We tell you which are the places you should not miss when visiting the city of Bordeaux in France. A place full of history and wine.
In France many times the combination of wine, history and ancient monuments is present. The port city of Bordeaux is an example of this. We are going to take a tour of the city, to show you what to see in Bordeaux.
Bordeaux is a port city in southwestern France. Famous for being part of one of the most significant wine regions in the country, it has some 60 appellations of origin and some 7,000 wine growers. But, in addition to wine, Bordeaux is a city full of history and monuments that we can enjoy.
The tourist card to visit the city
What can we do to save money to see all in Bordeaux? Use the tourist card is called CityPass, it comes in 24, 48 and 72 hour formats, buy it in advance here.
With the CityPass we are entitled to the following:
- La Cité du Vin (before noon)
- Les Bassins de Lumières
- Unlimited transport (tram, bus, river transportation)
- 15 museums and monuments
- 1 city tour (in our case we chose the tourist bus that we talked about at the end of this article, but there are other options)
What to see in Bordeaux?
One option to make contact with the city is to take a Free tour of Bordeaux, in this type of tour the guide tells you stories about the places you see during the walk. So you already have an idea of what to visit more in depth the rest of the time.
Place de la Bourse and the Water Mirror
The Place de la Bourse, or Stock Market Square, is one of the favorite spots to take photos in Bordeaux. And it is that in addition to the mirror of water that we have right in front, which was placed less than 20 years ago and is barely 2 cm deep, it is the largest mirror of water in the world, with a surface of 3450 m²
The square, on the other hand, is much older, it was built between 1730 and 1775 and in the times of the monarchy it had a large equestrian statue of Louis XV, but when the Revolution fell it disappeared and several attempts of fountains/statues passed by there, but the one that remained in the end was the “Fountain of the Three Graces” that came to stay in 1869.
This medieval defensive gate, which looks like something out of a fairy tale, was made at the end of the 15th century and is in a Gothic-Renaissance style. Despite the passage of time, its form has not changed and that is saying a lot after so many centuries.
The name of the tower means pebble (calhau in Gascon), although historians apparently cannot agree on whether it comes from a surname or another origin. What everyone agrees on is that the gate is 35 meters high and that from its height you can see a beautiful panorama of the city.
- Visiting hours: from July 1 to September 30, every day from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
- Price: 5 euros / FREE with the Bordeaux CityPass
This bridge is the oldest in the city, it crosses the Garonne River and was built by order of Napoleon I between 1810 and 1822.
I don’t know if it’s vanity, but a very curious fact about this bridge: it has 17 arches, which corresponds to the number of letters in Napoleon Bonaparte’s name, could it be a coincidence? probably not.
Place des Quinconces
The Place des Quinconces, is one of the largest squares in Europe, it has an area of 126,000 m². The main monument seen in this huge square is called the Monument to the Girondins and was made in honor of the victims of The Terror during the French Revolution. It has a large pedestal decorated with horses and a huge column that represents the spirit of freedom.
Among the sculptures in the square are:
- towards the Great Theater: triumph of the Republic
- in the direction of Chartrons: Triumph of Concord
- towards the river: the Tribune with the French rooster; to his right, History, and to his left, Eloquence (2 people seated).
- towards Place Tourny: the city of Bordeaux sitting on the prow of a ship with a cornucopia. To the right of the base the Dordogne river and to the left the Garonne.
Saint André Cathedral and Pey Berland Tower
The Cathedral of Saint Andrew of Bordeaux is a cathedral church in the Gothic style and is the most important in the city. Since 1998 the cathedral is part of the World Heritage Site, this as part of the sites of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
It was built at the end of the 9th century and was the scene of the wedding between Eleanor of Aquitaine and the future King Louis VII
The Pey Berland Tower, which bears that name in honor of the person who had it built, is a quadrangular bell tower and on its top you can see a statue of Notre-Dame de Aquitaine made in 1862.
The cathedral can be visited for free and for the tower you have to pay (or if you have the CityPass card it is included), unfortunately when we went it was closed.
- Visiting hours (tower): From June to September, every day from 10 AM to 1:15 PM and from 2 PM to 6 PM. From October to May, every day except Monday from 10 AM to 12:30 PM and from 2 PM to 5:30 PM
- Price: 5.50 euros / FREE with the CityCard
Cité du Vin
Being Bordeaux a city with a wine tradition, it was more than natural to have a museum of this type. In this museum we will learn about the history of wine through the ages and how production is carried out today.
For this visit you have to be prepared to spend between two and three hours, at least that was how long it took us. In any case, when using the CityPass, you have to arrive before noon, with this it is best to visit and eat afterwards. So our stomach is the one that will mark the time limit on this route.
