Bordeaux is one my favorite places to visit. I’ve had the chance to visit several times and just can’t get enough of it. It’s a red wine lovers dream vacation. I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to visit several times (and I can’t wait to return)!
In my Bordeaux travel guide, you’ll find insider’s knowledge on visiting the city and wine regions of Bordeaux. You’ll find recommendations on how to get here, where to stay, and which regions to visit.
Since timing is one of the key elements to a great visit to Bordeaux, let’s start there.
When to Visit
Tours and activities in Bordeaux do not run all year around. Many of them only operate between April and October.
Even though you can visit any time of the year, my favorite time to be here is between late August and early October. This is when the grapes are starting to ripen and the leaves on the vines are starting to change color.
I personally think it’s one of the most beautiful times to be in Bordeaux. It’s also the start of harvest and the entire region is busy with activity.
However, I know it’s not always possible to visit at this time, so below you will find details on what to expect of the weather during each season.
Spring (April & May)
During April and May, the days are mild and the nights are cool. The highs are in the lower to mid-60s F (16 – 19° C). The lows dip down to the mid 40s to low 50s F (6 – 10° C).
Summer (June, July & August)
The Summer months have average highs between 70 and 80° F (23 – 26° C). It still gets chilly at night with lows in the mid to upper 50s F (13 – 15° C).
Fall (Sept & Oct)
It’s still beautiful in September with the average highs around 75° F (23° C). The lows continue to be cool with temps around 55° F (12° C) at night.
In October, it starts to cool down even more. The highs are in the mid-60s F (18° C) and the lows are in the upper 40s F (9° C).
Winter (Nov – March)
Winter is cool and quiet in Bordeaux. During these months, the highs are in the lower to mid-50s F (9 – 14° C). It’s really cool at night with lows between the mid-30s to lower 40s F (2 – 9° C).
It does get cold enough at times for some snow in Bordeaux. This cool weather is the perfect opportunity for the vines to ‘rest’ between vintages.
Tips for Getting to Bordeaux
Now that you know when you should visit, let’s talk about the best ways to get here.
The main airport that services the Bordeaux region sits just outside the city. The official name of this airport is Bordeaux-Merignac, or Aeroport de Bordeaux Merginac in French. It’s airport code is BOD.
Almost 20 airlines service the Bordeaux International Airport. You will find big-name airlines such as Air France, British Airways, and Iberia. You will also find a few discount carriers including EasyJet, RyanAir, and Vueling.
It’s also really easy to get from the airport into the city center and the train station. You can rent a car, take a bus or a taxi.
They also have a point-to-point shuttle service called Jet’Bus. This picks up every 45 minutes and takes you directly to the main Bordeaux train station. No reservation is required and it’s only around seven euros per person.
If you’re traveling throughout France or other parts of Europe, a more economical way of getting to Bordeaux is by train. The main train station is Bordeaux St. Jean. Dozens of trains come into the station every day including several trains from Paris, Toulouse, and other nearby cities.
This train station is less than a mile from the Bordeaux city center. To get there, you can either take the local light rail train (which has a stop directly in front of the train station), take a taxi or walk.
Although Bordeaux is a really safe city, you want to keep your eye on your luggage in and around the train station. There always seems to be a few sketchy characters hanging in and around the station.
It’s also easy to drive to Bordeaux from other points in France or nearby countries. The great thing about this option as you can stop at several places along the way before you reach Bordeaux.
One thing to note about driving in the city of Bordeaux is that there are several walking pedestrian malls and some very tiny streets. You want to have a good navigator that can help you get through some of these challenging areas within the city.
Things to Do In or Near Bordeaux
As you can imagine, most of the activities and tours in Bordeaux feature wine. While you’re here, you can also check out some of the historic buildings and fun shopping areas.
Regions to Visit
St. Emilion: My favorite place to visit in the Bordeaux region is St. Emilion. Most of the wines here are Merlot-based and the region is gorgeous. In addition to visiting some of its chateaux, it’s also fun to spend some time in the small historic town of St. Emilion. Here you can do a little more wine tasting, visit the wine museum, and enjoy lunch on the square.
Medoc: Another easy day trip from the city of Bordeaux is the Medoc region. This red wine region sits on the western side of the Giorande River and is known as the ‘Left Bank’. This is where you will find mainly Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines. It’s also home to some of the most expensive wines not only in this region, but in all of France.
Graves: This is a smaller wine region just to the south of the city of Bordeaux. Here you will find a combination of high quality red and white wines. It’s the closest region to the city and you can get here in less than 30 minutes.
Wine Tasting in Bordeaux
In addition to visiting some of the regions, there are also several opportunities for wine tasting within the city of Bordeaux.
Educational Sessions: If you want to learn as you taste, you can sign up for a short 2 to 3 hour educational session. These range from just learning about the wines to sessions that show you how to pair wine and cheese. These sessions are great for those that are just getting started in Bordeaux wines or want to learn even more.
Wine Tasting Bars: These are two places I like to go when I want to sample a variety of wines.
Bar a Vin: This wine bar is in the heart of the city and part of the educational arm of the Office of Tourism in Bordeaux. They offer a wide variety of wines at a really decent price. If you aren’t sure what to try, just ask your server and they will happily help you find something that you will enjoy.
