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Bordeaux

Is it worth it to spend a day or two in Bordeaux, and, if so, what should we see. We’ll be there in late May 2022.
Thank you.
Nancy

Posted by
4720 posts

The answer is "it depends"!
To me, Bordeaux is not a "must-see", but a visit is interesting. Where will you go if you do not spend those two nights in Bordeaux?

Posted by
21984 posts

Yes to what balso wrote. Are you heading to the Dordogne? To the French Basque Country? What does the rest of the trip look like?

Posted by
35 posts

We are spending 5 days in Paris and 9 days in the Dordogne before we join a Rick Steves trip of Slovenia and Croatia.

Posted by
10663 posts

IF it doesn't take time away from other areas (and with 9 days in Dordogne probably will be OK), I really enjoyed a few days in Bordeaux in October. I enjoyed the Cathedral Saint-Andre where Alienor d'Aquitaine married her first husband who became Louis VII (I think the nave is the only 11C part remaining), the Museum of Aquitaine which had a very good pre-history section, as well as the Fine Arts Museum (3 separate buildings). I enjoyed walking on the esplanade along the river as well as the large pedestrian area of restaurants and shops.

I also enjoyed it because it felt so different. The palm trees, banana plants and hibiscus surprised me!

Posted by
21984 posts

I see that the Centre Jean Moulin (a museum of the French Resistance) is still closed for renovations. The website says "until 2022" without anything more specific, so I'm afraid it will still be closed at the time of your visit. However, if you have an interest in WWII history, you should inquire about its status when you get to Bordeaux.

I enjoyed both the Musee d'Aquitaine and the Musee des Beaux-Arts.

The wine town of St-Emilion is quite touristy down at the bottom of the hill, but I rode to the top of the hill on the little shuttle pseudo-train that runs between the train station and the town, and it was a lot quieter up there. I spent multiple hours just walking around. Some of that walking was quite steep (albeit downhill) and on cobblestones. The cobblestones were slippery after a light shower; you need to be careful if you go to St-Emilion on a wet day.

Are you renting a car for your time in the Dordogne? That will make your lives a lot easier and your trip more efficient.

Posted by
2250 posts

We spent 6 nights in Bordeaux last fall and I really enjoyed it. We were on the same tour as poster Pam above (different departure date but same itinerary). I loved the city. It was great for strolling, the riverfront area was very nice, and the pedestrian pathways were hopping with people, restaurants and shopping. It is a very lively and fun place and, having no expectations of the city, I was charmed.

We also loved Les Bassins does Lumieres - which is a light art exhibit built into the frame of an old World War II submarine base built by the Germans. The light/art show in this place is spectacular…the scale/size of the thing was so impressive.

@acraven mentions the Centre Jean Moulin, which was high on my list of sites. When we finally found the correct building it was abandoned and derelict-looking. It has been closed for some time and there is no plan to reopen that our guide could sort out.

Make sure you eat the city pastry specialty - a canale, a vanilla mini-cake thing - soft, tender custard center and a caramelized crust. Some days I ate 4 or 5 of these things!

Posted by
4720 posts

Ok, so you'll definitely pass thru Bordeaux, and 2 nights there (taken from Dordogne) would be well-spent. But no more, in my opinion - and opinions about Bordeaux vary wildly.

From where do you plan to fly to Slovenia or Croatia, by the way?

Posted by
330 posts

If you live in Napa Valley, you might be interested in how the wine trade in Bordeaux developed over the centuries. I enjoyed La Musée du Vin et du Négoce (not to be confused with the larger and more modern Cité du Vin).

I lived in Bourgogne at the time and it was fascinating how different the wine business is in Bordeaux compared to Bourgogne. It reinforced my impression that the wine business in California is more similar to Bordeaux, whereas the wine business in Oregon more resembles Bourgogne. And those similarities go beyond the types of wine those regions produce, but the scale of the operation and other aspects. I found it very interesting.