Best things to do in Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux is a French commune with a population of roughly 250 thousand. It is the capital of the Gironde department and of the New Aquitaine region. In 2007, UNESCO defined the historic city center of Bordeaux as a World Heritage Site.

Crossed by the Garonne, Bordeaux is part of Gascony and is famous throughout the world for the homonymous wine, Bordeaux.

That said, visiting this French city means much more than a tour of vineyards and cellars. Bordeaux is a city loved by its inhabitants for its relaxed approach to life.  For music lovers, it offers a vibrant community of musicians and artists. Spurred on by the large student population of one of the largest universities in France, the city has a buzzing nightlife. To experience the music scene and nightlife of Bordeaux we recommend the district of La Victoire.

The major points of interest in the city are concentrated around its historical attractions and cultural institutions.


Saint Andrew’s Cathedral – a Religious Wonder of Bordeaux

Let’s start with Saint Andrew's Cathedral in Bordeaux, the most important religious monument in the city. Built in 1096 by the will of Pope Urban II, the main facade of the Cathedral is Romanesque. The north is the most beautiful facade. Here architecture and history lovers can see the Royal Portal embellished with bas-reliefs representing the Last Supper, the Ascension and the Triumph of the Redeemer. On this side of the Cathedral, you can't miss the two twin towers standing at 81 meters tall.

Museum of Fine Arts in Bordeaux

The Musée des Beaux-Arts ("Museum of Fine Arts") is instead located within the Rohan Palace complex in the city center. It is one of the largest galleries in France outside Paris. Created August 31, 1801, the birth of the museum was also due to the tenacity of the painter Pierre Lacour (1745-1814), who was its founder and first conservator. It has been collecting artwork since 1803, after Bordeaux senator Bernard Journu-Auber commissioned the arrival of 20 paintings at the museum in 1803.

The museum has a large and rich collection of European painting. These ranging from fifteenth century to the modern era and a collection of Flemish and Dutch paintings from the seventeenth century. There are also pieces by famous painters such as Anton Van Dyck (Portrait of Maria de 'Medici), Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, Frans Hals, David Teniers the Younger, Jacob van Ruisdael and Jan Brueghel the Elder.


Majolan Park

Another wonderful place to visit is the Majolan Park. Located in the municipality of Blanquefort, Gironde, it is located at the foot of the hill. Built at the end of the 19th century on an old marsh, this space was designed in the romantic Baroque style. Open to the public in the mid-1980s, it has become one of the most popular places to stroll in the Bordeaux area.

Completely renovated in the late 2000s, Majolan Park reveals a lake of over four hectares, artificial caves, a rock bridge or many rare and exotic tree species.

While walking along the site, it is possible to find the main attraction of the places, follies, types of decorative fake ruins. Listed on the inventory of Historic Monuments, Majolan Park offers amazing fountains and other geysers designed by talented rock artists and hydraulic engineers.


Gothic Style Historic Doors of Bordeaux

Gross Cloche

The Grosse Cloche (original name Porte Saint-Eloi) is a historic door of Bordeaux and civic tower of the old town hall, built in the Gothic style in the 15th century. The door takes its name from the large bell cast in 1775 which is located in the large arch that overlooks it. At the foot of the door, there is the small church of Sant’Eligio (15th century) with an arched portal. Used for centuries to announce anything that happened in the city, today the bell rings only once a year: 11 November, the day of the Armistice which commemorates the end of the First World War.

It is a symbol that identifies Bordeaux, without any doubt. The Grosse-Cloche, together with the  Cailhau Door, is one of the most important civil monuments of the Bordeaux Middle Ages.

Cailhau Door

The Cailhau Door (in French Porte Cailhau) is a historic gate of Bordeaux built in the Gothic style in the 15th century and located on the bank of the Garonne. The original gate was in the 14th century bastion. By chance, at the end of the construction, King Charles VIII won in 1495 in the Battle of Fornoue against the Italians, during which the archbishop of Bordeaux, André d'Espinay led a contingent from Bordeaux. To commemorate this victory, the door that formed a royal entrance in front of the Palais de l'Ombrière was dedicated by the jurors to Charles VIII, and adorned with his white marble statue, holding globe and scepter, surrounded by the Cardinal d'Espinay and from San Giovanni Battista. With its roofs, the gate reaches 35 meters in height.

City of Wine Museum

Another attraction of Bordeaux is The City of Wine. A beautiful, spectacular and sparkling museum.

Even if you are not a wine connoisseur, there is plenty to discover. You can choose from the many contemporary exhibitions such as the one on Le Vin & la Musique, accords et désaccords or for the various tasting events. Here, anybody can learn all about the castles of Bordeaux and the wine labels of the area. Or book a tasting in one of the many famous castles in the region, such as those of Saint-Émilion, Saint-Julien, Margaux, and Médoc, just to name a few.

The Museum of Aquitaine

Last but not least, another unmissable place to visit in Bordeaux is The Museum of Aquitaine (in French Musée d'Aquitaine) museum of history, archaeology and ethnography. This wonderful museum collects historical and archaeological finds from the Aquitaine region that trace the history of Bordeaux and its region from prehistoric times to the contemporary age.

The museum of Aquitaine contains rich collections, from prehistoric times to the contemporary era. Among the many masterpieces, are the Venus of Laussel (25,000 years BC), the treasure of Pauilhac (3500 years BC), the cenotaph of Montaigne (end of the 16th century), "the Heretics", design by Auguste Rodin.


Visit Bordeaux and other wonders of France together with other European cities on a tour with us. Contact our Europe Travel Experts to start designing your dream European vacation. 

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