TRAVEL GUIDE - BORDEAUX, FRANCE

Ahh Bordeaux, our first love and home for nine months when we moved to France just last June. This beautiful city is why I had to write a travel guide for my travel tribe out there! If you never heard of Bordeaux, let alone it being the one of the top wine regions let me be the first to tell you – march your way down to your local wine store and pick up a Saint-Émilion, Pauillac, Marqaux and/or a Medoc... like ASAP! You will not be disappointed. Now that you have your wine by your side, let us get back to the city itself. Bordeaux is in the South-West region of France and has the Garonne River to show its great divide between the east and west bank; it’s breath taking I might add. Besides being known for its top-notch wine, there are a plethora of things to see and do when visiting. One of the many great things about Bordeaux is that it plays no favor when it comes to all five of the human senses. The city has sir past natives and visitors taste buds with their gastronomy on take, has one of the largest shopping streets in France and has plenty of memories to make while traveling through this ravishing city. Here I will talk about the architecture, what to visit and where to eat and drink as well as talk about the areas on where to stay.

 
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ARCHITECTURE LOVERS

One of the hardest parts when moving out of Bordeaux was leaving its astonishing architecture. Excluding Paris, Bordeaux is another city to where this fine country ceases to not only protect its history, but to protect the monumental pieces history left behind. For example, there are cathedrals and buildings being mention and classified on UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will see many examples of the classical and neoclassical architectural unity in the buildings; some even dating back to the 1730s. To all my photographers out there, this is a somewhat euphoria to take so many beautiful pictures. Every where you go and every corner you turn you are surrounded by stunning buildings, landscape and more!

 
 Via:  AD

Via: AD

 
 

WHAT TO DO


SHOPPING LOCATIONS


Oh la la the French sure take the term “Shop till you Drop” seriously on this street. The Rue Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux has been coined the longest pedestrian street in Europe. This street of 1.2 KM is the main shopping street of Bordeaux. It is best to start at the tip-top where the Intercontinental Grand Hotel is located and from there you will see the infamous Apple Store, once you see that you will find yourself strolling down to the Galleria Lafayette along with many, many and I mean many more stores. Ranging from cute petit boutiques to big name French brands such as, Etam, Pimkie and Undiz, and I cannot forget to add an endless amount of bakeries you’ll pass along with chocolate stores.

 

While being overwhelmed by Saint- Catherine’s enormous shopping options, we have passed this street numerous of times to not give it a try. When the time came we finally stepped through the fairly new gateway and it was like stepping into a terrace American shopping center which was a take back from Bordeaux’s well-known architecture. Now for the people traveling with kids, adults who are kids at heart or just want to go for the heck of it, The Lego Store is located inside here along with many other boutiques. I will go ahead and just say, “You’re Welcome”. Not to mention the seating outside is beyond enjoyable you almost can’t resist that American fix near a McDonald’s and Starbucks *wink.

 

This street houses higher end shopping, such as Zapa, Massimo Dutti and Hermès which leads you to “Place Gambetta” which has plenty more shops, restaurants and bars. One of my favorites to taste is the oh so classic canelé pastry, which if you ask me is the “mascot” of Bordeaux pastries. I can see why, with the rich flavored rum and creamy vanilla, I mean come on! If your sweet tooth is as bad as mine, you can find this at Canelés Baillardran right off this street!

 

This right here is a hidden gem. This dome like mall is three stories with its high-end shopping in and around the mall; there is literally a store for everyone. With that being said, I do have to fair warn you that the entire top floor is a toy store. Yep! La Grande Récré, is a kids dream and a parents “OH NO” moment. However, don’t worry because for the women just around the corner there is a high-end vintage shop that sales jaw dropping Chanel bags, and for the men there is classic shaving gear and watches to look through. Just a heads up for lunch they close off the road circling the commercial center and serve food from different bistros. A good time for a mental break if you ask me, also if you like to people watch and eat this is your time to shine.

 

Easy access by tram or walking from hyper center Bordeaux, and is located off the left bank of the Gironne river, you have at least thirty-five outlet shops ranging from Hugo Boss, Reebok and Le Coq Sportif when it comes to shopping. When shopping has become too much there are up to thirteen bars/restaurants to choose from to quench your thirst or feed your hangriness. Once you arrive you can enjoy the majesty of the Jaques Chaban- Delmas bridge.


VISIT


La Cité du Vin

Did you say a wine museum? Yes, I said wine museum with workshops to learn about wine, restaurants and boutiques where you can do tastings and my personal favorite to be able to pick and choose from seventy different countries and take your wine home. A must see is Latitude 20  on the first floor! This right here is a wine lovers dream. Now I want you to close your eyes and picture this, the ultimate wine cellar of the world, with a modern cave like atmosphere that surrounds you 360 degrees, a floor to ceiling wine library consisting of more than 14,000 bottles and 800 references from around the world from over seventy countries. Imagining this in your head will not do you justice, so do me a favor and Do Not miss this or you can fancy the picture of me praising the enormous collection below.

