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Bordeaux, France

You'll be raising your glass many times in Bordeaux, which is renowned for its wines, considered among the best in the world. It is the capital of the department Gironde in the region Aquitaine. After years of neglect, the former wet docks are the country's new hot spot, with some cafés, gardens, and museums springing up all the time. A lively university community of over 60,000, (Bordeaux Campus is the largest in France) establishes that Bordeaux is about more than just wine.

Bordeaux is considered a very tolerant and relaxed place - no one will bother you about your political beliefs, religion, or sexual orientation. The cultural, artistic, and music scenes are very vibrant. The city was ruled by the English for a long time, which is why Bordeaux seems to have an "English flair."
Bordeaux is often referred to as "Little Paris" and the rivalry between the "Bordelais" (people from Bordeaux) and "Parisiens"... Read more

Bordeaux, France

Destination:

You'll be raising your glass many times in Bordeaux, which is renowned for its wines, considered among the best in the world. It is the capital of the department Gironde in the region Aquitaine. After years of neglect, the former wet docks are the country's new hot spot, with some cafés, gardens, and museums springing up all the time. A lively university community of over 60,000, (Bordeaux Campus is the largest in France) establishes that Bordeaux is about more than just wine.

Bordeaux is considered a very tolerant and relaxed place - no one will bother you about your political beliefs, religion, or sexual orientation. The cultural, artistic, and music scenes are very vibrant. The city was ruled by the English for a long time, which is why Bordeaux seems to have an "English flair."
Bordeaux is often referred to as "Little Paris" and the rivalry between the "Bordelais" (people from Bordeaux) and "Parisiens" is a hot subject so that you may experience some heated arguments on the subject during your stay.

Geography

Bordeaux is a flat city, built on the banks of the

Garonne River

. It is also the largest French city by area and geographically one of the largest in Europe. The Garonne merges a dozen kilometers below the city with another river, the

Dordogne River

to form the Gironde Estuary, which is the biggest estuary in France.
The city center is located west and south of the Garonne. To the east are a few hills - the only ones in the vicinity. These hills mark the beginning of an industrial zone and suburbs. Because it is a flat city, bicycles make excellent modes of transport, especially as the city has more than 580 km of cycle tracks. Bordeaux is among the most economically dynamic cities in France.
Due to the weakness of the subsoil, there are no skyscrapers in Bordeaux, which explains its sprawl. The center of the town has retained its traditional stone mansions and smart terraces, hence the reason behind the city being called "Little Paris."
Modern buildings can be found to the west (administrative center) and south (university) of the city.

Climate

Bordeaux's climate is classified as a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb), or in the Trewartha climate classification system as temperate oceanic or Do climate. Although summers are too cool, Bordeaux however, lies close to the humid subtropical climate zone.

Winters are cool because of the prevalence of westerly winds from the Atlantic. Summers are mild to warm and long due to the influence from the Bay of Biscay (surface temperature reaches 21 to 22 °C (70 to 72 °F)). The average seasonal winter temperature is 7.1 °C (44.8 °F), but recent winters have been warmer than this. Frosts in the winter are commonplace, occurring several times during a winter, but snowfall is very rare, occurring only once every three years. The average summer seasonal temperature is 20.7 °C (69.3 °F). The summer of 2003 set a record with an average temperature of 23.3 °C (73.9 °F).

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Bordeaux, France: Port Information


Small cruise ships (less than 250 meters long) can dock in downtown Bordeaux, and cruise travelers can reach the city center on foot.
Large ocean-going liners dock in Le Verdon situated at the mouth of Gironde. It takes about two hours to get to the city on a bus.

Get around Bordeaux, France


Bordeaux is quite a big city; however, most of the interesting attractions are in the town center. It is not recommended that visitors drive as it is always a hassle to park (and car parks are expensive), and there are often traffic jams in the narrow, old streets of the city.
The most interesting way to explore the city is by walking. As most of the town center is a 'pedestrian area,' this is easy to do. If you like sports, you can rent roller-skates or a bike (see below), or you can make your way in town using the various bus lines. A small ferry boat permits to go from the western shore of the river to the eastern shore, and vice-versa.
Three efficient tramway lines are also available (A, B, and C).

