Wine capital of the world? Book me a ticket to Bordeaux!

Ah France, the country of delicious food, great fashion, sexy language and of course amazing wine. I really don’t know how and why I haven’t visited more. I must be out of my mind. But lucky me… Opportunity knocked at my door and I had my tickets booked in less than a week: final destination Bordeaux. I’ve been going back and forward on jaunting to Paris for a while now. Thank you Facebook for reminding me… 9 [NINE!!!] years passed since my last trip to the city of lights. So it was the perfect time to plan a sweet and short French experience – 4 days in Bordeaux and 2 days in Paris.

I booked tickets for Paris and decided to fly from there to Bordeaux. The flight is just 1h and actually cheaper than the train. Bottom line: 30€ less and 1h faster. Fair enough I had to change airports from Bauvais to Olry, but all in all it was a much better option.

Welcome to Bordeaux

First thing’s first. They make sure you know you have arrived in the world capital of wine. As soon as you step foot outside of the airport gates you are greeted by grapevines… real, fully stocked grapevines. To be fair, I did arrive in Bordeaux when the grapes were almost ready to start their journey towards becoming the delicious red drink of the gods.

Since I arrived pretty late in the afternoon, I decided to stick around Bordeaux before heading to my accommodation. By the way… Best place to stay in Bordeaux [region]? How about a Chateau outside the city, in the middle of a fully ripe vineyard. But I get ahead of myself. Coming back to the city, let me tell you what I enjoyed most in this short trip.

Miroir D’Eau & La Place de la Bourse

It was almost time for the sun to set and this was the ideal scenario to start my visit at Place de la Bourse and Miroir D’Eau. The views here are absolutely spectacular. This is the biggest urban water mirror in the world with 3,450 sq m of reflecting surface. Built in 2006, it has been included in the contemporary UNESCO heritage and it is a photographer’s paradise.

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Shadows play in the Miroir d’Eau, Bordeaux
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Lab relaxing after a playful run through Miroir D’Eau

In the past 20 years, the city has really changed its face from the clogged streets, dirty limestone facades from pollution and abandoned warehouses blocking the view of the Garonne. Miroir D’Eau was built on top of one of these warehouses that was actually buried underground, offering a spectacular view of the Place de la Bourse:  a beautiful contrast of an 18 century building, reflecting in a contemporary work of art.

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Place de la Bourse and the sunset reflecting in the Miroir d’Eau

La Cité du Vin

Opened in 2016, La Cité du Vin has to be the best museum in the world. First of all… it’s a museum dedicated entirely to wine. Second, in the price of the ticket you get to enjoy a wine tasting with an amazing panorama over the city. And last but not least, it is hands down the best experience you can have in a museum dedicated to all your five sense. I couldn’t resume myself to a paragraph so I decided to write an entire post about it. Check out all the interesting details and more photos in this post: Bordeaux must see: La Cité du Vin.

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Discover a world of wine in La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux

Darwin Eco-sytème & Bordeaux street art

You know I’m a sucker for street art, but I would have never imagined that in a city like Bordeaux, I would find a street art Paradise! Hands down some of the best murals I’ve seen in my life are in Darwin Eco-sytème, on the right bank of the Garonne.

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Welcome to Darwin Eco-Sytème

There are 20,000 sq m of former military barracks that have been converted in what is a complete opposite of the classic French architecture found of the left bank of the river. Darwin Eco-sytème is the hip place where you will find an organic restaurant, indoor & outdoor skate parks, a bike polo field and some amazing street art.

One of my favorite tags is the yellow fox designed by David Selor. It reminded me a little of the Bucharest urban tag Aeul. Anyway check the gallery below for some absolutely beautiful street art. I could lose a few hours in this place and be mesmerized by all the murals.

The Cathedral & Pey-Berland Tower

I am one of the least religious people I know, but I have a real fascination towards worship places. And Saint André Gothic Cathedral did not disappoint. Though the original building was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096, only one wall remains standing. The royal gates date back in the 13th century, but most of the current construction was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. Under current refurbishment you can clearly see the impact of pollution on the limestone walls.  It’s been an ongoing cleaning process throughout the whole city for over 20 years and the results are remarkable.

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Cathedral Saint Andre, Bordeaux

Due to the weight of the structure itself and the vibrations from the tenor bell, the Pey-Berland Tower was added later to the site, as a separate building. And, like all great views, you’ll have to go through a little workout of 233 steps to get to the top.

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Pey-Berland Tower, Bordeaux
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Bordeaux view from the top of Pey-Berland Tower. Worth the workout.

