Bordeaux Region Travel Guide
Victor Hugo once said, “Take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux.” After all, the 18th-century beauty of this city was one inspiration for the parts of Paris. Exploring the namesake city is just one of things to do in Bordeaux. “Enrolling” at the Ecole du Vin is the perfect addition to things to do in Bordeaux. This city-sponsored program offers weekend tours into the wine country, as well as two-hour tasting courses at a posh-looking (but surprisingly affordable) wine bar. The Museum of Fine Arts, in Bordeaux, is in a former archbishop's residence, and includes two wings of paintings by 17th-century masters, and another wing with 19th- and 20th-century painters, such as Matisse and Picasso. On a different note, La Musée National des Douanes—located along the waterfront in an 18th-century palace—celebrates the customs service. Exhibits include the history of taxes, tariffs, and border control, and feature such interesting objets précieux (national treasures) as calculating machines and smugglers’ weapons. What to do in Bordeaux when you’re ready for a break from wine? Eat candy. Darricau, a confectioner in the city of Bordeaux, churns out whimsy by the boxful, such as buttery fleur de sel caramels. Don’t miss the paves de Bordeaux ("Bordeaux cobblestones")—praline cubes and wine-soaked raisins that have been dipped in chocolate and rolled in cinnamon sugar.
The former 17th-century church has been transformed into a bar/cinema/art complex. On sunny days in the late afternoon, the outdoor terrace is bathed in sunlight, and the crowds descend to bask in the warmth.
Set in a former warehouse, the museum shows a rotating collection of art from the 1960's to the present.
Château Cos d'Estournel is one of the top Haut-Médoc wine producers in Bordeaux’s St.-Estèphe region. The property sits on 200 acres with an impressive, yet somewhat quirky 19th century château (hand-carved doors imported from Zanzibar and Asian-style pagodas).
This confectioner churns out whimsy by the boxful, such as mountains of buttery fleur de sel caramels, and paves de Bordeaux ("Bordeaux cobblestones"), cubes of praline and wine-soaked raisins dipped in chocolate and rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Architect Victor Louis' neo-classical theater has a monumental façade with 12 Corinthian columns and a sweeping staircase that was the inspiration for the Palais Garnier in Paris. This and the Trianon at Versailles are the only original wooden theaters in France.
La Musée National des Douanes is France’s National Customs Museum. Located along the waterfront in an 18th-century palace at Place de la Bourse, the museum explores the wide-ranging arm of the customs service.
Private excursions, customized by a local oenologist.
The best way to buy wine is to visit the small vineyards in the area. But if you just want to hit a shop with a varied inventory, try this huge warehouse, which carries nearly 1,000 selections from all over the region.
Bordeaux fussy and overpriced? Not at this bar run by the region’s wine council. Architect Françoise Bousquet has appointed the soaring Neoclassical space with whimsical pebble-shaped chairs and original artwork, including a grape-themed Aubusson tapestry.
More than just a winery, Château Smith Haut Lafitte is a family home, a hotel with a natural mineral springs spa, and one of the most praised winemakers in Bordeaux.
The boutique for urban clothes horses carries women's fashions from Martin Margiela, Maria Calderara, and Ann Demeulemeester, as well as international labels, such as Yohji Yamamoto.
A rotating roster of guest DJs sets the tone at the tiny zinc bar with a loyal following. The festivities often spill into the street. Late night, intrepid partiers move on to the dockland discos at the eastern fringe of the port.
The city-sponsored program offers wine-country weekend tours and onsite two-hour tasting courses at a posh-looking but bargain-priced wine bar.
Just off the D2 highway—known as the Route des Châteaux—this 128-acre winery is easily recognizable by its two conical turrets rising behind a wrought-iron railing.
The company operates throughout France and Italy, but the shining jewel is the Bordeaux Prestige Tour. The Bordeaux Prestige Tour is offered three times annually, usually in May and June. The Caveat: The cultural components of these trips are limited.