By bus

The bus network is organized around a few main places, where it is possible to take buses to almost every destination in the city :

  • Gare Saint-Jean (railway station, bus lines going to the town center, university, and north of town, TBC agency),
  • Place de la Victoire (bus lines going to the town center, to the railway station, to the University, north, and south-west of town,
  • Place Gambetta (bus lines going to la Victoire, the railway station, west, north-west, north of town, TBC agency ).
  • Quinconces (TBC agency).

Single fare tickets can be purchased from the driver on the bus although you shouldn't expect to receive change. The best thing to do is buy packages from TBC Agencies (French: Espace TBC) at Gare Saint-Jean, Gambetta, and Quinconces; all trips are good for one hour of unlimited transfers - you must validate your ticket each time you change buses/trams. You can also purchase these tickets from the automated machines at the tramway stops, all machines will accept coins, and some of them will accept chip debit/credit cards. 

Avoid the buses during peak hours (8-10 AM, 4-7 PM) as the town center is usually totally jammed (and cars often block bus tracks), and buses are overcrowded.

By ferry

Le Bus du Fleuve, as it is called, links the western and eastern parts of the city by a small cruise on the river. It is managed by the CGFTE, and you can, therefore, ride the ferry using a standard bus ticket. The bus goes from the Southern part of Quai Richelieu to the Place Aristide Briand, very close to the Aquitaine Bridge (one of the must-sees in Bordeaux).

By electric bus and tramway

A new tramway serves the town, crossing the Garonne via the 

Pont de Pierre

. A distinctive feature of the tramway is that within the inner city, it has no overhead wires as it utilizes a ground-level power supply system.
The electric bus, called la navette du centre-ville, is the only public transportation on pedestrian roads. There are no bus stops for this one: to board an electric bus, wave your hand to the driver - he will stop the bus and let you on. When you want to go out, just tell the driver.
All the maps, fares and times are on the TBC Web site (in French). Also, maps and times can be easily accessed with Google Maps, just select route "By public transit" when getting directions.

By bicycle

As was mentioned previously Bordeaux is very flat and has lots of bike lanes, so it is very easy to get around the city by bicycle. The city added a city-wide bike-sharing program called VCUB 6(similar to Vélib in Paris), it is a cheap and easy way to see the city.

What to see in Bordeaux, France


Bordeaux is a historic city with many tourist attractions. The main districts are briefly presented here, which are listed according to their distance from the railway station.

  • Les Quais — Great for going for a nice walk on the shores of the Garonne, enjoying a ride on a ferry boat, viewing a stunning landscape over the bridges of Bordeaux, or dancing the night away in the city's many nightclubs. The Quais, also known as the Port of the Moon, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Aquitaine Bridge is an architectural achievement unique in France.
  • La Victoire — Historical monuments meet student life and bars.
  • The Pedestrian Center — If you plan on shopping, or are looking for cultural activities, Bordeaux has a lot to offer - and it starts right here.
  • Gambetta Square — The rich districts of Bordeaux start north - this part of the town is nicknamed "Little Paris."
  • Quinconces Square — Be sure to check out the fountain monument to the Girondins, a group of moderate, bourgeois National Assembly deputies during the French Revolution.
  • Meriadeck — The administrative center of Bordeaux, with one of the biggest libraries in France.
  • Do not miss the Victory Arch (Roman architecture), at the center of La Victoire and a great example of the town's Roman roots.
  • Relax and take a picnic in the lush Public Gardens, north of Gambetta square.
  • The Girondins memorial on the Quinconces square is a fitting tribute to the Girondin députés that were guillotined by the Robespierre.

