Eating Our Way Around Bordeaux, France
Hi friends! How the heck are you? I hope this post finds you well – ideally, enjoying a mid-morning break with a cup of coffee at arm’s reach. I’m here today to share my Bordeaux travel guide with you and wow, nothing makes me happier than travelling and sharing my experiences. If you’d told me two years ago – knee-deep in lockdown restrictions and the first year in 13 that I wasn’t on an airplane! – that I’d soon be scrambling to keep up with new travel guides, I never would’ve believed you. Just last month I finished sharing my Amalfi Coast guides, now I’m here with this, and next month I’ll be back with a quick Saint-Émilion guide. It feels so good to be back at it! Now, let’s get down to it, shall we? I bring you: Eating Our Way Around Bordeaux, France.
Until I started writing this guide, I didn’t realize just how much information I had to share – this turned into an epic! There is heaps of information below: where to stay/where to grab coffee/where to eat + drink/ and what to see & do! Enjoy!
PS: get ready for a photo overload! Bordeaux was just so pretty, it was hard not to snap snap snap!
before you visit
Before we get down to my Bordeaux travel guide, there are a few things to keep in mind:
• when we visited, France didn’t have any Covid-19 travel restrictions in place, but you needed a valid Covid pass to get everywhere. Obviously flights, but also cafes, bars, restaurants – even the outdoor Christmas market. The Irish Covid-cert is entirely interchangeable with the French ‘health pass’, so no need to worry about converting it online. Other than that, social distancing was the norm, and masks were mandatory indoors, etc. – but be sure to check France’s latest regulations if you’re thinking about visiting.
• the only hurdle we faced was having to get an antigen test before our flight back to Dublin. We pre-booked our tests online before leaving Ireland, in a pharmacy 5-minutes away from our hotel. From what I’ve read online, it seems you don’t have to have an appointment, but I didn’t want to risk it – and I’m glad we didn’t, because it felt like everybody in Bordeaux was in the queue to get tested with us. Aside from the 45-minute wait in the pouring rain, the test itself was over in less than 30-seconds, and we got our results by email about 20-minutes later. The requirement to have a negative test before entering Ireland has since been lifted, but be sure to check the latest travel regulations before traveling.
• on the pouring rain note: it rained every single day during our visit. After a quick Google search, I learned that this is pretty common – apparently it rains on average about 162 days of the year in Bordeaux! A coat with a hood and an umbrella are definitely packing essentials for a trip there.
• despite the rain, it was actually quite warm, even though we visited in December. This somehow makes the rain a whole lot easier to take. Besides, warm-ish weather + regular rainfall = perfect wine making conditions. Just sayin’!
Bordeaux travel Guide: getting there
Bordeaux is well connected by both air and train; the airport is one of the busiest in France and most European cities are only a connecting train away. Here are the steps we took to get to there:
• we flew direct from Dublin to Bordeaux with Ryanair, which took around 1hr 50mins.
• to get into the city, we took the 30’Direct shuttle bus from outside the airport terminal to Gare Saint Jean. We bought our tickets on the bus for €8, but there’s a small discount available if you book online. Note: our flight landed in Bordeaux at rush hour, and as a result the bus took over an hour to get into the city, despite the website stating travel time is 30-minutes. Something to keep in mind! I believe there are also public bus options; more info on that here.
• it was (of course) raining when we arrived at Gare Saint Jean, so we hopped on a tram to Place de la Bourse. Tram tickets can be bought at machines around the lines, and a ticket for one journey is €1.70. You have to validate it when you get onto the tram, and you can use it for multiple journeys within a 1-hour time period. The trams are a brilliant way to get around, and they’re so frequent! We never had to wait for more than 4-minutes. Note: there’s no ticket machine at Place de la Bourse, so if you’re looking to get on there, either plan ahead or take a tram 1-stop, get off to buy a ticket, and catch the next tram. We did the latter, but we were assured by a Bordelais lady that it would be okay.
