The Insider Guide to Bordeaux

Bordeaux is sometimes known as Little Paris, and that moniker’s justified. The southwestern-French port city rivals the capital for historical and architectural treasures – not to mention culinary delights. Here, you’ll find ancient cobblestone streets filled with friendly faces, famous wines and sightseeing hotspots.

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The Main Attractions

While many come to Bordeaux for the wine, there’s so much more to the Port of the Moon, including more than 2,300 years of history, amazing food, great shopping, world-class cultural attractions and a fun nightlife scene. Located on a crescent-moon-shaped bend on the Garonne River, Bordeaux has a well-preserved historic heart, which dates to the Golden Age of Enlightenment. The old town is basically one enormous Unesco World Heritage site, home to no fewer than 347 listed buildings. For a whistle-stop walking tour, start at the Place des Quinconces. It’s home to the Monument aux Girondins, and one of the main public transport hubs in central Bordeaux. From here, head northeast to the Jardin Public for a little R&R. Alternatively, kick off your two-footed explorations through the Golden Triangle, home to the Grande Theatre Bordeaux, a prime example of 18th-century neoclassical architecture. Make a loop past Bordeaux Cathedral, the neighbouring Musée des Beaux-Arts – which houses classical European art fine enough to suit the opulent surroundings – and the Pont de Pierre, passing by the Grosse Cloche and the Porte de Bourgogne. Take a break in the bistros of Saint-Pierre before marvelling at the dreamy reflections of the Palais de la Bourse in the Miroir d’Eau (Bordeaux Water Mirror). If you prefer your history more wine-focussed, the Cité du Vin is an infallible first port of call. Learn all about the rich winemaking history of the region before visiting nearby Saint-Émilion – where the vineyards date to Roman times – or joining a Bordeaux Wine Tour through the countryside. Still, it isn’t all architecture, history and wine. Bordeaux is a city of innovation – with the first university here established by the Romans in 286 – so there’s a cutting-edge streak running through it. For something a little more underground (quite literally), head to Les Bassins de Lumières, a digital art installation in a former WWII submarine base, or visit the old Wet Docks district, aka Bassins a Flot. Read on to find out more.

Neighborhoods in Bordeaux