 

La Cité du Vin

LATITUDE 20

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La Guinguette Chez Alriq

Now I do not think this spot is on any travel guide because this is where all the Bordelais(es) people go, and I can see why. This place is so fun and is only opened from May – September! This is an outdoor backyard dream, with tables that spread out under the glowing light string which hang from the branches of the trees with views of the Garonne river, along with live entertainment starting at 7pm and serving mouthwatering tapas with your choice ranging from different wines and beers. And just so you know the scenery/atmosphere is to die for when the sun is going down!

 
 
 

Tourist Must Sees

Here are the monuments I would recommend putting on your list to check out!

 

Miroir d’Eau

 
 

Eglise Saint-Pierre

Monument aux Girondins

 

Porte Cailhau

 

Jardin Public

 
 

WINE TASTING


Saint-Émilion

 
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Another one of my favorite places in France, is in the beautiful city St. Emillion. It’s a small city so you can enjoy seeing almost everything by foot. This city is so picturesque, feeling like you were taken back in time with street like hills cover by cobble stone, however being brought back by it leading the way to restaurants and wines galore. And don’t worry, if you’re pressed for time there are plenty of local “caves” within the city to do wine tastings.

 

Bordeaux Wine Region

 
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Since we were living in Bordeaux we didn’t get the itch to do a traditional wine tour. Instead we had the taste for adventure, and boy did it taste good. We decided to drive around stopping at the different vineyards, tasted their wines and bought a case as we went along.  There was however one wine cave we would occasionaly go to on Sundays and buy some wines too. The place was called, L' Avant Garde , and they have employees who are so informative and taught us so much about the different local vineyards and can also ship wines back to the USA for at least a case (6 bottles). Here are the areas, in addition, which would be good to visit if wanting to go to the vineyards and are some of the top wines of the world. With that said, you cannot go wrong with any Bordeauz reds!

  • Sainte-Estephe

  • Pauillac

  • Margaux

  • Medoc

  • Grave

 

where to stay



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Location Location Location

Since we rented an Airbnb I will give advice on what areas to focus on staying. If I did have to mention a hotel I would definitely recommend InterContinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel. We had the privilege to live right around the corner from the hotel and WOW! It is located right across the Opéra and a rock throw away to the start of Rue Sainte-Catherine (shopping street). To show you how exquisite it is, well known Chef Gordan Ramsey has one of his restaurant located inside the hotel (which I recommend)! As for areas to stay in, obviously this area is good which is located in hyper center Bordeaux, however here is a continued list of areas that are close to all the action:

  • Allées de Tourny

  • Jardin Public

  • Place Gambetta

  • Rue Saint Catherine – not really past (Cours d’alsace-et-Lorraine and no further than Cours Victor Hugo

  • Place de la Bourse

  • Chartrons (a 10 min walk out however a village like feel – Look for Rue Sicard to see the Pavilion.

 

WHERE TO EAT


MY TOP PICKS

Wow the list could be longer, however here are my top places to definitely check out.


Talk about an extensive wine list on a tablet they hand you, the food and the views are all out of this world not to mention the eye capturing modern architectural ceiling design. The restaurant is located inside the wine museum – La Cité du Vin. When we went we made it a day event which included lunch at the restaurant and we were not disappointed.

Fun fact, this restaurants is actually owned by the same people from Le 7 Restaurant and the meat is cooked to perfection to melt in your mouth. This is a must visit!

Talk about popular to where they have a line going out the door and around the corner to taste Monsieur Paul Ginest de Saurs secret sauce! Which I might add has been unmatched and a mystery till this day. If you are looking for steak that has come with a history and a famous secret composition sauce look no further, because your taste buds will have died and gone to heaven after this mouthwatering experience.

This was highly recommended to us and unfortunately, we did not get a chance to try it out. Be there first and let me know your thoughts, I can not wait to hear the juicy details.

Oh la la located at Place De La Bourse with beautiful views when seated outdoors. The restaurant has two areas, one Gourmet which is a Michelin star restaurant that is prepared by the chef and his team (seating is limited). The other is the bistro side which is located on the first floor and still serving local foods and recipes. Reservations in advance is a must for this one.

Located in a cute square, you can grab an apero here and enjoy the view of the Disney Castle like monument – Porte Cailhau

Now this is not your touristy restaurant. We stumbled across this restaurant and we absolutely love it – a beautiful atmosphere with the setting of being in a cave, great food and wine selection with an amazing low cost! Make sure to check this place out!


Comment below if you have been to Bordeaux and if you found any hidden gems.


MERCI LES FILLES FOR STOPPING BY!

BISOUS BISOUS,

XXCR