Museums

  • Musée D'Art Contemporain (CAPC), 7, rue Ferrère. Tuesday to Sunday 11 AM-6 PM (to 8 PM Wednesday), closed Monday. Worth a visit if you are interested in Modern Art. The Richard Long slate line-up on the roof is a permanent feature. Exhibits are always changing, and a museum is an inspiring place for installations. 
  • Musée D'Aquitaine, 20 Cours Pasteur, ☎ +33 5 56 01 51 00. 11 AM-6 PM Tue-Sun. A stunning museum that exhibits Gallo-Roman statues and relics dating back 25,000 years. 
  • Musée du Vin et du Négoce, Cellier des Chartrons 41 Rue Borie, ☎ +33 5 56 90 19 13, e-mail: musee41@gmail.com. 1000-1800. Old equipment & new technology from 2000 years of wine production in the region, plus tastings. 

What to do in Bordeaux, France


  • Have a walk along the Sainte-Catherine street in the Pedestrian Center and enjoy the scenery.
  • Consider crossing the bridges or taking the ferry boat over the river.
  • Climb the 243 steps of the tower of Saint-Michel, and enjoy the panoramic view of Bordeaux.
  • Spend some time at the Miroir D'eau (water mirror) at the border of the river. Now and then, it is filled with 2 cm of water, alternated with a cloud of mist.
  • Have a drink and a dance at one of the many bars or clubs in Les Quais or La Victoire.
  • Watch the ducks play in the big public park north of the center and escape from the city at the Jardin Botanique, Bordeaux's Botanical Garden. Around since 1855, the botanical garden is the perfect place to take a walk around its many paths or sit and relax. Guided tours are on offer, as well as occasional workshops and activities for children.
  • Bordeaux gardens open: end March to end October - 8 AM to 8 PM; end October to end March - 8 AM to 6 PM. Bordeaux gardens admission is free.
    Fly a jet fighter. You can fly the L39 Albatros from Bordeaux International Airport.

Taste wine

Touring the vineyards and sampling the local wines are one of the greatest pleasures when visiting Bordeaux. It is the second-largest wine-growing region in the world and produces over 800 million bottles annually. It produces some of the best and most prestigious wines in the world, some of the most famous being:

Tours are available through many operators. Alternately, call ahead for reservations. Note that Haut Brion and Mouton are closed for renovation in 2010, while Latour only accepts serious collectors and professionals.
The annual summer wine festivals are held in tandem with the "Bordeaux-fête-le-fleuve" celebrating the river, land, and international community.
There are many tour operators for this region of France. They can organize your complete tour (including travel to and from Bordeaux and France), or they can arrange visits to wineries and château for you.

Sports

  • Watch football (soccer) at F.C. Girondins. They play in Ligue 1, the top flight of French football, and often qualify for European tournaments. Games against big rivals (e.g. Marseille, PSG & Lyon) usually sell out, so buy tickets in advance from the club website. For other games you should have no difficulty buying on the day. Girondins have played since 2015 at the Nouveau Stade (or "Matmut Atlantique"), 20 km west of Bordeaux in the suburb of Le Haillan. Get there on Tram C to Parc des Expositions and walk 400 m, or Tram B to Brandenburg then take the shuttle bus or bus 7 or 32 from Les Aubiers.
  • Watch rugby union at Union Bordeaux Bègles, who play in the Top 14, the top flight of French rugby. They were formed in 2006 by the merger of Stade Bordelais and Bègles. They usually play at Stade Chaban-Delmas, west of city center on the inner ring-road. The former Bègles (Andre Moga) stadium is nowadays just a training ground.
  • Watch ice hockey at Boxers de Bordeaux, who play in Ligue Magnus, the French top professional league. They play at the Meriadeck ice-rink.

Bordeaux Cricket Club play at Château Giscours in Labarde, 25 km north of the city; attendance is free.

Explore the city on wheels as Bordeaux is a good city for roller-skating (or roller-blading) and other "skating sports."