Saint-Pierre and the old city gates

What people don’t realize that the actual location of Saint-Pierre Church is the former inland port of medieval Bordeaux. And yes, it is located behind Place de la Bourse. So back in the 12th century the city was looking a lot different than what we see today. Saint-Pierre Church was built in the 15th-16th century on the site of the old Gallo-Roman port.

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Can you believe that this place was a port?!

Starting with the 18th century, the walls that were separating the district from Garonne river were torn down. It was a new beginning for Bordeaux, a golden era for growth and the neo-classical architecture that we see today.  The only two gates still standing today are Porte Cailhau and La Grosse Cloche, two amazing edifices that seem to be taken out of a Disney movie.

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Medieval reminiscence- Porte Cailhau, Bordeaux

La Grosse Cloche not only hosts one of the oldest fire bells in France, but it used to also serve as a prison. However, from the calligraphic scribbles on the walls that are still visible today, this was more of a prison for high-class citizens.

The interesting particularity of La Grosse Cloche is the clock and the solar dial. It shows not only the time, but also the month, the solar time and the phases of the moon. This graphic display was easier to comprehend by the less educated people, who needed this information to correlate it with agriculture. Another interesting particularity that you will observe on the display is the the way Roman numeral “four” is written. This particular form was simply adopted for pure esthetics.

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La Grosse Cloche, Bordeaux
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La Grosse Cloche detail: clock, moon phases and Bordeaux coat of arms

Keep your eyes peeled

I have this keen eye for details and Bordeaux is THE city to keep your eyes open… Why? Because it’s all in the details. That’s where you’ll find the most interesting stories.

Bordeaux coat of arms: The symbol for the city itself has a whole story behind it. In the coat of arms you can pretty much “read” the history of Bordeaux and what it stands for. On the top you have the “fleur-de-lys” which is the symbol for the French Royalty. Underneath you can see the lion, that symbolizes the time spent under the British rule. The fortifications represent the medieval period of Bordeaux, with the famous Grosse Cloche gate in the middle. To finish off the coat of arms is of course Garonne and the crescent mood – the shape in which the river flows through the city, hence the city’s nickname: Le Port de la Lune.

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Bordeaux coat of arms

Les Mascarones: In Bordeaux all eyes are upon you… literally. More than 3,000 unique masks decorate the buildings and fountains of the city. Les Mascarones started to appear at the end of the 16th century. If you give a close look to the stone masks you will find pirates with coins, ancient Gods like Neptune, Bacchus (I mean we are in the wine capital) and Ceres, satyrs and other mythological creatures, slaves and merchants, Christian, Jewish and masonic symbols. All of these masks are not at all at random. They represent a mirror of the society, its customs and tastes at the time.

I feel like I could tell you so many more fascinating stories about Bordeaux. It’s one of those places that I’m putting on my “visit again” list. I feel I have so much more left to discover. In the next post I’ll tell you what you can also do in the region of Bordeaux, because let’s face it… except for the wine museum I haven’t really talked about actual wine. And you don’t come in this region and not go for wine tasting and Chateau visits.

Enjoyed it? Pin it! 🙂

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Jaunting tips

  • Get the city pass. You will benefit from free public transport, free entrance to 20 different museums and attractions, and free access to La Cité du Vin (if you get there before 12 PM). More info about the prices you can find on the Bordeaux Tourism Board site.
  • If you rent a car to visit also the area, park outside the center. You can find prices as low as 4€ for the whole day.
  • Take your time to stroll through the city and observe the architecture and the details.
  • Take a walking tour and find out more of Bordeaux secrets.
  • Fastest way to get to Bordeaux from Paris is by airplane. Check the prices, before booking, it can be cheaper than taking the train.

39 Replies to “Wine capital of the world? Book me a ticket to Bordeaux!”

  1. Bordeaux is definitely on my bucket list. I just spent a week in Paris but did other day trips since I want to spend a few days in this area. I love wine so it’s a must! Very interesting history and the architecture is as beautiful as Paris. Can’t wait to read about the wine!

    1. You’ll love it for sure. And the mix of classic french architecture on one bank of the river and modern street art like on the other side it’s something I really did not expect to find.

  2. I have been planning to go to Bordeaux since a while now. I love traveling to beautiful wine regions like this. I am going to save this as a guide. Thank you!

    1. Hope by next Saturday to finish the region post also. There are amazing things to do and see in the area too.

  3. Awesome post! I love your photos, they made me want to go back. My visit in Bordeaux was way too short. Still, I’m glad I finally got a chance to go there! I’m looking forward to reading your post about the region. We only went to Saint Emilion and loved it.

    1. I had 4 days in total in the region and still felt it was not enough. Saint Emilion was amazing. It’s one of the stops on my next post. I have chateaux, wine tasting and the Atlantic Ocean coming.

