In the minds of many travelers, Bordeaux rhymes with wine and large French estates – this is of course a true and essential element of the city, but there is much more on offer when it comes to leisure in Bordeaux. From its ancient cathedrals to the beauty of its architecture, the city will impress you in many ways. It is also no surprise that half of Bordeaux is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as the 18 centuries of history are still alive and well in the architectural sites of the city.
History and culture
Bordeaux has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years. Thanks to the impulse of an energetic mayor, Bordeaux has transformed itself through newly constructed boulevards, restoration and a modern transportation system (see section on Transportation in Bordeaux). However, the city still preserves its glimmer of the past, and the preservation efforts over the years have yielded their fruits as Bordeaux is now the largest urban world heritage site. Here are some of the sights to visit in Bordeaux:
- The Primatial Saint-André Cathedral which is listed on the UNESCO World heritage list since 1998
- La Flèche Saint-Michel
- Hâ, Langoiran, Cadillac, Benauges (in Arbis), Brède, Malle castles
- The Musée des Beaux-Arts, des Arts Décoratifs, d'Aquitaine, the Goupil, the Jean Moulin National Center, the Conservatoire de l'Image Industriel
- The Remarkable Platane tree in the Town of Porge (this tree is 130 years old and has a circumference of 4.75m).
If you'd rather spend an afternoon at the cinema, opera or other shows, you can choose from no less than 22 theatres, around 10 cinemas and several other venues, including big complexes and a National Opera.
Parks and nature
There are a multitude of parks and gardens in Bordeaux, which is rightly known to be a green and leafy city. The Jardin Public and the Parc de Majolan are some of Bordeaux’s best offerings and if you are willing to venture further out, make sure to sign up for a bike tour of the region’s wineries. This is a popular activity in the summer and involves cycling around St Emilion, which is also listed as a World Heritage Site. There you will be able to stop at wineries and indulge in winetasting in one of the most illustrious wine producing regions in the world. There are numerous tours, but you can also arrange your own day at St Emilion by hiring bicycles in Bordeaux and driving to St Emilion. However, guides are particularly useful as they are generally quite knowledgeable both regarding the wines and the estates.
La vie à la française
Markets, fairs and flea markets are a cornerstone of French culture, even in major cities like Paris and Bordeaux. It is a fun activity, whether you are on your own, with friends or with your family to wander among the flea markets and to try to spot good deals. Of course, it goes without saying that gastronomy plays a central role in the culture of Bordeaux. The city is home to many outdoor restaurants offering wonderful views and a great setting to indulge in excellent wine and unique dishes. The Comptoir de Sèze, the Pressoir d’Argent and the restaurant Julien Curège are good addresses, but they do not favour the city’s rich offerings, which are incredibly diverse. Make sure to visit La Fourchette as well as the website of the city of the Bordeaux for an overview of what the city has to offer with regards to gastronomy:
Expatriates travelling with children and bookworms will not be disappointed, as Bordeaux hosts no less than 4 libraries, as well as a municipal multimedia library where you can spend as many hours as you want. On top of the public libraries, take a stroll around the city to discover the small, independent libraries of the city and do not hesitate to ask for recommendations from the store attendants – you might be in for some good finds.
Bordeaux offers a rich palette of sports infrastructure. Whether you are moving there alone or with your family, you will be free to enjoy its two bowling clubs and numerous golf courses, as well as its ice rink. There are also many swimming pools across the city, including some in Audenge, Lanton and Porge.
You will also be able to experience several outings, exhibitions, festivals and other events in the city. Make sure to consult the website of the city of Bordeaux in order to keep abreast of what is going on, especially in the summer, when the long days of Southern France become backdrops for social gatherings of all sorts. In short, there is so much to do in Bordeaux that you are not likely to get bored, but if you do, a glass of St Emilion is never too far away!
Jardins de Bordeaux
Bordeaux markets, fairs and flea markets
Bordeaux Tourism Portal – Heritage & Culture
Yelp – movie theaters in Bordeaux
Bordeaux Tourism Portal – Swimming pools
Sortir Bordeaux Gironde