What to eat and drink in Bordeaux, France


Eat

Gastronomy has a very important place in the city, which is full of restaurants of all kinds. French restaurants provide dishes from almost every part of the country, and there are a lot of Asian, African or Arabian restaurants.

  • Cafe du Port, 1, quail Deschamps, ☎ +33 5 56 77 81 18. It's dining with the ultimate view, the Left Bank on one side and the Pont de Pierre on the other. But it's not just the views that draw customers here in droves, the food's pretty good too. Especially considering that the chef is the famed Phillipe Techoire. Under his command, you'll feast on beef rib roast, glass eye, and in the winter, roast pig's feet with mustard. Enjoy! 
  • L'entrecôte, 4 Cours du 30 juillet, ☎ +33 5 56 81 76 10. A famous restaurant, where you can eat a piece of meat served with a secret sauce. No reservation but the queues can often be long.
  • Cassolette Cafe, 20 Place de la Victoire, ☎ +33 5 56 92 94 96. Well priced and hearty food. Tick your items off on the menu placemat. If you're hungry, consider trying "la menu goutatout" - a choice of any 5 small dishes ("cassolettes") including desserts.
  • Chez Greg, 30-31, quail de la Monnaine, ☎ +33 5 56 31 30 30. Serving tasty dishes such as a tartine of red mullet, the ambiance of this restaurant puts customers at ease with its Philippe Starck chairs and walls lined with wine bottles. Speaking of wine, the wine bar upstairs is great for pre and post-dinner tastings.
  • Couleurs Cafe, 28, rue Pere-Louis-de-Jabrun, ☎ +33 5 56 48 28 58. It's the perfect little French bistro where you can take a well-earned pause from the day's activities and graze on some tasty light fare. The salads with the homemade bread rolls are a great choice, or you can indulge in some of the decadent cakes on offer.
  • FERNAND, 7, quai de la Douane, ☎ +33 5 56 81 23 40, e-mail: fernand-bordeaux@orange.fr. every day for lunch and dinner. An authentic bistro next to the "Place de la Bourse", on the waterfront in the old Bordeaux : an old wooden decor and a very pleasant terrace in front of the Garonne and the "Miroir d'eau"; you can enjoy a French cooking who follows seasons with beautiful products like seafood, oysters, wild fishes from Arcachon, "Blond d'Aquitaine" beef, etc., all of those, served by a warm and pleasant welcome.
  • La Tupina, 6, rue Pas-de-la-Monnaine, ☎ +33 5 56 91 56 37. Regional cuisine at its best. Fresh local produce served generously and heartily. Meals are served in a Basque ambiance, with country tablecloths and wood chairs. Try the corn-fed Landes fowl, and you'll understand why this earned La Tupina the Second Best Bistro in the world by the International Herald Tribune.
  • L'estaquade, Quai de Dueyries, ☎ +33 5 57 54 02 50. Situated on the Right Bank of the river (it is the building that just out over the water on stilts) you will get a great view of the Bordeaux waterfront at the same time as a delicious meal. Starters, Main Courses, and Desserts.
  • Restaurant Soléna, 5, rue Chauffour (10 minutes from Centreville, Meriadeck, Hotel Mercure, Hotel Budigala, Tram Line A), ☎ +33 5 57 53 28 06. Dinner, Wednesday- Saturday. Lunch and Dinner, Sunday. Gastronomic restaurant owned and operated by a Franco-American couple dedicated to bringing farm fresh, local, sustainable produce of Southwest France to the table. Everything from the sauces to the ice cream and pastries are made in-house. Dining room is contemporary and organic, accented by Bordeaux limestone and French oak tables. Service is warm, friendly, without pretentiousness. Menu changes frequently according to season.
  • Chez Julio, 4 rue de la Maison Daurade, ☎ +33 5 56 52 44 65, e-mail: chez-julio33@gmail.com. A famous restaurant, where you can eat a large variety of traditional South-West dishes.