- Visiting hours: every day from 10 AM to 6 PM
- Price: 21 euros / FREE with the CityPass (beware, you have to arrive before 12PM)
Oh! and very important, I almost forgot to mention it, the entrance ticket includes a wine tasting 🙂
Bassins des Lumières
The Bassins des Lumières or pool of lights is a projection of works of art on walls where total darkness reigns, the magic happens when the projections are reflected in the water of the place (the pools). This place was built by the Germans in World War II and measures about 45,000 square meters, it could house several submarines.
The projection show will be different depending on the time you come to see this show in Bordeaux.
- Visiting hours: from April to September (and during school holidays), from Sunday to Thursday from 10AM to 7PM / Friday and Saturday from 10AM to 9PM, the rest of the year from Sunday to Thursday from 10AM to 6PM / Friday and Saturday from 10AM to 8PM
- Price: 13.50 euros / FREE with the CityCard
Bordeaux Grand Theater
The Grand Theater is another of those emblematic places in the city, it is a place that you will see very often when you visit Bordeaux. The entrance with its twelve columns can be seen from the Plaza de la Comedia, of the twelve statues that are at the top are nine muses and three goddesses. It was opened in 1780 and is one of the oldest theaters in Europe.
We were able to visit it since at that time there was a temporary exhibition and we were able to go at our own pace, but guided tours are also carried out in case there is no temporary exhibition at that time and you can’t see it. Well the other option is to enter a show 😀
- Visiting hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 1:00 PM to 6:30 PM
- Price: 10 euros
This building houses the Bordeaux Town Hall and if you want to know what you can see here you must join a guided tour. This place was built in the 13th century by the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Mériadec de Rohan who, due to the twists of fate, could never really take possession of it. That and other stories are what they told us during the visit, I don’t want to spoil too much 😀
The only downside is that the visit is in French, but even if you can’t understand much of the guide’s explanations, be sure to take a tour of this unique palace. The visit lasts just under an hour.
- Visiting hours: Fridays at 10AM and 11AM
- Price: 8 euros / FREE with the CityCard
Museum of Fine Arts
It is the oldest museum in the city, it was built on both sides of the Rohan Palace garden in 1881. That is, it is in the back if we visit the palace. It has two wings, the south one is dedicated to the old collections from the 16th to the 18th century; and the north is dedicated to the 19th and 20th centuries.
Here we can see works by Picasso, Renoir, Rubens, among others.
- Visiting hours: Wednesday to Monday 11AM to 6PM
- Price: 5 euros / FREE with the CityPass
La Grosse Cloche
This is one of the oldest bell towers in France, which unfortunately we could not visit as it was closed.
Its bells have not stopped ringing since the 13th century, only today it does so less frequently, in fact the bell of more than 7,000 kilos only rings 6 times a year: January 1, May 8, July 14, August 28 and November 11 at 11 am. In addition to this, it can be heard on the first Sunday of each month at noon (since July 2016). And you have to know that the bell has a name: “Armande-Louise“.
This medieval gate was once also a prison, misbehaved young people were locked up here and it was joked that they stayed at the “Golden Lion Hotel”, referring to the figure in the central dome.
This is one of those must-see photogenic places in Bordeaux that looks like something out of a princes and princesses tale, and rather the other way around… tales were based on places like this 🙂
- Visiting hours: from June to September from 1PM to 7PM and from March to May / October to November from 2PM to 5PM
- Price: 5 euros / FREE with the CityPass
Walk along the Pier
From the Cité du Vin, we were able to take a pleasant walk along the entire quay. Along the way you will find cafes, restaurants, skating rinks and spaces where you can admire the Bordeaux landscape. Here in the photo we could see a beautiful landscape with the Tower of the Basilica of Saint Michael (Flèche de la Basilique Saint-Michel) in the background.
- La Flèche Saint-Michel closed on November 1, 2021 due to a five-year reconstruction project.
The tourist bus
If you have the CityPass or have little time to explore the city, this is a very good option. The bus is taken from the tourist office. If the weather allows it, get on top, it feels weird crossing the bridge, but it’s worth it.
- Tour duration: 1 hour and a half
- Price: 12 euros / FREE with the CityPass card
@charcotrip Desde las alturas del camión 😅 lindas nubes que vimos en Burdeos #charcotrip #nubes #viaje #mexicanosenelmundo #fyp #parati #CapCut ♬ It’s a Beautiful Day – Michael Bublé
In Bordeaux, do not miss eating…
To the question “what to see in Bordeaux”, you must add “what to eat” 😀 don’t miss the Canelé, a traditional dessert from the city. They have a cylindrical shape with striated edges that characterize them and give them their name. Its exterior is caramelized and should not be crunchy while its interior is soft and rubbery. And they are delicious 🙂
What to see in Bordeaux? now you know: a lot
In Bordeaux there is much to see and do, plus you will make your palate happy. Give yourself the opportunity to spend a few days and you will see a version of France away from Paris, to change a little 🙂