Photo of A weekend in Bordeaux

With cheap flights to Bordeaux from the UK it is now very practical to visit Bordeaux for a long weekend without breaking the bank.

Bordeaux centre has a wide range of hotels and an excellent tram-system making car hire unnecessary unless you want to explore the surrounding countryside.

Bordeaux is one of France's most beautiful cities and in the centre are not only elegant wide boulevards and large open squares, but also narrow medieval streets and the recent addition of a modern shopping and cafe area on the banks of the river.

The architecture is such that a huge part of the city centre has been given UNESCO World Heritage status

Bordeaux Centre

Bordeaux centreThere is lots to see and do in Bordeaux but the historic part of the city is reasonably compact and easy to explore on foot. If you are getting tired then use the excellent tram system to travel around the city.

The Place de la Comedie is one of the main squares in Bordeax and here you will find the splendid Grand Theatre building. If you are an opera buff be sure to book tickets for your stay. From here head towards the river and the Palais de la Bourse to enjoy more of the elegant 18th century architecture which makes Bordeaux so beautiful.

However wander into the side streets off the grand sweeping boulevards and you quickly become immersed in the charming narrow streets of medieval Bordeaux. Whilst exploring these look out particularly for the Grosse Cloche, a Disney-like bell-tower and the Porte Cailhau another wonderful Disney-like structure, though both pre-date Disney by 5-6 centuries!

If you are looking for something more modern then walk along the river which has recently been revamped. Its warehouses now house trendy restaurants and shops and the walk along the river passes attractive gardens, skate parks and lots of areas to relax. Opposite the Palais de la Bourse is a large shallow expanse of water which you can walk on and which explodes with fine jets of water every few minutes - fabulous to cool down in the summer!

If you wish to do some shopping then Rue St Catherine in the centre is Europe's longest shopping street at over a kilometer in length and the surrounding streets are full of individual boutiques, designer shops and lots of cafés and restaurants.

A favourite cafe for lunch is Karls Café on Place du Parlement who specialise in imaginative salads, soups and sandwiches in a pleasant relaxed environment. If you wish to eat where visiting presidents eat then head for Le Chapon Fin on Rue Montesquieu.

See more details in our Bordeaux Guide

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The villages and countryside around Bordeaux

Saint EmilionThere is plenty to do in Bordeaux to keep you amused for a weekend but if you wish to explore further there are a number of interesting trips you can do without a car.

The tourist office of Bordeaux on the edge of Place de la Comedie offer a large number of full day and half day trips to the local vinyards giving you the chance to sample the excellent Bordeaux, Medoc, St Emillion and Sauternes wines amongst others. Trips vary from 60 to 80 euros including lunch. 

There is a train from Bordeaux station to Saint-Emillion which is a fabulous town. Saint Emillion is a beautiful town with steep, narrow streets, charming squares and you can take an underground tour of its monolithic church.  It is also of course home to the fabulous St-Emillion wines offering an opportunity of a little wine-tasting.

In the opposite direction you can take the train to the lovely coastal town of Arcachon. Even out of season arcachon is worth a visit to view the quirky villas of the 'Ville d'Hiver' built in the second half of the 19th. You can also take a boat trip out to the "cabanes tchanquées" -  the fishing cabins on stilts in the Bay of Arcachon.

If you do decide to hire a car a trip to Arcachon can be extended to take in the wonderful Dune du Pilat which is the largest sand dune in Europe and offers sweeping views of the bay. A drive round the bay to Cap Ferret is also recommended.

Travel information

- To arrange car hire for the duration of your visit see car hire in France

- There are lots of hotels in the centre of Bordeaux, just choose the one that suits your price range. The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux opposite the Grand Theatre is the place to stay if you have a big event to celebrate or money is no object but there are many other cheaper options. For hotels at all prices in the town see Bordeaux Hotels.