  4. France is always such a good idea 😍
    I love your picture – you have a great eye 🤘🏻🙌🏻

  5. I’ve always heard so many positive things about Bordeaux, but have still to discover it. The old architecture looks really impressive, but I like the quirky street art too.
    How much time would you recommend to plan for the city itself (without the wine region)? Thanks

    1. I think a week-end should be enough. I had to go in and out of the city, since I was staying at a vineyard, about 1h from the city. In 4 days I covered the region and the city. But I strongly recommend to take advantage of the region and do also a wine tasting tour in the region. It would be a shame not to.

  6. I love the charm of the medieval architecture nestled throughout the city. Having only been to Paris, I am intrigued by all of the charm that is spread out throughout France. I can’t wait to go back and will be adding Bordeaux to my list thanks to your post.

    1. Same here… until Bordeaux I had only visited Paris. There are amazing places to see. I would love to add Loire Valley to that list.

  7. I love your blog! This is the way I like to tell stories… Hugs! I also followed you on Instagram 🙂 Keep in touch.

    1. Thank you for the support! 🙂

  8. Great post! Definitely need to visit Bordeaux!

  9. What a beautiful, beautiful destination! I think French wine is great, yet I do not know it so well.
    But from what i see here I think Bordeaux is worth a visit anyway! I mean even if you are not willing to drink any wine!

    1. There are some amazing wine tasting trips you can take, planned or not – you can just hop from one chateau to another. If you rent a car… well cannot taste wine, unless there is a designated driver 🙂

  10. This is reminding me that I really need to book a trip to Bordeaux ASAP! Living in Germany, I’m so close to the region! Plus, how could I say no to wine!?!?!

  11. Yesssss! After going to Paris and tasting wine from Bordeaux it is moving to the top of my France list! You’re adding fuel to that fire haha. Can’t wait to experience it!

  12. I live in a city where street art is common and I love this!!! Oh and wine country!! Can’t miss it

    1. Thank you! You should check it out for sure!

  13. Your photo’s sold me! Really nice pics to go with your blog, I loved reading this thank you for sharing your experience, going to drink some wine now : )

    1. Ha ha ha! Go for it! Thank you for the comment.

  14. I too am a sucker for street art. They just make the whole place come alive and even lend a character to it.

    1. Same here! I try to find it everywhere I go, and sneak it in a post somewhere. I would have never expected to find it in Bordeaux, but there you go.. and not to mention.. it’s pretty awesome!

  15. I don’t know much about wine (To be honest). Your photographs are awesome and I would love to see all these places some day soon.

    1. Then I highly recommend La Cite du Vin. Best museum in the world that will teach you about wine all there is to know 🙂 All you have to do is take a wine tasting tour of Bordeaux region and you’ll be set 🙂

  16. What an awesome guide! Why have I never visited Bordeaux before?! I also love street art, beautiful architecture, and wine – so this looks like paradise for me! Especially love Miroir D’Eau, I can see myself booking a little trip here very soon!

    1. It really is a city of contrasts. I’m sure you’ll love it!

  17. I haven’t visited much of France outside of Paris, Giverny, and Versailles but immediately fell in love with the country. The list I’ve already created of other areas to visit is pretty extensive, and actually includes Bordeaux, unsurprisingly. It’s a beautiful city.

    Love your the composition of all your shots, btw!

    1. Thank you so much Jasmine! I think for me it was a long time since I last visited.. and my love for France faded a bit. But with Bordeaux I got it back 🙂 Soon I’ll have a post also about the area around the city. Lots of fun and interesting things to do.

  18. Wow, the wine capital! This makes me want to go there. The pics are all so beautiful. Loved the post.

    1. Thank you Amrita. It really is an amazing place!

  19. […] there are some amazing pictures too, so if you want to know more about the city of wine, head to The Wine Capital of the World […]

  20. Isn’t it funny, we get so used to hearing these wine names and kind of forget that they are actual places. Like you, I don’t visit France much, it’s a quick dash across to Paris every so often. Terrible considering w rate so close! Seeing that amazing water mirror, the street art and all those masks has made me want to visit somewhere else. I have to confess, I’m not a red fan and so maybe I’ll have to visit a town famous for its whites 🙂

    1. Just the city itself it’s an amazing experience and an amazing place to visit, even if you are not a red wine fan… and inside tip… you’d be surprised how much beer they are consuming 🙂

  21. absolutely beauitiful

  22. This is a well written and well illustrated blog post, thanks for sharing. I particularly like the street art images, which are amazing. You have included some excellent photographs too.

    1. Thank you for the comment and the appreciation!

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