Open Monday – Saturday from 11am to 10pm. Address: 3, Cours du XXX Juillet
Max Bordeaux: This wine bar is also in the city center. Here you can sample small amounts of wine from the most prominent wineries in the Bordeaux region. It’s not a traditional wine tasting bar. How it works is you prepay for a tasting card, selected wine from dozens of stations and determine the amount you want to taste. You then swipe your tasting card, press the button and out comes the wine.
The last time I visited the minimum amount you could add to the tasting card was around 30 euros. This allowed me to taste a small sample of about 5 to 6 wines from some of the most expensive chateaux.
Open Monday – Saturday from 11am to 8pm; Address: 16 Cours de l’Intendance
Non-Wine Related Things to See & Do
Shopping: The city of Bordeaux also has a fun walking mall with several local and internationally recognized shops. The walking mall is less than a mile long and you can find everything from shoes to traditional French macaroons.
Attractions: Here are a few non-wine related things to do in Bordeaux.
Place de la Bourse (Place Royal): A beautiful square with a huge fountain right along the riverfront. It also has a beautiful water mirror that reflects the square’s statues.
Grand Theatre – Opera National de Bordeaux: This gorgeous theater sits in the city center. You can either join one of their Saturday afternoon tours – or grab some tickets to a show to admire its beautiful interior.
Pont de Pierre (Pierre Bridge): This historic bridge links the two sides of Bordeaux together. You can walk or take a tram over the bridge. Head over at night for the most spectacular views of the city.
Englise Notre Dame la Grande (Notre Dame Church): A visit to any French town is not complete unless you visit one of its historic churches. This is the largest church in Bordeaux and was built in the 11th Century.
Bordeaux Travel Guide: Where to Stay
Bordeaux has come a long way in the last decade. You can now find several great places to stay from a two-star to five-star hotels. Here are a few of the top places to look at when booking your stay here.
Hotel des Voyageurs
3 Bis Avenue Thiers
Rooms start at around $50 a night
One of the top rated hotels in Bordeaux is also very affordable. The Hotel des Voyageurs is just a 10 minute walk across the bridge to the city center and old town Bordeaux. There is also a train stop right in front that will take you to the city center.
Guests rave about the cleanliness of this hotel and its spacious rooms. They also love the comfortable beds and the quiet location.
This small, 11 room hotel offers high-speed Internet access. It’s the perfect place to stay if you are on a budget and don’t need a lot of amenities.
115 rue Georges Bonnac
Rooms start at around $250 a night
On the opposite end of the budget spectrum is the five-star Hotel Burdigala. This beauty is also about a 15 minute walk to the city center. There’s also a Metro stop right outside which gets you there in less than five minutes.
This hotel offers everything you would want in a high-end, luxury hotel. You’ll find free high-speed Internet, room service, and a business center. Guests love its modern feel, helpful staff and quiet atmosphere.
There are also two restaurants on-site – one is a more formal restaurant and the other is perfect for those wanting a more casual evening out. I’ve eaten at the casual restaurant several times and they have both great food and an amazing wine list.
Le Boutique Hotel
3 rue Lafaurie de Monbadon
Rooms start at around $215 a night
Another popular hotel just to the north of the city center of Bordeaux is the Le Boutique Hotel. This 11 room hotel is situated in a beautiful stone building from the 18th-century.
In 2011, the interior was entirely renovated to a more modern and contemporary design. Each room has its own style and offers both luxury and comfort.
Here you will find air-conditioning, king-size beds and free high-speed Internet access. The hotel also has a bar and restaurant on-site, room service, and suites are available.
Ibis Bordeaux Bastide
16 Allee Serr | Zac Coeur de Bastide
Rooms start at around $90 a night
Another budget friendly option in Bordeaux is the Ibis Bordeaux Bastide. This hotel is also right across the old bridge and about a 15 minute walk to the city center.
Here you’ll find an entirely smoke-free facility that features 92 rooms. It offers both free high-speed Internet access and a business center. This two star hotel also recently added a new lounge style bar.
It’s another great option for those looking to save a little money.
Bordeaux Travel Guide: Where to Eat
Here are some of my favorite Bordeaux restaurants.
Le Bouchon Bordelais: French, 2 rue Courbin
Cafe Brun: French, 45 rue Saint-Remi
Le Wine Bar: Italian, 19 rue des Bahutiens
Solena: French, 5 rue Chauffour
Fufu: Japanese, 37 rue St. Remi
All of these are centrally located and usually quite busy. Call ahead for a reservation to ensure you are able to get a table.
Dinner also starts in France around 8:30 to 9pm. If you head out earlier, you should not have a hard time finding a table (but you might be eating alone!).
Bordeaux Travel Guide: Getting Around the City
It’s really easy getting around Bordeaux. I frequently use the light rail or the bus to get across the city. They’re fast, efficient and you can just buy your ticket when you board.
If you’re staying in the city center, it’s also really easy to walk from place to place. The city center itself is not a very large area, so this is another way that I typically get around.
If you’re staying a little further out or plan on visiting some of these wine regions on your own, then you will need a car. Traffic in Bordeaux is difficult during rush hour so be prepared to wait if you’re driving during these times.
As I mentioned above, there are also several walking malls in the city center which means you might have to drive out and around to get to your desired location.
What are your favorite places to visit, eat, or sample wines in Bordeaux? We would love to hear from you! Add your thoughts below!