Drink

Bordeaux is lively during the day and continues throughout the night. If you're looking for a bar to hang out with friends or to enjoy watching a football match, head for La Victoire, as most of the pubs and bars of the town are here. Virtually, all the shops in the surroundings of this area are bars, and you'll likely be able to find one that suits your needs.

If you prefer dancing or clubbing, most of the night-clubs are on the Quais, near the train station. From rock to disco, dance to techno, you also have a lot of choices.

  • Dick Turpin's, 72, Rue du Loup, ☎ +33 5 56 48 07 52, e-mail: dickturpin@orange.fr. One of the oldest English pubs in Bordeaux, popular with young and old alike. Good music, no TV.
  • El Chuchumbe, 6, rue Causserouge, ☎ +33 5 56 31 25 88. Best place to go for salsa dance, head there around midnight when bodies really start shaking on the dance floor. They serve great mojitos as well to complement the mood.
  • Le Frog and Rosbif, 23, Rue Ausone. English pub near La Garonne with an all-English staff. A popular hangout for those who want to catch football or rugby matches.
  • Le Break, 23, Rue de Candale. A popular hipster-like bar just outside la place de la victoire which plays great music and attracts a younger crowd. Arrive early if you want to get a table during the weekend.
  • Xing-Xing, 20, Rue Piliers de Tutelle. An animé/manga themed bar with a very fun atmosphere.
  • Le Café Brun, 45, Rue Saint Rémi. An old-looking but very cozy bar with a huge offer of Belgian beers and Whiskies.
  • Shadow Lounge International, 5, rue Cabanac, ☎ +33 5 56 49 36 93. The place to go for the young and trendy, Shadow possess a certain sexiness to its decor that is very appealing, even the restrooms are marble. The DJ spins the latest tunes while the hip clientele sip on very expensive drinks.

Shopping in Bordeaux, France


Bordeaux has made its wealth out of the trade, and the local economic system relies heavily on shops and trading halls. The Pedestrian Center is full of stores of all kinds, from clothes to art, craftworks, food, and wine, etc. If you're looking for luxury items, head to Gambetta square and its surroundings.
Don't hesitate to buy some local music - Bordeaux music groups are on the rise! Check out Kap Bambino, an electronic music duo formed by singer Caroline Martial and beat-smith boyfriend, Orion Bouvier.
Clothing is less expensive than in Paris, so wear comfortable shoes and head to Rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian precinct in Europe and the best place for shopping. For some cheap second-hand and vintage clothes, check out a shop called KiloChic on 40 Cours de la Somme. There are also a few AMOS second-hand stores in the city that offer a nice selection of second-hand and vintage stuff.
Of course, you can hardly leave Bordeaux, without taking home some of its beloved wine. Make sure you're aware of the customs rules at the airport.

Safety in Bordeaux, France


Bordeaux is not a city with a high crime rate. If you respect some simple rules, you shouldn't have any problems.

  • Beware of pickpockets, mostly in crowded buses and in the pedestrian streets. Do not leave any luggage out of view as it might disappear. If you're taking the bus with a backpack, it's better putting it between your feet than keeping it on your back.
  • Do not go to clubs or bars alone at night. If you are meeting with friends, meet outside the bar/club. It's easier to get inside when you're a pack.
  • As another general rule, do not accept drinks offered by people you don't know, as some people may drug you and abuse you afterward. There were several cases reported in Bordeaux. Take drinks directly at the bar or from the waiter.

Language spoken in Bordeaux, France


French is the official language. English is widely spoken.

LOCAL TIME

1:37 pm
November 20, 2019
Europe/Paris

CURRENT WEATHER

7.21 °C / 44.978 °F
overcast clouds
Thu

8.01 °C/46 °F
moderate rain
Fri

9.79 °C/50 °F
moderate rain
Sat

11.15 °C/52 °F
moderate rain
Sun

9.61 °C/49 °F
light rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

EUR

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