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How to Spend the Perfect One Day in Bordeaux (2024)

Place de la Bourse in BOrdeaux
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Are you planning to spend one day in Bordeaux? We are sharing all you need to know for your day trip in this guide.

Bordeaux is a beautiful city located in the southwest of France. With its world famous wineries and historic center that exudes charm, there is plenty to do here for several days. However, it is possible to see the main attractions within one day.

We spent 2 weeks in Bordeaux and fell in love the city and region. In this one day Bordeaux itinerary, you’ll find the best things to do, best places to eat, and practical information to help you plan the perfect trip.

One Day in Bordeaux Itinerary

Grosse Cloche

Gross Cloche in Bordeaux

Begin your day in Bordeaux with breakfast at Books & Coffee. Nothing beats coffee with a view, and this quaint cafe is located on a tiny street with the best view of the Grosse Cloche.

The Grosse Cloche is a tall gate and bell tower from the Middle Ages. Dating back to the 15th century, this used to be one of two main entrances into the city.

The bell weighs a whopping 7,750kg (17,085 pounds) and only rings on special holidays, such as Bastille Day in July and on the first Sunday of every month. You can visit the inside of the tower for €6.

Tip: Books & Coffee Cafe gets busy. Try to arrive right when it opens to get a seat at a table outside. We got their earlier, and it was nice to enjoy the quiet street and view before the crowds arrived.

Want to visit Bordeaux with a local guide? We highly recommend this 2-3 hour private walking tour with an expert to learn about the history of the city.

Porte Cailhau

weekend in bordeaux

Wander your way through the charming streets to Porte Cailhou, the second Medieval gate and entrance into the old town. Also built in the 15th century, this gate was built to celebrate the French King’s victory in Italy at the Battle of Fornovo.

You can purchase a ticket for €5 and climb to the top of the gate for wonderful views overlooking the Place du Palais square and Garonne River. We did this and enjoyed the views.

Practical Info: The gate is open for visitors everyday from April to October, and Wednesday to Sunday from November to March. You can reserve your time slot online in advance, or purchase tickets upon arrival. Included in the Bordeaux City Pass.

Miroir d’Eau & Place de La Bourse

Only a 6-minute walk from the Porte Cailhau, is the Place de La Bourse. One of the main squares and iconic landmarks of this historic French city.

This elegant square is a fantastic example of Bordeaux’s 18th century architecture and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many events and festivals take place here throughout the year but mainly it’s just a nice area to walk around.

Across the road from the square is the Miroir d’Eau, or Water Mirror. Located on the banks of the river, this is the world’s largest reflecting pool and offers iconic views of both the river and Place de La Bourse.

Tip: We recommend coming back to the Miroir d’Eau after sunset to see the Neoclassical building lit up and reflected against the water. During our 2-week visit to Bordeaux, our hotel was close enough that we could walk here every night. Definitely a must-do in the city!

Bike to La Cité Du Vin

Cite du vin Bordeaux

Bordeaux is the World Capital of Wine, so what better way to learn about Bordeaux wine than at the city’s wine museum? The Cité du Vin is located on the opposite end of the city from the Miroir d’Eau.

You can get here either by taking the tram, or by riding a bike. We rented bikes from one of the self-service stations near the Place des Quinconces and rode along the riverfront to the museum.

It took us about 20-30 minutes each way, which is a bit longer than Google Maps says, but we stopped along the way to take in the views.

If you’re up for it, we highly recommend biking here! Otherwise, Tram B will get you there without the extra physical effort.

The Cité du Vin is a fantastic museum that is dedicated to teaching you about wines from around the world, and the process of producing wine. Each floor has different educational and immersive exhibitions where you can learn about wine history, viticulture, grape varieties, and the winemaking process.

If you have time, you can also book an hour-long wine tasting workshop at the museum, which is led by a professional sommelier.

