If you’ve read any of our other blog posts, you know we like wine. We are probably the only backpackers who visit wine country just about everywhere we go. That’s why we were thrilled to check out Bordeaux on our way from Paris to Barcelona.
Where to Stay in Bordeaux
We stayed at a lovely Airbnb about a mile from the center. Our immediate neighborhood wasn’t great but it was a quick walk to everything. Check it out here.
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What to Do in Bordeaux
While the wine tasting outside of Bordeaux is definitely the highlight, we found the actual city to be great too. Unfortunately, it was dreadfully hot when we were there so we didn’t do as much wandering as usual but I think we still got the full experience.
Try Wines By the Glass
Maison du Vin is an awesome place to try several wines. We loved it so much we went twice! It is surprisingly affordable given the ambiance and popularity. Get there early and be sure to order a cheese board!
Also head to Max Bordeaux to sample wine in a pour your own, pay as you go, style. It is a great chance to try super fancy wines without committing to an entire bottle. But be warned: it is fun but adds up quick!
Dine at an Outdoor Café
The restaurants in the St. Pierre district are quintessentially French and so cute! This is the perfect area for dinner or to simply stroll around in the evening.
There is lots of shopping in Bordeaux. Head to Rue Sainte-Catherine or Quai des Marques for a variety of shops. I bought some great shoes!
Tour La Cite du Vin
Okay, so we didn’t visit the wine museum. But you should! We heard it is awesome and we planned on going but we ran out of time and the $30 entry fee didn’t seem worth it.
Visit Miroir d’eau
This is a what not to do. We walked in the high heat to this “water mirror” only to be confused and unimpressed. I’m not really sure why people recommend it so highly. Walk by or cool off if in the area but don’t make a special trip.
Wine Tasting Near Bordeaux
Bordeaux is surrounded by lovely vineyards. We took the train to Saint Emilion for the day and it was divine. This is the best, easiest option if you don’t have a car and don’t want to do a tour. Saint Emilion is what you think of when you image traditional wine country. It is absolutely gorgeous and I am so glad we visited.
Walk from the train station into the quaint town of Saint Emilion and you will immediately see all of the wine shops. Wander the cobblestone streets and hop in and out of tastings to your hearts’ content. You can sample the wines without buying a bottle but it is kind of awkward. We caved and went home with a red. Definitely stop by the monastery Les Cordeliers to try sparkling wines in their nice courtyard and walk outside of town about 10 minutes to find Château Soutard, a classy winery.
Pessac-Léognan / Graves Region
These areas are closest to Bordeaux (about a 20-minute car ride away). We wanted to visit a bodega here but we didn’t. Honestly, it was so hot when we were here we just stayed in our nice Airbnb and worked! But Chateau Pape Clement looked great and they host fun evening events in the summer.
French Wine for Dummies
Okay, so we thought we knew wine after our countless trips to Napa, Valle de Guadalupe, and South American wine country. Turns out, we don’t! French wine is next level. We are used to choosing wines we like by the varietal (grape) such as cabernet or merlot. But in France it is all about location. I am definitely still a little confused by it all but here are the basics I got down. These are all reds, white was a whole other thing and we don’t prefer them.
– From Bordeaux: likely a mix of Cabernet, Merlot, and possibly Malbec
– From Cortes du Rhone: likely a mix of Grenache and Syrah
– From Burgundy: likely Pinot Noir
– Cuvee = blend
– Cru, Grand Cru ranking of quality
We had a nice time in Bordeaux. We especially loved our day trip to Saint Emilion. Whether you have an advanced palate or are a vin neophyte, Bordeaux is a great stop when traveling in France. Read about our entire Europe trip here.
Want more information to plan your trip to Bordeaux? Check out the France Lonely Planet here.