Bordeaux travel guide: where to stay
What good would a Bordeaux travel guide be without a hotel recommendation? Well, I have two! Both are budget friendly – more to spend on food/wine 😉 – and both are ideally located near places we knew we’d be going to, which is so important for us. Pro tip: if you plan your trips around restaurants/places you know you’ll be, then look at those locations on Google maps and see if there are hotels nearby. Honestly, this is how we find most of the places we stay!
Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre // our favourite hotel of the two. Our room was a little compact, but it was super clean and the staff were lovely. Located in the historic Saint Pierre district, this is just a short walk up from the Place de la Bourse tram stop, on a side-street off the famous Rue Saint-Catherine. We found ourselves walking past this more than once after we’d moved to the other hotel, so it probably would’ve been a better fit for our entire stay. Would recommend. Address: 27 Rue Parlement Sainte-Catherine, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Hôtel des 4 Sœurs // even though this was just a 5-minute walk away from the hotel above, it felt like being in a different city. Out of the Saint Pierre district, there’s no charming medieval streets surrounding this hotel, but big beautiful boulevards instead. Our room was bigger than the above, but in serious need of a facelift – as was the whole hotel. It felt a bit dusty and tired, but it was clean and handily located for Bar a Vin CIVB & Brasserie l’Orleans, both listed below. Address: 6 Cr du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux travel guide: where to have coffee
L’alchemist // by far the best coffee we had on our trip! A very serious, real deal coffee shop that is so worth the hype. The only problem is that it’s TINY, so you might not be able to nab a seat. We were squeezed in at a tiny table by the door, and we both loved our coffees. Very smooth and very strong. Added bonus: it’s down the lane from Chez Pascal Dunes Blanche, listed below. A must-visit. Address: 12 Rue de la Vieille Tour, 33000 Bordeaux, France
SIP Coffee Bar // delicious coffee! We stopped here twice, once for takeout & once to sit in – both times it was great! Added bonus: located across the road from Le Boulanger de l’Hotel de Ville Jocteur, listed below. Address: 69 Bis Rue des Trois-Conils, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Chat Noir Cha Vert // I had the most bizarre cappuccino here. It was super sweet & milky – and covered in a hefty layer of sweetened whipped cream. I must say, I rather enjoyed it! Added bonus: this is literally next door to La Boulangerie Saint Michel, below, and they let you eat your pastries at their tables! Address: 47 Rue des Faures, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux travel guide: where to eat
Two quick things! One: a lot of menus are duck and foie gras heavy, so make sure to order both! These are the specialties of the region – along with a juicy côte de boeuf a la bordelaise – and any Bordeaux travel guide that doesn’t urge you to sample either wouldn’t be worth its salt! Trust me, it isn’t something you want to pass up. Two: pain au chocolats are referred to as chocolatines in this region of France! Exact same pastry, just a cuter name.
Bar A Vin CIVB // from our own personal experience: there is always a queue to get in here – and it’s so worth it! After trying & failing to get in one evening around 7-ish, we went back the next day – a Tuesday! – at lunch, and we still had to queue for 15-minutes! I couldn’t believe it! It is 100% worth the hype though, we loved our time there! The space, the wine list, the menu, the helpful staff – not to mention the price! We shared the Assiette sans Frontieres cheese plate: emmental, comte, a raw Basque cheese, and a sheep’s cheese – the latter two I didn’t catch the name of, but everything was delicious! Could not recommend more, we loved it. See also: where to drink wine, below. A must-visit. Address: 3 Cr du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Restaurant Melodie // Amazing food and exceptional value – €20 for a 3-course bistrot menu! We devoured: duck foie gras with onion jam, roasted ‘saint-nectaire’ cheese with bacon, crispy duck breast with bordelaise sauce, pork tenderloin with shallot sauce, salted butter caramel crème brûlée, and a baked apple dessert. Everything was divine! We ate here on our first night in Bordeaux, and it was such a great intro of what was to come! Highlights were definitely the foie gras, the perfectly pink yet crispy duck, and the best bordelaise sauce ever. A must-visit. Address: 6 Rue des