In a country as wine-obsessed as France, it’s difficult to pinpoint a singular viticultural capital. However, the southwestern city of Bordeaux presents a strong case for the national title – and perhaps even the world. It’s home to 57 protected wine regions, thousands of wineries and more than 120,000 hectares of vines – there’s even Cité du Vin, a wine museum located close to the Garonne River. If you’re imagining a city awash with wine bars, you’re not far off. But Bordeaux is also home to countless pubs, clubs and hidden speakeasies. Head off the beaten wine trail and you’ll find plenty of great bars.
This speakeasy-style bar, buried in the backstreets of Bordeaux, is dedicated to cocktails made with French spirits. Its warm interiors and leather couches create a cosy atmosphere, inviting you to stay a while. But don’t be fooled by its entrance: in order to get in, you’ll need to enter a library and call the staff via a phone booth – prohibition style.
This isn’t your average Bordeaux bar. Bar Jeux Barjo is a board game bar in the city centre, equipped with hundreds of games for both foreigners and French speakers to play. Tell the staff what you’re interested in and they’ll make custom suggestions. Prices include a game and drink – like draught beer or local vin – plus a tutorial, so you can enjoy a night of wholesome fun while sipping on a local drinks.
Vintage Bar is a rhumerie (rum bar) on the busy Rue Saint-James, just metres from the iconic Grosse Cloche. The busy bar offers happy hour specials from four until eight every day, making it a popular hangout among the young Bordelais. Grab a spot on the terrace between Monday and Friday if you’re keen for a quiet drink in the heart of Old Town Bordeaux – or if you’re up for a night out, there are live DJ sets on Saturdays.
Karaoke is a popular night-out activity across Asia, but it’s still a relatively new concept in Europe. BAM Karaoke Box is changing this, one tropical-themed private booth at a time. Their Bordeaux location is in the busy Chartrons district, and encourages visitors to pick up a mic and sing their hearts out. No need to be nervous – their cocktails will quell any pre-song jitters.
Situated by the Garonne River, Le Siman may just have the best views in all of Bordeaux. This rooftop bar and restaurant looks out over the city’s historic skyline and the famous Pont de Pierre. Order a drink and some hors d’oeuvres on the scenic terrace, no matter the season – it’s ideal on a balmy evening and heated during the winter.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Alexandra Jones.