When Dan and I arrived in Bordeauxfor a long weekend, we ended up with about an hour to kill before meeting our Airbnb host in the Saint-Michel neighborhood. Bordeaux’s Saint-Michel neighborhood is located just south of the main tourist area. Saint-Michel is beautiful, charming and eclectic part of Bordeaux, with, in addition to French, a mix of Middle Eastern, North African and Latin influence.
After disembarking the tram at the Porte Bourgogne stop, we walked up and down Cours Victor Hugo in search of a sit down restaurant that could accommodate our luggage. As a side note, I LOVE planning meals and not having a set place to go with good reviews was really stressing me out! After passing many, many take out Turkish restaurants we stumbled upon Los Dos Hermanos, what appeared to be a Spanish restaurant with a hand written menu and outdoor seating that would accommodate our luggage – sold.
Although I have traveled extensively throughout France, I had never been it to Bordeaux! So when Dan and I spent 10 days in France this past summer, we made Bordeaux the highlight of our trip, spending 4 days and nights exploring Bordeaux and the surrounding area. We had a wonderful time, and found Bordeaux to be a lovely, beautiful and manageable city!
Gorgeous Bordeaux streets!
Bordeaux is sizeable city on the Garonne River in Southwestern France. In additional to being what many would call the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux is a university city that has a very young and very French feel – and in a great way! Despite its wine fame, Bordeaux is not overrun with tourists and offers a realistic French experience, especially as opposed to many of France’s other big tourists sites.
Of the countless wine-related activities available to tourists in Bordeaux, France, one of the most worthwhile wine-related activities in Bordeaux is a wine course, and preferably early on in your visit to Bordeaux! Dan and I commenced our four-day stay in Bordeaux with a wine course at Max Bordeaux Wine Gallery and our experience certainly shaped our time in Bordeaux! Here we are entering Max Bordeaux, and is fabulous wineglass ceiling is featured in the cover picture!
Médoc is one of the most famous Bordeaux wine regions, possibly only second in fame to St. Émilion. Médoc is located northwest of Bordeaux, on the left bank of the Gironde River, and Médoc is further separated into many sub regions (it gets very technical)! In short (you could talk about this forever), each sub region has a specific terroir – a French word describing the air, sun, rain, soil, etc. in that specific region that gives grapes grown there a particular taste. On our visit, we visited two châteaux, one in the Listrac-Médoc and one in Margaux. Both châteauxs specialized in bold red wines, with lots of cabernet sauvignon grapes!
As you may know from reading my Wine Cruising to Sauternespost, there are, to many tourists surprise, no vineyards or wine châteaux in the city of Bordeaux! All of the châteaux that make the famous “Bordeaux wine” are located in designated areas around Bordeaux. St. Émilion is one of those areas and in my opinion, is the easiest and best Bordeaux wine region to visit on your own (i.e. without joining a tour) from Bordeaux!
St. Emilion vineyards
St. Émilion is world renowned for its full-bodied red wines. But St. Émilion is also an extremely well preserved medieval town that is complete with a unique system underground passageways, wine cellars and even an underground church! As you can imagine, St. Émilion is a very popular day trip from Bordeaux and all of the tour companies offer day trips to St. Émilion from Bordeaux, starting €80,00/person and going up from there. However, St. Émilion is easily accessible from Bordeaux by train on your own, so that is what we did. St. Émilion was my favorite day trip out of Bordeaux and a “must do” for anyone in the area!
Before visiting Bordeaux, I googled lots of “where to eat in Bordeaux”/“best restaurant in Bordeaux,” etc. blogs and read numerous Bordeaux restaurant reviews, and let me tell you, there are a lot of fabulous restaurants in and around Bordeaux, including a number of Michelin starred restaurants! Choosing the right Bordeaux restaurant can be quite overwhelming, and can take up a good bit of your time.
Dan and I visited the city of Bordeaux and its surrounding wine regions in June 2016. For those unfamiliar with Bordeaux wine, there are no actual vineyards in the city of Bordeaux (it is a regular city with a large university). The famous “Bordeaux wine” comes from a number of small regions surrounding Bordeaux. Wines take their name from the specific small region in which their grapes are grown, and the flavor of grapes that make up the wine derives from the “terroir” of each specific area (roughly translated as a combination of the soil content, temperature, rain fall, sunlight, etc. of the individual region). See the map of the many wine regions and sub-regions surrounding Bordeaux: