- Wandering the banks of the Garonne: Bordeaux’s boat-bejewelled quays, lined with neo-classical 18th-century buildings, are so beautiful that UNESCO has classified the city as a world heritage site. Looking out across the water is Place de la Bourse, where masks of Bacchus and cheeky sea gods freckle the façades; and just in front, towards the water’s edge, the Miroir d’Eau is a beautiful reflecting pool that mirrors the buildings in its inky depths. It’s a breathtaking sight, especially at sunset.
- Losing yourself in the St-Michel district: Bordeaux’s chocolate-box medieval center—the quartier St-Michel—is a warren of pretty streets, dominated by the 14th-century Basilique St-Michel. But the jewel in its crown has to be the 114m-tall Flêche St-Michel tower—the second tallest medieval stone tower in France. Huff and puff your way up 228 steps for breathtaking cityscapes over Bordeaux’s steely rooftops and the glistening Garonne.
- Antique hunting in the Chartrons district: Even better, find a bargain there. This former wine merchants’ quarter, is nicknamed "rue des antiquaires" (antique-sellers’ street) after its numerous antique shops, which hawk everything from 1950s furniture to Napoleon-era clocks and jewelry—especially on rue Notre-Dame. On the west side of the district, the peaceful Jardin Public, with beautiful tree-shaded lakes populated by cute, quacking ducks, is popular with families.
- Tasting the wine: It could be in a restaurant or on a shaded cafe terrace; or it might be in a world-famous winery or during an oenology lesson at the Maison du Vin. Wherever you taste Bordeaux’s wine, you’re in for a treat. The region has no less than 57 wine appellations and some thousands of châteaux, many of which lie off the D2 road in the Médoc north of the city center. One of the prettiest châteaux to visit along the way is Château Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse-de-Lalande, with fairy-tale turrets and a fascinating glassware collection.
- Exploring Bastide: This revamped industrial area is best accessed via the Pont de Pierre, the arched bridge Napoleon built so his armies could march across the Garonne. Views from here are stunning, but they’re nothing compared to the panoramas awaiting on the Bastide side—especially at night when you can watch the whole of Bordeaux’s riverfront sparkle in one sweep. During the day, the botanical gardens off rue Linné make for a tranquil afternoon, with re-creations of local habitats and sparkling tropical glasshouses.
- Partying in the Bassins à Flot: North of the Chartrons, this former dock area is where Bordelais folk come to party all night long. Riverboats have been converted into bars and nightclubs, former warehouses now house restaurants, and the whole area feels very laid-back and funky. There’s even an ice bar on quai de Bacalan, where cool crowds dress up like Eskimos to sip scrumptious frozen cocktails in sub-zero temperatures.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.