Thursday, May 2, 2019

An overnight in Bordeaux

French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux

An Overnight in Bordeaux #AllAboutFrance

Spending a night in Bordeaux has been on my wish list for a number of years now. Day trips to la grande dame, one of my favourite French cities, are always exciting, even if they are just to Ikea, but I wanted to experience more. To not have to worry about the two-hour return journey home, to enjoy a leisurely evening meal with wine and to wake up there; that was what I wanted, and what I finally got when we made Bordeaux the start and end point of our 350km adventure, cycling along the Canal de la Garonne to Toulouse.

Bordeaux on the first Saturday of the school holidays, complete with sunshine, warmth and crowds was alive and just a little bit overwhelming for a country mouse like me, for whom 40 people filling the village bar is a crowd. It could have felt even more intimidating when we noticed the protesting Gilets Jaunes marching along the river front, with banners and raised voices, followed by a convoy of riot police vans. However, it was peaceful and not at all threatening and we cycled on by. 

There is so much to see and do in Bordeaux, so I thought I would share my Top Favourites that are easy to fit in if, like us, you have more (but not much more) than a day.
French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux Place de la Bourse
Place de la Bourse Bordeaux
Place de la Bourse and the famous miroir d’eau. 
This is somewhere we always enjoy spending time; the open paved square with the Three Graces fountain, surrounded by the stunning architecture of the 18th Century buildings, all reflected in the wide water mirror on the riverfront promenade, that is alive with soggy, laughing children having a great time. On hot summer days we’ve paddled, but with loaded bikes, this time we were content to people watch and take a few photos before continuing our riverside ride.

Bordeaux on a bike is super easy with marked cycle paths away from the roads, cycle ways on roads (where cars are often one way and bikes are two way), and although on shared usage paths the signs say to give priority to pedestrians, the bike is pretty much access all areas and the city is alive with bikes and cyclists of all ages, styles and abilities.
French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux Monument aux Girondins
Monument aux Girondins Bordeaux
Place des Quinconces 
This is a huge public square, set back a little from the river, where everything is on an enormous scale; the square and the Monument aux Girondins with its fountains, statues and towering column. There is often an event, fair or fete set up in the square and we were there when the April brocante was on and had a lovely wander up and down the rows of stalls while the sun was shining.
French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux Jardin Public
Jardin Public Bordeaux
Jardin Public 
Just a short distance by bike from the Monument aux Girondins is the entrance to the public gardens; a calm and green oasis offering a moment of peace in a busy city. With a lake, flowerbeds, trees, vistas of beautiful Bordeaux buildings and grass you can sit on (unlike in Paris), plus a puppet theatre and natural history museum I really do recommend taking time out to chill in the park.
French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux musée du vin et du négoce
Musée du vin et du négoce Bordeaux
Musée du vin et du négoce
We didn’t have much time to visit museums, so we selected just one, the wine and wine trader museum on Rue Borie. Set in the former caves of a wine merchant, the museum isn’t too big, but with lots of exhibits and friendly staff, it was interesting, informative and good value, especially as two taster glasses of Bordeaux wine were including in the price. You can find more information from their website here.
French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bordeaux
Dockside bars
Up towards the impressive new bridge over the Gironde, the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, the old dock hangers are now bars and restaurants with waterfront terraces and happy hour offers. A great place for an early apéro and a spot of people watching, especially if there are any river cruise ships in. 
French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux La Cheminée Royale
Starter at La Cheminée Royale Bordeaux
La Cheminée Royale
Dinner at this traditional restaurant on Rue Saint-Rémi was a real Bordelaise treat; a kir with olives for an apéro, a generous goat cheese salad starter, then steak cooked on an open fire and chips cooked in duck fat, served with a red wine sauce, followed by an apple tarte tatin, and accompanied by a nice bottle of red wine. All this for 66€ for the two of us. The restaurant was packed out and many who turned up without reservations were sent away; great signs that we had made a good choice and one I would recommend and return to. You can find out more on their website here.
French Village Diaries overnight in Bordeaux March des Capucins
Breakfast at Marché des Capucins
Marché des Capucins
This large indoor covered market is open every morning and the perfect place for breakfast, or to buy a lunch. A short walk from our hotel (where many were eating an uninspiring breakfast in a dark room with the only window looking into the reception area) we ate outside, in the sun, with the colourful backdrop of a fruit and veg stall. Our coffees and croissants cost 5.70€ in total and we then enjoyed a tempting walk around the rest of the market, where there was so much tasty temptation, I admit we fell under the spell of a still warm feta cheese pasty that was as delicious as it sounds.

My dream of staying over didn’t disappoint, but I do have one word of warning, especially if you are on bikes like we were. Watch out for broken glass. Bordeaux, it seems is a party animal after dark, she parties hard and the evidence the following morning is all too obvious. 

I hope you have enjoyed my mini-tour of Bordeaux as much as I did, even if there is so much more still to see (for the next time).

This post has been linked to the #AllAboutFrance blog link here


  1. Staying in a town or city rather than just a day trip is a totally different experience. We have done this recently with Cambridge near us - staying overnight was so much more relaxing and we were able to go into museums, enjoy a meal and theatre trip.
    Bordeaux looks beautiful - I'd go for the wine museum too! #AllAboutFrance

    1. If you ever get the chance to visit Bordeaux - go for it, it is a lovely place and they often have river cruises stop over there (I know you have done one in France).

  2. I agree with Trish (and you) that it makes such a difference to stay over night. My equivalent of your Bordeaux is Marseille (2 hours drive) which I had been to several times before ever staying the night. It's great to be able to relax, drink and take in the evening vibe, as well as breakfast. I too never understand why people have hotel breakfasts if the dining room (and food on offer) is uninspiring. Thanks for this tour of Bordeaux, I really want to spend some time there too. #AllAboutFrance

    1. Thanks Phoebe - one day I'd like to stay in Marseille too!

  3. Now I can see Bordeaux is much more than just the wine that bears its name. Now wishing Normandy would hurry up and get warmer so we can start having breakfast al freso again! #AllAboutFrance

    1. Breakfast in the garden is the best isn't it!

  4. Such a good idea to make a commitment to stay overnight in Bordeaux. I've been a few times, but not yet stayed in the centre. I think we need to make a plan to stay over next time! #AllAboutFrance

  5. Bordeaux is one of my favourite French cities too! A bit sad I won't get to visit as often now that we've moved south (we used to be just over an hour away). Thanks for the inspiration to go back again! #allaboutfrance


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