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6 Surprising facts that will make you want to visit Bordeaux France
There’s more to Bordeaux, France, than wine. Yep, here’s six things I bet you don’t know about the Bordeaux wine region. Visit Bordeaux in 2 days and hit Bordeaux Instagram Spots that highlight Bordeaux’s recent facelift while sampling affordable food and wine. I found new transportation systems make it a perfect destination for solo travel and women travelers.
Here’s why the French city of 750K now draws both internationals and the French.
1.) Visit Bordeaux France for its 'New Face'
Twenty years ago the French called Bordeaux “Desolate Beauty” because the 18th Century buildings in the city center that lines the River Garonne were drab and darkly tarnished from years of coal burning, grime and auto emissions. However, since then, the limestone buildings have been cleaned and restored to their buttery limestone color, modern trams were added, and unsightly industrial docks were moved to another part of the river to make way for hip pedestrian walkways and parkways.
Today visit Bordeaux France for its vibrant riverwalk: people of all ages fill the promenades and make it quite a happening place. My new friend, Francoise, tells me that the forward-thinking mayor is behind the Bordeaux revitalization projects. Buzzing Bordeaux made me feel safe and sound as a solo woman traveler. Get more tips on travel safety here.
Longest pedestrian-only street in Europe
Francoise, who was volunteering at La Maison des Pelerins, or House of Pilgrims, where I slept while in Bordeaux also offered to take me to the Decathlon outdoors shop located on Rue Sainte-Catherine, considered the longest pedestrian-only street in Europe. I think it was easier for her to take me rather than to try to explain how to get to Rue Sainte-Catherine through the adjoining maze of medieval streets.
2.) Visit Bordeaux because it is affordable
More and more Parisians are moving to Bordeaux because of the lower cost of living and generally better weather. I found Bordeaux to be an affordable alternative to both Paris and Barcelona. The hiking poles that I bought at the Decathlon store were the same quality but less expensive than those I purchased at home or the previous year in Nice, France. My other purchases during my visit to Bordeaux in two days – meals, wine tour and wine – were less expensive than the same in New Zealand, California or Paris.
Check out affordable Bordeaux accommodations here.
Once we pulled ourselves away from the cute boutique shops in old town Bordeaux, Francoise and I were off to dinner to meet the other volunteer, Georges. Of course, we had the server bring a bottle of Bordeaux wine to accompany our meal.
No need to be a ‘Wine Snob’
Travel tip: When in wine country, don’t let the wine menu intimidate you. Simply do as I do: I let Francoise, the local, order the wine. It’s a good way to learn more about local wines.
I make sure to drink and eat like a local when visiting France. Because, well, they’re the experts on the local gastronomy. I research before I go to learn about the typical French breakfast or the not-to-be-missed local dinner delicacy.
3.) Instagram-Worthy: Bordeaux Instagram Spots
Since no others were spending the night at the albergue, Georges agreed to take me for a nighttime photo tour of Bordeaux after dinner. I was surprised to learn that the city has designed features so you can get the perfect shot — Instagram or not. The French photographer knew all the best Bordeaux Instagram spots:
- Bordeaux Instagram Spots #1: a shallow pool, purpose-built as a water mirror to capture the reflection of the beautiful 18th Century Place de la Bourse,
- Bordeaux Instagram Spots #2: Bordeaux’s iconic Pont de Pierre, or Stone Bridge, with its 17 arches, one for each letter in its patron’s name, Napoleon Bonaparte (get the shot from the new riverwalk,) and
- Bordeaux Instagram Spot #3: Pont Jacques Chabin-Delmas, a lift bridge that spans the river.
More Bordeaux Instagram spots that I found on my own during my visit Bordeaux in 2 days:
- Bordeaux Instagram Spots #4: Bordeaux Cathedral or Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux is built in the gothic style and was consecrated in 1096. I was particularly enamored with the Door of Arrows or Portail des Flèches as after my 2 days Bordeaux visit; I was leaving by foot and following the yellow arrows of the Camino de Santiago out of town.
