Bordeaux is known as one of the best wine regions in the world, but it is also a great destination for a city break. With scenic surroundings and plenty to do, it can be the perfect base for exploring the neighbouring area on an extended trip or the ideal location for a long weekend within the city limits.
Although the Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport is mainly served by domestic flights, there's a number of non-stop services that fly from London every day. EasyJet have flights from both Gatwick and Luton, whilst Ryanair can get you there from Stanstead and British Airways solely from Gatwick. The flight time is just over an hour and a half.
When you arrive at the airport, there are several buses that can take you into the city centre. Two options are the Express bus, which runs every 45 minutes and stops on demand, and the number 1 bus which will drop you off outside the town hall.
Alternatively, you can arrive in Bordeaux via train. However, this will involve taking the Eurostar into Paris, transferring to the station at Montparnasse, and then taking another three-hour journey into Gare Saint Jean in Bordeaux.
Where To Stay
The two-star Acanthe Hotel is the perfect budget option for your Bordeaux city break. The best thing about this clean and efficient accommodation is its location, for which it has earned praise from sources such as TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and Michelin. You'll find it a mere stone's throw from the river, right in the centre of the Old Town, and just a two-minute walk from the Place de la Bourse tram stop. There are 20 rooms in total, which start at €76 per night for two people sharing a standard room. Free Wi-Fi is available and breakfast can be added for an extra €8.
This hotel, in the Chartrons district of Bordeaux, is a great mid-range choice. The ten bedrooms are all unique and offer a sense of minimalism combined with flashes of quirky décor and furniture. When staying here, you will be close to the trendy bars and restaurants that have taken over the empty warehouses in this part of town and access to the rest of Bordeaux is given via not one but two nearby tram stops. Rooms can be found for approximately £86 a night.
If you are looking for 5-star accommodation, then look no further than the modern and luxurious Hotel Burdigala. You will find yourself close to the Notre-Dame church as well as the theatre, in what is a very central location. From the regular rooms up to the suites, all of which were refurbished in 2011, you'll find sophisticated décor and plenty of space to make yourself at home. Unlimited Wi-Fi is complimentary, whilst the menu in the glass-roofed restaurant features delicious dishes and more than a few opportunities to try some of the world-famous wine.
The easiest way to get around the city centre is on foot, as the majority of the Old Town area is pedestrianised. There's also the opportunity to rent a bicycle if you prefer to get around on two wheels. However, if you want to take your explorations further than the epicentre of Bordeaux, the three tram lines will be able to offer links to most areas of the city. When it comes to crossing the Garonne River that runs through its heart, you can use tram line A to cross at the Pont de Pierre or take the scenic route via 'Le Bus du Fleuve' (ferry).
Where To Eat
Anyone looking to try traditional French food in a traditional French bistro should head straight for Bistro l'Exploit, as long as, that is, you have booked in advance. During busy periods, the restaurant can be fully booked a few weeks in advance, but the accommodating staff will always try to squeeze you in if they can. Traditional dishes include oxtail, escargot (snails), scallops and duck and there's the choice to sit on the outdoor terrace if you wish.
Le Vin Rue Neuve
With a name that translates as 'the new wine street', Le Vin Rue Neuve is definitely a place where you can work your way through some of the local vintages. Located in the historic part of the city, the food inside the building is nicely juxtaposed with its exterior. Modern flavours fill your pallet as you choose from dishes that have been made with only the best local ingredients. If you are feeling really adventurous, opt for chef Antony Barcelona's 'Carte Blanche' tasting menu and let him ply you with some of his favourite plates.
Restaurant Joël Robuchon
Located within the plush Hotel Grand Maison, this restaurant is the perfect setting for a celebration during your Bordeaux city break. It offers more of a gastronomic tour than a dining experience, which is exactly what you would expect from a chef with more Michelin stars than anyone else in the world. There are three different dining rooms, plus a terrace, and the tradition of carving meat and fish at the table is alive and well. The tasting menu, which costs an eye-watering €295 without drinks, features classic dishes with a contemporary twist and you probably won't taste better mash potato anywhere else.
Top 3 Things To Do
Set a Course for La Place de la Bourse
The Place de la Bourse can be part of a scenic stroll along the Garonne River. The building itself houses the city's rather mundane Chamber of Commerce and Industry but it is very easy on the eye. Along with the fountain and Miroir d'Eau, the area contributes to a romantic and historic part of the city known as the Port of the Moon and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Incidentally, the Miroir d'Eau is a reflecting pool set in front of the Place de la Bourse, which changes from perceived granite slabs to a fairytale impersonation of the building in a mist-filled second.
Have A Grape Time
The many wine bars and restaurants in the city centre will offer numerous chances to taste some of the wines that make this region a producer of some of the highest quality vintages in the world, but to get a real taste for the Bordeaux wine region you need to head outside the city limits. Tours from companies such as Rustic Wines and Bordovino will take you to the vineyards and chateaux in villages and districts such as St Emilion, Fronsac and Pomerol.
A Pew With A View
Located close to the river bank, the Basilica of Saint Michael offers beautiful sights inside and stunning views from its bell tower. After you have admired the pulpit that is carved to reflect Saint Michael slaying the dragon, you can climb the 243 steps to the top of the tower and gaze out over the spectacular city streets below. Entrance is only €5 or free if you can prove you are under 26 years of age.
As you can see, Bordeaux is a city with wine at its heart but which can offer plenty more besides. If you would like to book your city break with Fred.\ Holidays, call our friendly team today.