Today on The Tig, one of our favorite travel buddies is bringing us to a place that is oh-so historic and drop dead beautiful. We’ve called on our girl Nneya Richards before to serve us up an Insider’s Guide to Sayulita, but today she’s taking us through the streets and vineyards of some of the most famous French wine country in the world. Come on over; Bordeaux has a glass waiting for you!
Located in the southwest of France, Bordeaux is one of the most renowned wine regions in the world. But, with a new 2 ½ hour train to Paris coming in July 2017, a recently opened world heritage wine museum, La Cité du Vin, and growing cultural offerings and job opportunities, France’s wine capital is fast becoming a city that’s attracting a new wave of visitors and permanent residents alike. Yes, there are the generations-old wine houses and the centuries-old wine industry, but a visit to the city of Bordeaux will leave you wanting more than your standard vineyard tour of the surrounding regions. It’s a thriving young city; younger, cooler and more affordable than it’s big sister Paris with a delicious farm-to-table culture, too! Eiffeled out? Here’s why you should make your next trip to Bordeaux, France.
Marché des Capucins – Nicknamed “the stomach of Bordeaux” Marché des Capucins is a covered market / food hall hybrid that’s an absolute must on your visit to the city. Sample local meats and cheeses while picking up fresh fruits and vegetables for your stay. Some places are stands, while others have tables and are restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy your made-to-order food.
L’Estacade – A gem in the Bordeaux restaurant scene is L’Estacade located in Quais de Queyries on the right bank of the Garonne. On stilts, this restaurant has incredible panoramic views of the city with delicious cuisine to match.
Château Ambe Tour Pourret – Taking a cooking lesson while you’re in France is an absolute must, especially if you’re a foodie like MM and many of The Tig readers. Assuming that you will be visiting the surrounding vineyards and sites during your trip, a place that you’re sure to visit is the UNESCO world heritage site, the town of Saint-Émilion. The beautifully preserved village and the surrounding vineyards date back to Roman times BC and is beautifully charming. It’s also where I took an amazing cooking class with Chef Jérome Oillic at Château Ambe Tour Pourret. Cook a delicious 3-course lunch and celebrate your accomplishment with several glasses of wine pairings.
Château de Cazeneuve – Another place to explore in the surrounding area is the Château de Cazeneuve, a castle still owned by descendents of the original owners and replete with beautiful gorges, underground caves, streams and well preserved interiors. After a delicious lunch paired with sauterne, a sweet white, take a guided tour through the grounds and well maintained castle.
Uniworld Cruises – It’s definitely unconventional for our generation, but trust me, there’s nothing stodgy about Uniworld Cruise. Opting for this for part of my stay in the city I was pleasantly surprised. The small ship was simply a luxury boutique hotel right on the water that docked in a harbor every night. My river view stateroom was a jewel box of a room (bigger than many in NYC!) with a balcony where I often enjoyed tea in the mornings or (as the ship was cruising along the Garonne and it’s estuaries) I did a food and wine connoisseur cruise, so not only was I privy to Grade A wine from the region with a knowledgeable sommelier, but also delicious meals using fresh ingredients from the markets. Cruising also solved the uncomfortable questions of, “Who’s driving?” after all of the wine and cognac tastings!
Hotel Majestic – A great option to stay in the heart of Bordeaux is the reasonably priced Hotel Majestic. In an 18th-century building, you’re around the corner from the Grand Theatre and in a beautiful area. At 47 rooms, the hotel is small but very quaint with all the amenities you need, including a restaurant on site.
Le Grand Hotel – If you’re a person that would prefer to stay with a brand you know, right across from the Bordeaux Opera House you’ll find the InterContinental Hotel in Bordeaux, Le Grand Hotel. This 5-star hotel is really spectacular and even if you’re not staying there you should make it a point to enjoy a cocktail in the indoor courtyard or Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, Brasserie Le Bordeaux.
Marché et Galerie Grand Hommes – This glass and steel shopping mall seems quite out of place amidst the areas ornate 17th and 18th century architecture and people were actually against the building of it at first. You know, it’s France, you’ll probably still hear people grumbling about it. The funny thing is, it’s actually not so out of place as most of the time, when daylight hits the glass, the building reflects the beautiful surrounding buildings!
Duke’s Vintage – There is a thriving and very cool vintage clothes scene in Bordeaux. On Saturdays the market at Saint Michel sells second hand clothes but there are tons of well curated vintage shops in the city as well. Two of my favorite places that have mastered that French je ne sais quoi appeal are Duke’s Vintage (6 Rue du Loup) and Leilou Shop (12 Rue du Loup)
Quai des Marques – Bargain hunters might need to check an extra suitcase, Bordeaux really has you covered from vintage to high street to luxury. There is even outlet shopping! Quai des Marques is an outlet center along the boardwalk of the Garonne house in the newly renovated buildings of old warehouses. You’ll find everything here from lingerie to home goods.
Rue Sainte Catherine – This is the longest shopping street in Europe and where you’ll find high street and mass stores like Mango, Zara or Galeries Lafayette. Here is where you’ll pretty much find anything you might need and forgot to pack during your stay and visitors and locals alike on this busy shopping way.
Skate Park Colbert – Bordeaux is a pretty hip city, and of course, it has one of the coolest skate parks I’ve ever seen. Skate Park Colbert, located on the waterfront on the Garonne with the historical mansions of Quai des Chartrons on it’s city side is the epitome of the blending of generations and culture in Bordeaux. There’s the natural beauty of the Garonne, the historical site of Quai des Chartrons and the cool murals and street art covering the sides of the skate ramps! You’ll see everyone from baby beginners to pros here. And believe me, there’s nothing like sharing a bottle of wine, sitting on the ledge of the park and watching the sun go down over the Garonne.
VCub – Bike around. As I mentioned before, Bordeaux is a young and active city. Like the centuries old city itself, even the older generation of Bordelais seem young at heart. The city is extremely bike friendly and I’d say this is the best way to explore Bordeaux. Bordeaux has a bike share program, VCub where for just 1.50€ you can rent a bike for the whole day, 7€ for the week and just 10€ for the month! Take advantage of this as I found getting lost via bicycle on side streets was among my favorite ways to explore hidden Bordeaux. Not a big biker and a little unsure of yourself? Don’t worry about the cars! Tip from my Bordelais friend who toured me around the city? Just smile and wave…they’ll stop! (But don’t worry, there are plenty of bike lanes and streets that are too tiny for cars to go through!)
Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux – One of the most beautiful buildings in the city is the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. Built in the late 1700s it is on the oldest wooden frame opera houses in Europe that hasn’t been destroyed or had to be rebuilt. But don’t just oogle outside of it!
La Cité du Vin – Naturally there have been museums and different sites in the region dedicated to their history in the wine trade but none as big and impressive as the newly opened – June 2016 – La Cité du Vin. This museum is dedicated to the culture and heritage of the world’s wine as is evident immediately by the wine cellar on the ground floor, Latitude20, that houses over 800 bottles of wine from more than 70 countries worldwide. Designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières from XTU Architects, even the building’s sleek frame evokes wine swirling in a glass. A 20€ ticket includes free reign of the museum and a glass of wine at the Belvedere, the museum’s rooftop bar with spectacular views of the city.
Images via: Nneya Richards, Linked Sites