If you love food and wine as much as I do then Bordeaux is the place to visit. We went here beginning September for my (late) birthday trip. And it was absolutely lovely! The old city center is just marvelous and filled with amazing restaurants and wine bars. So be prepared to eat amazing foods and drink delicious wines when visiting Bordeaux! This was truly the best food and wine holiday I’ve had.
Also there are a lot of vineyards in Bordeaux and in around the nearby areas. Visiting two vineyards was the highlight of the trip I would say; so keep on reading if you want to know some more!
Where to stay:
If you want to be in the heart of the city, then staying in the historic center is a good idea. You’ll be within walking distance to all of the main places. But if you are like us and want to have a bit more local experience then a nice way to spend the vacay is to find a guesthouse outside the center. Also the prices are a bit cheaper over there.
Places to eat and drink:
I just adore French food, what about you? We wanted to try as many restaurants as possible and these are what I would recommend. We tried to choose places that served local foods and had vegetarian options also.
- Le Wine Bar: Absolutely lovely place. You can go there for a glass of wine before dinner and enjoy the atmosphere. Note though that you have to order something to eat before you can drink. The cheese plates there are delicious!
- Melodie: This was the best restaurant we went to in Bordeaux. The food was just divine. They have a set menu with couple of different options to choose from and a fixed price for that (excellent value). But this restaurant is so popular that you have to make a reservation.
- Waffle Factory: If you are craving for something sweet, this is the place to go. They have a variety of waffles from sweet to salty. The dough itself is just perfect. Our first option was La Creperie Gourmands but unfortunately it was closed the time we went there. That is a place to get authentic French crepes but the Waffle Factory wasn’t a disappointment either.
- Café du Port: We had our last dinner here and it was the perfect place to spend the end of the holiday. It’s a restaurant/cafe on the other side of the bridge facing the old town. So you can go here either during the day and have a cup of coffee or have dinner like we did. It is a bit pricier than the other places I recommended but was worth the experience since you’ll get an amazing view of Bordeaux.
- Aux Quatre Coins du Vin: This is the place to have a real wine tasting experience that we wished we could have spent more time in. There is a selection of at least 40 different wines by glass and their excellent staff are very helpful if you are a bit hesitant what to choose. They’ll give you a card what you use to get the wines from the wine dispensers – so basically you can just help yourself and taste as many as you want.
Also there are numerous other places to visit as well from wine bars to restaurants but these were the best ones, in my opinion.
Vineyards & Wineries of Saint-Émilion:
We visited two vineyards in the village of Saint-Émilion. Now, Saint-Émilion is one of most distinguished wine producing areas in France so if you love wine and you are visiting Bordeaux, this is the place to go. They have over 800 different wine producers, can you imagine that! Saint- Émilion produces mainly red wines and Merlot makes up to 65% of the grapes. And what also makes this little area so particularly interesting is the landscape they also have. They are surrounded with hills and gorgeous views wherever you look at – and of course endless amount of vineyards.
Choosing from different vineyards can be difficult since there are so many and some of wineries are open only for professionals and important people in the wine industry. We booked a guided tour around the two Châteaus: Châteu La Croizzille and Château Tour Baladoz – both family-owned wineries. What I really liked about the tour was that we got some interesting information about the wine production particularly in the area of Saint-Émilion and about the different Bordeaux appellations. They have very strict rules when it comes to wine and this is something that is unique and very different from the rest of wine producing countries in the world.
So what I would recommend is to stay in Saint-Émilion for at least one night, if possible. Since we only had a four day getaway in Bordeaux, we only did a half day guided tour to the wineries. There are several options for guided wine tours and trips available. But in my opinion half day wasn’t enough. The town of Saint-Émilion itself is so pretty that I could have easily spend more time there just walking around and enjoying the surroundings and lovely little restaurants. The other option to spend a full day there if you want to travel on budget. You can take a train from Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion and come back in the evening. However, if you want to visit the wineries, be sure to check their availability well in advance since you need to have a reservation.
Bordeaux itself is such a lovely city and it is also walkable town. But the architecture is just gorgeous and there are many old Cathedrals if you are a fan of them. The main places worth seeing are the Porte Cailhau which is the gate of the city, InterContinental Grand Hotel (because of its architecture), Musée National des Douanes (National museum of customs) and La Cité du Vin (City of Wine) which is the largest wine museum in the whole world.
Overall Bordeaux was in every way charming place and we had such a great time. It is one of those cities that will continue to stay charming and have that everlasting glory and beauty.