6 reasons Bordeaux should be your next city break

Jacqui Agate

Jacqui Agate

This is a city that doesn't get enough credit. Millions of tourists flock to Paris each year but those in the know have been waking up to the charms of beautiful Bordeaux.

A UNESCO World Heritage site in its entirety, the city has no shortage of world-class wine, fantastic food and architecture to make you stop and stare, and a new rail route has shortened the journey from London to Bordeaux to just six hours.

Top reasons Bordeaux should be your next city break © Leonid Andronov - Dreamstime
Top reasons Bordeaux should be your next city break © Leonid Andronov - Dreamstime

The best bit? You can experience this treasure-filled destination in the lap of luxury: browse our latest IHG deals to book a great value stay at the InterContinental Bordeaux - Le Grand Hotel. Read on to discover six more reasons you should visit this fascinating French city, now.

1. For the wine

Wine is the lifeblood of the city - in fact, there's a whole museum dedicated to it. La Cité du Vin opened in 2016 to much applause, and it has been entertaining and educating oenophiles ever since.

The futuristic facade is a sight in itself, but it's once inside that things really get interesting. Immersive exhibitions chronicle the history of wine and its production around the world, from legends to landscape. Your museum visit will finish up with a tasting at The Belvedere, an eighth-floor bar offering panoramic views of the city.

The Cité du Vin Museum, Bordeaux © Travelstock44 - Alamy Stock Photo
The Cité du Vin Museum, Bordeaux © Travelstock44 - Alamy Stock Photo

There are plenty more places to enjoy a glass or two beyond this shrine to wine. Owned by the Bordeaux Wine Council, Bar A Vin is the place to go to try a range of varietals on a budget. The list is continually rotating with expert sommeliers on hand to help you make the right choice - prices start from as little as €2 so visitors get the chance to sample a selection.

For something more intimate, head to Vins Urbains. This cosy wine bar is tucked into the Saint Pierre district, with stone walls and menus scrawled on blackboards. Choose from a lengthy wine list and pair your glass with some tasty charcuterie.

2. For day trips to some of the country's top wine regions

The city is well placed for a jaunt out to some of the best wine regions in the country.

North of Bordeaux is the revered wine region of Médoc, with its grand chateaux and sprawling vineyards. One of the most impressive estates is Château Margaux. Dating back to the 1500s, it produces a range of Premier Grand Cru Classé reds and whites, and you can arrange a private tour or tasting.

Chateau Margaux in the Médoc wine region, Bordeaux © Noisette0333 - Dreamstime
Chateau Margaux in the Médoc wine region, Bordeaux © Noisette0333 - Dreamstime

Saint-Émilion is also on the city's doorstep, and a range of chateaux in this wine-growing region offer tours. One of the best is Château Cadet-Bon with its outstanding Merlot and seven hectares of vineyard-covered landscape.

3. For a taste of France

Fragrant markets. Brimming boulangeries. World-class restaurants. Bordeaux is a truly delicious city, and you could spend months feasting on its culinary delights.

But to get a taste of the city in a short weekend, start with Marché des Capucins - it's known as the "stomach of Bordeaux" for a reason. You'll find a bounty of colourful produce at this covered market each Sunday, from local cheeses, freshly baked bread and heaps of fruit and veg. A handful of stalls, including an oyster bar, allow shoppers to pull up a chair and enjoy their purchases on site.

Market stall inside the Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux © Directphoto Collection - Alamy Stock Photo
Market stall inside the Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux © Directphoto Collection - Alamy Stock Photo

The food-truck trend has started to catch on in Bordeaux, too. Roving vendors El Taco Diablo dole out soft-shell tacos filled with a choice of grilled chicken, slow-cooked pork, and more, plus hearty chilli bowls and belly-busting burritos.

Run by a British expat, West Coast Burgers is another great option. The truck can often be found parked close to La Cité du Vin, serving up delicious burgers with French twists, such as duck, camembert and caramelised onions.

When it comes to picking a restaurant, you'll be spoilt for choice. Stylish Le Carreau serves up modern French classics, such as steak tartare.

For something slightly more casual, opt for Le Michel's: a hip bistro whose menu includes surprises such as a duck burger and a falafel mezze. L'Entrecôte, Bordeaux's beloved steak house, always has queues out the door.

Looking for the perfect city break?: For even more urban inspiration, check out our bespoke city break finder tool based on the weather.

4. For the art scene

Art lovers should make a beeline for the Museum of Fine Arts, which has brimmed with work from some of Europe's greatest artists since 1881. You'll find masterpieces from Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and many more spread across two grand wings.

Saint-Pierre district of Bordeaux © Steve Le Clech - photo courtesy of Bordeaux Tourism
Saint-Pierre district of Bordeaux © Steve Le Clech - photo courtesy of Bordeaux Tourism

Bordeaux has a booming modern art scene, too. Housed in a former warehouse converted some 40 years ago, the collections at the cavernous CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art Bordeaux are continually rotating. The permanent store includes works from big names, such as Italian mixed-media artist, Mario Merz, and Spanish abstract painter José María Sicilia.

Smaller but packed full of equal treasures, the Museum of Creation Franche is also worth a visit. Opened in 1996, it's tucked into the Bordeaux suburb of Bègles. It focuses on what's become known as "outsider art" (art that's not produced by professionals), boasting a fascinating and eclectic collection.

5. For the architecture

Spend some time wandering around this compact city and you'll soon see why it was granted its UNESCO status. Efforts to spruce up many of the city's historic buildings have certainly paid off - what's been left is a glittering city with an architectural feast around every corner.

Café outside Saint-André's Cathedral, Bordeaux - photo courtesy of Alberto Cruz
Café outside Saint-André's Cathedral, Bordeaux - photo courtesy of Alberto Cruz

The Place de la Bourse (and the Miroir d'Eau that fronts it) is the crown jewel. It took years to construct this elegant square and its surrounding edifices: building continued from 1730 to 1775, and was the work of Ange-Jacques Gabriel, the greatest French architect of his day.

A shallow reflecting pool, the world's largest, has also been here since 2006, repeating the sprawling buildings in its watery expanse.

The intricate Cathédrale Saint-André, a gothic church dating back to the 11th century, is worth seeking out, too.

6. For the neighbourhoods

Once you've taken in the city's top sights, it's worth venturing a little further from the centre. Les Chartrons is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Bordeaux. Boutiquey shops, artists' studios, and independent restaurants line the streets, attracting the city's hippest residents.

Meanwhile, the Bassins à Flots is an area undergoing major renovations. It's home to an old submarine base that now functions as an underground arts and performance space.

Is Bordeaux on your city-hit-list? Check out the latest deals on stays at both the InterContinental and Holiday Inn hotels, proving that IHG offers something for every budget. You can also find out more about the weather in Bordeaux, and see when we think is the best time to go to make the most of the city's sights.

Jacqui Agate

Jacqui Agate
Posted on Monday 19th March 2018 in: City Culture Europe Food & drink

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