Practical Information: The wine museum costs €22 per person for the permanent exhibition. There are other offerings, such as a sensory tasting journey and the workshops but these cost extra. You can check all ticket options and opening hours online at the official website.

Lunch at Halles de Bacalan

Located next to La Cité du Vin, Les Halles de Bacalan is an indoor food hall where you can grab a quick bite to eat for lunch. You’ll find a variety of food options here, from Mediterranean food and Italian food to charcuterie boards with local meats and cheeses.

If you opted out of the wine workshop at the museum, then you can pick up a glass of local wine here along with your lunch.

Saint André Cathedral

Saint Andre Cathedral Bordeaux

Ride your bike, or take the tram back into the city center and visit the Cathédrale Saint-André. This church is famous for being the location of the wedding of Louis VII (future king of France at the time) and Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1137.

The cathedral was originally made in the Romanesque style during the 11th-12th centuries but was later transformed into a Gothic-style church in the 14th and 15th centuries.

You can visit the inside of Saint-Andre Cathedral for a small fee. The opening hours vary throughout the year, so it’s best to double check online before your visit.

Climb Pey Berland Tower

Across the square from the cathedral is the Pey Berland Tower, a 15th century bell tower that was once the tallest building in Bordeaux. Unfortunately, due to a storm in the 17th century, the top of the tower was destroyed.

Today, you can climb up the 229 steps to the top of the tower for panoramic views overlooking the entire city of Bordeaux, including the UNESCO protected old town and Garonne river.

Practical Information: Tickets to climb the tower cost €9 per person. It is open everyday with varying hours throughout the year. You can check 2024 opening hours on the website before your visit.

Wander around the Old Town

Spend the rest of your day slowly wandering through the streets of Bordeaux. I recommend visiting the Place des Quincones, one of the largest city squares in Europe.

The square is lined with tall plane trees and is home to the Monument aux Girondins, a large public fountain that commemorates the Girondins.

Not too far form the square is the Jardin Public, which is a gorgeous park with green grass, walking paths, and benches for relaxing.

We spent many afternoons here enjoying the nice weather and people watching. If you need a bit of a break from all the walking, this is a lovely spot to relax.

If you’re looking to do a bit of shopping, then head to Rue Sainte Catherine. This 1.2km (0.75 mile) long street is the longest shopping street in Europe. You’ll find everything here from local boutiques to popular stores, such as Zara and H&M.

Try the local desserts

Dune Blanches in Bordeaux

No visit to Bordeaux is complete without trying some of the local desserts.

The most famous local dessert is the canelé – a small, custardy pastry flavored with vanilla and rum. It’s heavy and sweet and absolutely delicious. You can purchase one from La Toque Cuivrée or Baillardran Bordeaux, both are great options.

After eating your canelé (or two), make your way to Dunes Blanches Chez Pascal. This small shop sells a local delicacy called Dunes Blanches. These are small cream puffs filled with a light and flavorful chantilly cream and topped with sugar crystals.

It may just be a cream puff – but it’s not. It’s the perfect sweet treat and you must try it. We may be a bit obsessed and bought some almost everyday during our 2-week stay in Bordeaux.

The inside of a chocolate shop in Bordeaux lined with jars of chocolates and candies

Chocolate in Bordeaux

Bordeaux has an impressive chocolate scene with highly-regarded chocolatiers. If you have time, we recommend popping into a few shops and doing a little chocolate tasting of your own. We did this and absolutely loved it!

Here are a few chocolate shops to try:

Dinner at local restaurant

Bordeaux may be famous for wine but its culinary scene is no exception! From fresh fish caught in the Arcachon bay, just 1-hour west of the city, to locally sourced beef, you will not be disappointed.

Make sure to reserve a table in advance, at least 1 week in advance if possible, to guarantee a spot at your top pick. The good restaurants book up quickly.