- Bordeaux Instagram Spots #5: Porte Cailhau gate, entrance to the medieval town of Bordeaux, for the pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela. Between Place du Palais and Quai Richelieu.
- Bordeaux Instagram Spots #6: Vineyard at the Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport (BOD.) If you’re laying over in Bordeaux and really want a selfie in a Bordeaux vineyard, you won’t have to go far. Just outside the doors of the airport, a sweet little vineyard is planted. It’s such a welcoming feature for those arriving, or a vineyard photo hack for those just flying through.
4.) Now Easy to Visit Bordeaux from Paris
It’s easy to visit Bordeaux from Paris. France’s sixth-largest city is only two hours away from Paris when you take the relatively new “fast train” or train rapide. TGV trains, launched in 2017, reach speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph,) and run at least seven times a day seven days a week. Even more fast trains are scheduled Monday through Friday. Those departing Paris have the choice of two departure stations:
- Paris Austerlitz (85, Quai d’Austerlitz 75013 Paris)
- Paris Montparnasse (17, Boulevard de Vaugirard 75741 Paris Cedex 15)
The intercity high-speed rail service (TGV) trains all provide free WiFi. Check the schedule for the day you wish to travel. With so many fast trains on the schedule, you could go to Bordeaux for the day, or visit Bordeaux in 2 days.
5.) Bordeaux France close to 'Foodie' Spain
Bordeaux is only 200 km / 125 miles from Spain, which is a draw for those looking to relocate as well as visitors. That means that you can sample some of the world’s best wines with French cuisine in Bordeaux, and then hop over to San Sebastian, Spain, to visit the city with the most Michelin stars per metre (square foot) in all of Europe! The close proximity of Spain makes Bordeaux France, a foodies’ paradise!
I actually flew into Bordeaux from Barcelona, Spain (another foodie mecca) to visit Bordeaux in 2 days, which was a perfect amount of time to sample the wine and cuisine and experience the photogenic French city. Watch for cheap flights into Bordeaux, France, using my secrets to finding cheap airfare. (You get my FREE report, “How to Find Cheap AirFare” when you subscribe below.)
6.) Visit St Emilion Bordeaux for the recently-released 2015 and 2016 vintage wines
Without a doubt, most travelers know that Bordeaux is one of the great wine regions of the world. But what you might not know is that wine experts are raving about the region’s 2015 and 2016 vintages being uncorked now.
What made them such outstanding vintages?
In 2018, Wine Spectator said that the growing conditions, extremely warm days coupled with cold nights, let the grapes maintain their balance. They added that late rains in 2015 made for complete ripening. In the March 31, 2019 issue, Wine Spectator said, “Taken as a whole, 2016 is a very, very strong vintage.” Given that we writers avoid the word ‘very,’ the Bordeaux 2016 vintage must be exceptionally good.
All this hoopla enticed me to schedule a wine tour to visit St Emilion Bordeaux, a medieval town in Bordeaux wine country. (Note: Half-day wine tours are hard to find on Saturdays, but since my goal was to visit Bordeaux in 2 days, I wanted to save the other half of the day to explore the walking city.)
“Going through so many layers of soil gives the wine structure and complexity,” our guide Luigi explained. Some of these complex 2015 vintage wines from nearby areas are going for thousands of dollars per bottle. Therefore, I couldn’t imagine getting a taste of the acclaimed 2015 vintage during this wine tour. However, the tour exceeded my expectations when during our first visit (we made three stops along our way), we got to taste four 2015 Bordeaux wines.
For those who want to visit Bordeaux France in 2 days, I highly recommend guided wine tours to get the most out of your time. I chose to visit St Emilion Bordeaux because of its medieval village. During solo travel, I find it is nice to join a tour once in awhile to share the experience with others.
Did this make you want to visit Bordeaux France?
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UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Wittig writes books about hiking in France and Spain. Learn more by clicking here.
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