Bordeaux is one of France’s top 10 cities but manages to be very relaxed. Our experience with the inhabitants of the city, the Bordelais, is that they are very kind. The city has a lot to offer but the size makes that most main attractions are on walking distance. Finally, there’s great shopping (and usually big discounts in July), great eating & drinking – we love Bordeaux.
Getting there & away
From the campsite, the most convenient way to get to Bordeaux is by taking the train from Marmande (about 30 mins by car, with enough space for free parking). We have the train times available in little booklets in the reception shed, but if you want to be sure that you have the most up-to-date schedule, visit the France railway website or download the SNCF Connect app. You can buy a ticket at the station, though in the summer months it may be worth it to look at the tickets available only in summer. We went to Bordeaux with a ‘Pass Escapade 2 Jours’, which meant we had a return ticket spread over 2 days for only €15. Most trains take about 48 mins.
There is also a bus from Eymet to Marmande which should connect to the train times, but we have never tried it.
Though train is shorter, easier and cheaper, you may of course prefer to take your car to Bordeaux. There are a few different routes to Bordeaux from Agnac. We prefer to take the D-roads instead of the highway. Before you reach Bordeaux, the D-roads lead you past St Emilion and a few antique shops, so it is a good route for a little roadtrip. The highway alternative (Marmande to A62) takes about 1,5 hour. The parking garages get more expensive as you get closer to the centre. We have parked in the Victor Hugo garage before, but please beware: only for those confident about squeezing their car in tiny spaces.
Moving around town
Bordeaux has several means of transport available: trams, buses and river boat buses. Downloading the Witick app (Apple | Android) means you can buy a ticket for all of these means of transport on your phone with your creditcard. We found the app user-friendly. Alternatively, you can buy billets at the machines at the tram stops. If you have used electric steps or bike sharing apps before, Uber and Tier are active in Bordeaux.
If you are planning on visiting the Cité du Vin, there’s a special ticket to combine your visit, entrance to 15 musea and unlimited public transport which may be useful because Cité du Vin is a 35 minutes walk from the city center. Find more information at the web site.
Things to do & see
- Cité du Vin
This is a main attraction in a beautiful building (built in the form of a cork screw), with everything you’ve always wanted to know about wine, and then a tasting at the end.
Amazingly impressive building, beautiful expositions, great experience all together. With a lovely – often quit – rooftop café-restaurant for a break after spending an hour or two wandering about getting inspired.
Where to stay
Hotel Konti**** by HappyCulture
Great location, in a building from the 18th century (on the outside at least), very comfortable beds, fancy all around. Definitely not a cheap hotel, so if you go, make sure you book on the hotel’s own website for the best rates (from around €130 per night).
Ibis Bordeaux Centre
If you want to follow the philosophy of: I only need a hotel so I have somewhere to sleep, the Ibis in the centre of Bordeaux is in a good location and generally offers good value for money.
Where to eat
Bordeaux has many, many lovely restaurants. For the best experiences, we suggest considering the formule/plat/menu du jour, because it is often good value for money and goes with the seasons. Trying a menu degustation often gets you the best the chef can do, though it may be a bit scary to not know what you’re going to be served, it usually turns out to be wonderful.
Whereas in many places in France, lunch is served from 12.30 and dinner from 19.30, we found that the Bordelais tend to start eating a bit later, around 13.00 and 20.30 respectively. Especially for dinner it is always a good idea to call ahead of time to reserve a table.
Places we tried and enjoyed:
Judging from the tasting menu when we visited (€48 for four courses + amuses-bouche), the chef has been educated in French cuisine and then decided to make it more interesting, more fun, less heavy. We found all of it delicious and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Marché des Capucins
Apparently locals like to have oysters here for brunch on Saturday morning. We haven’t seen them do it, but it sounds marvelous! Also great for just a croissant and coffee. Chez Jean-Mi has a lovely terrace and serves both oysters and croissants.
Sunday morning market on the quay
A scrumptious food market, great for a stroll but also brunch/lunch, or to find all the ingredients you need for a picknick in the park a bit later in the day (roasted chicken leg, beautiful baguette, pretty little goat cheese – happiness).
Where to drink
Bordeaux calls itself #capitaleduvin (capital of wine). Measured by the number of wine bars per capita, they are probably right. The Bordelais are proud of their wines, so wherever you’ll probably find a wine you’ll enjoy.
Le Puy Paulin, Le 5
Great examples of terraces for apéro or after dinner drinks. Wines by the glass, the famous Lillet (founded near Bordeaux) and cocktails. During weekend nights, Le 5 transforms in a bit of a club like place. These are just examples, there’s many more to find. Just pick a terrace in a place you like (but maybe worth to have a peek at the prices before).