Here are a few Bordeaux restaurants we recommend:

  • La Table Dereulle – This family-owned restaurant focuses their entire menu around cheese. They own a cheese shop down the street, so they take inspiration from that and create the most savory and delightful dishes. This is our top choice for lunch if you are in this area.
  • L’Entrecôte – A French institution, this restaurant focuses mainly on two things: steak and fries. Worth a visit if you’re looking to try this classic French dish that is served with a flavorful sauce.
  • Chez Dupont – A classic French restaurant serving typical dishes from the region.
  • Le Loup – A lovely restaurant serving regional French dishes at an affordable price.
  • La Brasserie Bordelaise – A wonderful spot to enjoy some local cooking focused on meats.
  • Boulangerie “Maison Lamour Judaïque” – Our top pick for the best bakery in Bordeaux.

Have more time in Bordeaux?

The Bassins des Lumiere light show in Boreaux with scenes from a painting by Claude Monet

If you have more time to explore Bordeaux, here are a few things we recommend doing.

  • Taste local wines at Bar a Vin: This one of the best wine bars in the city and is the place to go in Bordeaux if you want to taste a variety of local wines. It’s located next to the Bordeaux Wine council, and the waiters are sommeliers in training. Prices are also very reasonable here.
  • Visit the Marche des Capucins: This indoor market is one of the best markets in France selling everything from local produce to cheeses, meats, and even fresh oysters from the Atlantic. If you have the time, it’s worth a visit.
  • Bassins des Lumieries: A unique art exhibit located in an old submarine bunker. It’s a light show that projects art by famous artists onto the walls. We enjoyed our visit here.

Spending more than a day in Bordeaux? Check out our 2-day Bordeaux itinerary, which includes a day trip to the vineyards of Saint Emilion or Medoc.

One Day in Bordeaux Map

This map includes the best things to do in Bordeaux in a day. You can use it to easily navigate your way around.

To save the map to Google Maps on your phone or computer, click on the star next to the title. Once you do this, you’ll be able to find the map in your “saved maps” list on your phone.

To see a list of all the items on the map, click the box with arrow on the left. To enlarge the map, click the box on the right.

Bordeaux City Pass

The 24-hour Bordeaux city pass includes transportation on the trams, plus entry into many museums and sites around the city. The pass costs €35 for a full day.

Is it worth it for your day trip? Let’s take a look at what’s included.

  • Porte Cailhau – €5 (price without pass)
  • Pey-Berland Tower – €9 (price without pass)
  • Cite du Vin – €22 (price without pass)
  • Tram – €5 day

Total: €41

If you visit all of the attractions listed in our itinerary, you will save money by purchasing the 24-hour Bordeaux pass. You can purchase the pass online at the official website.

Getting around Bordeaux

Bordeaux is pretty compact and most of the main attractions are within walking distance from each other. The only exception is the Cité du Vin, which can be reached by tram or bike. You can walk here but it’ll take 40 minutes from the center.

There are trams running throughout the city. This is the best way to get to the train station, wine museum, and anywhere around the city. You can purchase single-ride tickets or day passes.

Additionally, there are many V3 self-service bike stations around the city. Bordeaux is a bike friendly city and this is a fantastic way to get around if you feel comfortable with it.

Is One day in Bordeaux enough time?

Bar in Bordeaux

One day in Bordeaux is enough time to get a feel for the city and to see some of the main attractions.

With that being said, we recommend a minimum of 2 days in Bordeaux to enjoy the city without feeling rushed. Plus, an extra day gives you the time to see the market, some of the museums, and take it a bit slower.

If you want to take a wine tour to Medoc or Saint Emilion to visit some of the local wineries, then 3 days is an ideal amount of time in Bordeaux. We highly recommend taking a day trip to the countryside! It’s absolutely stunning.

Best Time to visit Bordeaux

Jardin Public in Bordeaux

For wine lovers who want to get the full wine harvest experience, then September and October are the best months to visit Bordeaux. This is when the vineyards are at their peak and you may get to see the grape harvest in action.

With that being said, this is also the high season in Bordeaux. Expect crowds and higher accommodation prices.