Faussets, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Tante Charlotte // quite a mysterious little restaurant! It’s totally magical and romantic. I saw someone online say that dinner here was not just about the food, but about pleasing your senses; I cannot think of a truer statement to describe our experience. The restaurant is lit almost exclusively with one long tapered candle on each table. The front of house/lone waiter/owner was perhaps the friendliest man alive, and he was entirely covered in glitter. It is exceptional value: €99 for two people, including a 3-course meal, champagne aperitif, a bottle of wine, and a post-dinner coffee. The food was impeccable: beef cheek ravioli with some sort of espuma to start, the crispiest/juiciest/pinkest/most perfect duck breast with pureed veg for mains, and a chocolate mousse + crème brûlée for dessert. We died & went to food heaven. A must-visit. Address: 7 Rue des Bahutiers, 33000 Bordeaux
another great option
Brasserie l’Orleans // we couldn’t leave Bordeaux without trying a côte de boeuf a la bordelaise – and this restaurant didn’t disappoint! The online menu varies slightly from the actual menu – no bone marrow or bordelaise sauce – but they were kind enough to whip up the sauce for us. Our steak was delicious: seared in all the right places, and perfectly pink throughout! Address: 36 Allées d’Orléans, 33000 Bordeaux, France
sweets + pastries
Chez Pascal Dunes Blanche // little choux buns of joy, filled with sweetened cream and sprinkled with pearl sugar – so addictive! We visited more than once to enjoy these tasty treats. Since returning home, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must recreate them. Watch this space! A must-visit. Address: 7 Rue de la Vieille Tour, 33000 Bordeaux, France
La Fabrique, Pain et Bricoles // our favourite pastries in Bordeaux! We were actually en route to another pastry shop when we walked past this place, but we couldn’t ignore the heavenly smell wafting out the door. Amazingly flaky + buttery croissants and chocolatines; we devoured them right outside on the street. We would have gone back several times over, except we couldn’t remember the name/location until we got home. A must-visit. Address: 47 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Le Boulanger de l’Hotel de Ville – Jocteur // so good we visited twice! I can personally vouch for the croissants, chocolatine, and pain suisse – the first being my fave and the latter my least. Both times we visited there was a queue out the door filled with locals – which is always a good sign! Added bonus: it’s literally right across the road from SIP Coffee House, above. Address: 76 Rue des Trois-Conils, 33000 Bordeaux, France
La Boulangerie Saint Michel // we shared a pistachio + chocolate escargot & a chocolate torsade of sorts; both were delicious and huge – we definitely could’ve shared one. Fun Fact: while we were devouring our pastries, a troupe of about 15 French police cycled up to the bakery to collect breads/pastries! If that isn’t a testament to their deliciousness, I don’t know what is 😉 Address: 51 rue des Faures, 33000, Bordeaux France
La Toque Cuirvée // I read a whole bunch of guides that unanimously declared this home to the best canelé in Bordeaux. Turns out: we don’t like canelé! They’re so gummy and just downright weird? Glad I tried one, but also glad I didn’t buy a huge one. Address: 82-84 Rue Sainte-Catherine, 33000 Bordeaux, France
bordeaux travel guide: where to go for drinks
Bar A Vin CIVB // look, I love France, but I hate how stingy their wine glass portions are. It is a serious pet-peeve of mine and we often end up buying a bottle just to avoid the bad value of the glasses. Thankfully, that is not the case here! When we saw the prices on the menu ranged from just €2-8 for a glass, we were skeptical. Imagining tiny tasting portions of wine, we tentatively ordered two different reds, and were delighted with the generous glasses that arrived at our table shortly afterwards. The four different reds we tried were all delicious, and the waiter was extremely knowledgeable when we asked about tasting notes etc. Including a cheese board, I think the whole thing cost us, like €25, which is insane value! See also: where to eat lunch, above. A must-visit. Address: 3 Cr du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux
