the end. The visit also includes an audio guide and there are so many interesting high-tech exhibits that you could easily spend hours here.
While the museum was great, the real highlight for us was lunch at the museum’s panoramic restaurant, Le 7. I’d recommend booking in advance, which you can do online, to make sure you get a table outside on the terrace. The food here was really excellent and we loved the wine menu on tablets since the selections rotate regularly.
Which brings me to one of the most important things to do in Bordeaux…EAT! As I mentioned, Bordeaux is a real foodie hot spot and you are spoiled for choice with great eats in this city. Ranging from a number of Michelin star restaurants to casual bistros to market restaurants, you’ll wish you could fit in more meals in a day! My one tip is to be sure to make reservations in advance and if you’d like to try one of the Michelin starred restaurants, book as early as possible! Some of these restaurants book out months in advance. Here are some of our favorite meals from our visit:
If you visit in June, you might get lucky and arrive while the food festival is going on. We wandered through the stalls one day and shared a couple of plates that were really delicious.
I have no pictures of this meal, but it was a great one and a good value with 3 courses for 29 Euros. The menu is small and changes regularly and the service was excellent. Highly recommend.
This restaurant is a really fun concept and has great atmosphere. It’s French Asian fusion and the menu is a surprise. After each course, you’re told exactly what it was you ate! We also really liked their wine battles where you and your partner each get a glass of wine and you have to guess which is which. I was a little nervous about this type of restaurant because I don’t eat meat, just fish, but they were very accommodating. In fact you have any food allergies or dislikes you just tell them when you arrive.
On your last day in Bordeaux, if the sun is shining I’d recommend a trip out to Arcachon, a seaside resort town famous for harvesting oysters. Only about 45 minutes out of the city, you can either take public transport or arrange a tour. We had hoped to do this on our last day but unfortunately the weather was not cooperating!
Since it was rainy and we didn’t really feel like visiting a museum, we decided to spend the afternoon at the Intercontinental Spa. You can buy a day pass to the spa but it’s pricey. A better deal is to get a treatment and the spa entry is included. Unfortunately they were fully booked for treatments that day, but we did enjoy a few hours of relaxation in their lovely facility.
I’d recommend a stay at the luxury guest house, La Course, when you visit Bordeaux. Unfortunately for us, they were all booked so we didn’t have the chance to stay here. Instead we stayed at a small B & B called Villa Saint Genes. The hosts were lovely, breakfast was nice, rooms were spacious, and there was a nice little plunge pool in the garden. It was a great stay and off the beaten path a bit. There are also lots of apartments for rent in the center through Booking.com or AirBnB.
So there you have it! Bordeaux is certainly a romantic city and a great choice for a little weekend escape.