Bordeaux secret and ‘must know’ places #1: city guide for wine
Bordeaux was once known as la belle dormant. However, in the past decade, the city has awakened as dynamic and beautiful thanks to major investments in infrastructure and culture. While Bordeaux is the sixth city in France in terms of population, it ranks just after Paris in its number of monuments. There’s much to discover in this mid-sized city that is filled to the brim with history, culture, and of course, wine.
As a first-time visitor to Bordeaux, get your bearings with the ultimate checklist for one day in Bordeaux. To explore the city further, try venturing off the tourist trail! Join us as we dive into some ‘must know’ and lesser known places and experiences around the city.
Here, we’re focusing on Bordeaux’s most well-known attraction: wine!
In the past, Bordeaux was merely a stopover to visiting the famous wine region. However, as we know, the city itself is now an interesting and worthwhile destination. For wine lovers, the impressive and modern ‘Cite du Vin’, inaugurated in 2016, tops tourist lists and is indeed an essential stop for visitors interested in wine.
Those seeking additional wine experiences will be delighted to know that there are a number of other lesser known yet quality spots around the city that are worth tracking down.
1. Learn more about wine in Bordeaux : Musée du vin et du négoce
If you’re looking for more wine education after visiting the ‘Cité du vin,’ we recommend that you visit the Musée du Vin et du Négoce, a smaller and lesser known wine museum. Hidden in the beautiful streets of the Chartrons district, this museum offers visitors an answer to the intriguing question: Why is Bordeaux wine so famous?
It’s not only the exquisite cépages and terroirs of Bordeaux wine that makes it so well known worldwide. Bordeaux’s port de la lune has also played a crucial role.
To explain, the museum shows the history and importance of Bordeaux’s wine production, trade, and role of les négociants or wine merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The museum is even located in a merchant’s house that dates back to 1720. Here, we can discover the traditional layout of these buildings: The impressive entrance hall received wine shipments from the nearby port. Then, the wine was taken down into the expansive cave that now houses the museum’s artifacts. The wine merchant and his family lived above à l’étage.
At the end of your museum visit, gather for an intimate wine tasting. First, an expert will explain the different appellations of Bordeaux. After, you’ll have the chance to taste several local wines.
2. Taste wine in Bordeaux at Bar à vin
The winding streets in the center of Bordeaux are teeming with lovely cafes, bars, and restaurants where you can indulge in local wines.
How to choose?
For starters, head to the succinctly named Bar à Vin. There are several reasons it’s a wonderful place to enjoy Bordeaux wines.
First, the setting is unique. The bar à vin is located in an 18th century building designed to resemble a ship, a reference to Bordeaux’s important role as a port city. Renovated in 2006, the interior combines neoclassical architecture with contemporary design. The result is a stylish setting with many seating options: cosy armchairs, a bistro style bar, and in warmer months, a terrace with a magnificent view of Place de la Comedie.
Additionally, sommeliers are available to advise you according to preference. Therefore, no need to worry if you’re new to Bordeaux wines.
Perhaps best of all, the high-quality wines can be enjoyed at not so high prices. Despite the wine bar’s sumptuous setting, glasses start at two euros. It’s a good thing because it’s hard to pick just one variety.
The menu changes, but always offers a wide range of local wines. The Bar à Vin website details, “the entire Bordeaux range – reds, dry and sweet whites, rosés, clairets and sparkling wines – can be sampled in a setting that has been specially designed to take you on a voyage of discovery through the wine appellations of Bordeaux.”
3. Discover ‘true’ Bordeaux vines: Jardin de la Béchade
We all know Bordeaux is surrounded by lovely vineyards, but you’ll be surprised to find some vines within the city limits as well.
Venture away from the city center to visit the Jardin de la Béchade. The lovely green space offers an escape from the city and an unexpected surprise.
Famously, Paris has its own Montmartre vineyard. Alternately, Bordeaux has the Béchade Garden. It’s where we can find a plot of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon: a mini vineyard within the city!
The vines are maintained by the city and harvested by neighborhood school children. These vines produce a small number of bottles every year: wine ‘truly’ from Bordeaux.
Place de la Victoire
Head back into the city center to Place de la Victoire to spot some more vines. Interestingly, in the heart of Bordeaux are the oldest vines in the area. Planted by a prominent Bordeaux family just after the Revolution, these 200-year-old vines climb a trellis in Victory square. Curiously, we can spot them by looking just near the Mcdo.
While in Place de la Victoire, we can also admire a monument to Bordeaux wine. Don’t miss the unusual statue of two bronze turtles eating grapes. Look closely at their shells and you’ll notice the names of Bordeaux appellations, an homage to the Bordeaux wine industry.
Don’t be afraid to indulge in wine during a visit to Bordeaux. Afterwards, maybe get lost in the beautiful winding streets. Bordeaux is full of interesting sites and unusual spots for wine and much more. Maybe you’ll discover your own.
Did you know about these places for wine in Bordeaux? Which one would you like to visit? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or on Twitter @maviefrancaise
- The ultimate checklist for one day in Bordeaux via myfrenchlife.org
- Here comes the French harvest via myfrenchlife.org
- The Chartrons District via thefrenchatlanticcoast.com
- Coucher de soleil sur les quais de Bordeaux via @instapulpe on Instagram
- Bordeaux via @Pascal__Faure on Instagram
- Cite du vin Bordeaux 2017 via Wikimedia Commons
- Cave extraordinaire via @nathbourhis on Instagram
- Boire du vin via @charlessifferlin on Instagram
- Réalisation complete via @mimilo_tapissier_bordeaux on Instagram
- Béchade Garden Vines copyright author Alexis Herrington
- Bordeaux Place de la Victoire via @Pascale__Faure on Instagram
Bordeaux secret and ‘must know’ places
Bordeaux is bursting with sites and experiences waiting to be discovered.
Use our city guides to plan your next trip to Bordeaux.
#1: city guide for wine (this one)
#2: city guide for history
#3: city guide for culture (not yet published)