Café Brun // gosh, I have no idea how to even begin describing Café Brun other than to say it’s such a great bar! We discovered this gem on our first day and didn’t let a day pass without stopping in again, that’s how much we liked it! They have Stella Artois on tap (one of Boyfriend’s faves), the décor is totally quirky, and the atmosphere is fantastic. To help you grasp what level of quirkiness to expect: the entire ceiling was decorated with red & gold baubles – but I suspect they’re a year-round feature rather than a Christmas thing. Pro tip: make sure to get there early if you want to nab a seat, it’s very popular with locals! A must-visit. Address : 45 rue Saint-Remi, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Le CanCan // Boyfriend has a nose for good cocktail bars, and this place is no exception; it’s fantastic! Great space with big cushy leather armchairs, wooden elements, and exposed brick/crumbling plaster. The bartender whipped up a whiskey sour for me and an old fashioned for Boyfriend, giving adequate care and attention to each step of the cocktail-making process. They were beyond delicious – strong and sweet and just right. A must-visit. Address: 7 Rue du Cerf Volant, 33000 Bordeaux, France
La Comtesse // such a cute little cocktail bar! Quirky space, great playlists, and the cocktails come on adorable little mismatching saucers – need I say more? Both times we visited I’m pretty certain we were the only English speakers in the bar, which is such a plus! The service was great and they didn’t mind making cocktails that weren’t specifically listed on the menu. Would recommend. Address: 25 Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre, 33000 Bordeaux, France
bordeaux travel guide: what to see + do
Pont de Pierre // a beautiful old stone bridge lined with very aesthetically pleasing lampposts. The bridge was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, and it is widely believed the 17 arches of the bridge represent the 17 letters of his name. Address: 49 Quai Richelieu, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Porte Cailhau // I initially came across this on Instagram and couldn’t wait to see it with my own two eyes. This beautiful old city gate was once the main entryway into the city, and it looks like it came straight out of a fairytale – imagine walking through that upon arriving in Bordeaux! Mad. Address: Pl. du Palais, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Grosse Cloche // another old city gate, this one with a huge bell. Also very cool to see, but doesn’t have the same wow factor as the one above. Address: 45 Rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Walk along the waterfront // the harbour of Bordeaux, the ‘Port of the Moon’, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Basically the whole strip of land either side of the river is covered under this prestigious title, making it the largest urban UNESCO Site in the world!
L’intendant Grands Vins de Bordeaux // this is less of an attraction, and more of a wine shop – but you have to visit! The wines are displayed up the sides of a large spiral staircase, and some of them are bottles you won’t see anywhere else. They have wines dating to 1945, and some that cost over €9k a bottle! If only… Address: 2 All. de Tourny, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Place de la Bourse + Miroir d’Eau // the world’s largest reflecting pool. Our experience here was marred by the fact that the half of the Place de la Bourse building was covered in scaffolding, and the water mirror didn’t actually have any water in it – but we still thought it was pretty. During the summer months, when the water mirror is in full swing, this is probably a must-visit.
Christmas Market // the excuse we used to visit Bordeaux in the first place! A lovely Christmas market: huge, with heaps of wonderful stalls to peruse, and plenty of mulled wine options. Naturally, it was lashing rain while we visited, but it takes a lot to stop me from enjoying mulled wine at a European Christmas market! Address: All. de Tourny, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Wildly, we actually didn’t do any paid attractions in Bordeaux! The paid attractions for us were eating and drinking all the bordelaise food and wine. However, if I were to go back and felt I needed to up my culture intake, these are the two attractions I would consider:
Bassins des Lumieres // the world’s largest digital art gallery, located in a former submarine base.
Cité du Vin // the wine museum. To be honest, the main reason I wasn’t pushed to visit this time around is because it’s so expensive – €21 each!
And there we have it: Eating Our Way Around Bordeaux, France. I put literally everything I know about the French wine capital into this Bordeaux travel guide – I hope you find it helpful! Have you visited Bordeaux? If not, does this post make you want to add it to your list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Saint-Émilion post coming soon!
Vicki & Rob xo