Spring and summer are also lovely times to visit. The weather is usually pleasant and warm making it an ideal time for sightseeing, and the city really comes to life during this time.

How to get to Bordeaux

Garonne River bordeaux

Bordeaux has both a train station and an international airport. We are sharing the best ways to get to Bordeaux below, and information on how to get to the city center from both the train station and airport.

Getting to Bordeaux by train

The main train station in Bordeaux is called Bordeaux Saint-Jean. It is located about 3.5km from the center, or 15 minutes via tram.

The station is well-connected with the rest of France and has both high-speed and regional trains. With direct trains to and from cities like Paris and Biarritz, the train is an easy and convenient way to get to Bordeaux.

We recommend booking your high-speed train tickets online at least 3-weeks in advance at the SNCF website to get the best prices.

Bordeaux Train Station to City Center

Getting from Gare Saint-Jean station to Bordeaux city center is simple, and there are two convenient options to choose from. Your first option is to hop on the tram heading towards the city center.

The tram stop is located outside the front of the station and there is a ticket machine where you can purchase single-ride, multiple rides, or day passes. A single-ride ticket costs €1.70.

Alternatively, if your accommodation is not too far from the train station, you can walk. However, the walk to the city center takes 40 minutes, so it’s worth taking the tram with your luggage.

Of course, if you prefer, you can always take a taxi from the train station. Either have your hotel arrange one in advance, or just hail one outside of the station.

Paris to Bordeaux

There is a high-speed train that departs from Paris Montparnasse station many times throughout the day. The direct train takes between 2-2.5 hours each way. You can easily visit Bordeaux on a day trip from Paris.

Getting to Bordeaux by Plane

The closest airport to Bordeaux city center is Bordeaux-Merignac International Airport. If you’re flying internationally, this is your best bet when it comes to getting to Bordeaux. It serves flights from elsewhere in France, as well as other countries across the globe.

Bordeaux airport to Bordeaux city center

The best and cheapest way to get from the airport to the city center is via the direct shuttle bus. The shuttle drops you off at the train station and takes 30 minutes each way. From the train station, you can take the tram to your accommodation.

The 30’Direct bus offers rides every hour from the airport, and it costs €8 each way. You can save money by booking your tickets online. For a complete timetable, go to the official site.

Alternatively, you can grab a taxi outside of the airport. It’s faster and more convenient and drops you off directly at your accommodation.

Where to Stay in Bordeaux

Old town in Bordeaux

There are plenty of nice hotels in Bordeaux. We are picky when choosing hotels because we like to stay in comfortable places with modern amenities and stylish decor.

Here are our top hotel picks:

  • Bordeaux Budget Hotel: Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre | This high-rated budget hotel is located in a 19th century building in the heart of the city, just a short walk from the Place de la Bourse. The rooms are spacious and clean with an optional breakfast included.
  • Bordeaux Boutique Hotel: Hôtel Singulier Bordeaux | This 4-star, highly rated boutique hotel is centrally located in Bordeaux and features beautifully decorated rooms. For those visiting during the summer, the rooms have A/C, which is a huge plus in France. Not only that, but you can enjoy their rooftop terrace with stunning views overlooking the city.
  • Bordeaux Mid-Range Hotel: Heym | Located next to the Jardin Public, this gorgeous hotel features spacious rooms and even an indoor swimming pool. Breakfast is included in the price.
  • Bordeaux Luxury Hotel: Le Palais Gallien Hôtel & Spa | A stunning 5-star hotel, Le Palais Gallien features an outdoor swimming pool and well-designed rooms. It’s central location makes it convenient for getting around the city by foot.

More Information for your Trip to France

FRANCE TRAVEL PLANNING GUIDE

France Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for France? YES! We always purchase travel insurance before all of our trips just in case anything happens. Check out Safety Wing to find the best plan for you.

France Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in France? Yes! We’ve rented a car in France too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

France Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in France, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to France, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed.

France Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for France? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through Booking for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.

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