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 Orly, 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.

Shadows play in the Miroir d’Eau, Bordeaux
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pey-Berland Tower, Bordeaux
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.

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.

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.

La Grosse Cloche, Bordeaux
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.

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.

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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.