Weekend in Bordeaux – Ultimate Bordeaux Must See Activities

Last Updated on 17/02/2024 by secretmoona

Weekend in Bordeaux | SecretMoona

Bordeaux is not only the World Capital of Wine but also the second city in France with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites. The beautiful and vibrant city is a perfect weekend getaway destination. Among the many Bordeaux must see and activities you could do such as wandering around the city, appreciating the architecture and cultural sites, you can also enjoy a visit to one the most famous vineyards in the world or spend the day at the beach. Whether you are travelling with your family, as a couple, solo or with friends, spending a weekend in Bordeaux is sure to be entertaining. Here are the best things to do in Bordeaux, France.

Our Bordeaux must-see 3-day itinerary is perfect for exploring both the city and the surrounding area. I recommend adding a day or two to enjoy more sights and venture further into the countryside.

  • Day 1: Explore Old Town
  • Day 2: Discover Bassin d’Arcachon and Dune du Pilat
  • Day 3: Morning with locals at a market

Weekend in Bordeaux Day 1 – Exploring the Old Town 

The first day of our weekend break in Bordeaux was spent exploring the old town. We arrived on a Friday afternoon, and although the weather wasn’t great (it was drizzling), we managed to see most of the main sites. The best thing about Bordeaux is that all the important points of interest are concentrated in the same area, thus making it ideal for those who like to explore on foot.

Tour Pey-Berland & Cathédrale Saint-André

Bordeaux must see - beautiful architecture

Situated close to the Hotel De Ville (Town Hall), Pey-Berland Tower and Saint-André cathedral are must-sees while in Bordeaux. Pey-Berland is a freestanding bell tower located by the cathedral. Built in the 15th century and rising to 66m, the tower offers a panoramic view over the city after climbing the 229 stairs. It’s not an easy climb but well worth the effort because the view of the city is outstanding. The ticket is 6 euros but free if you are under 26 (EU citizens or residents) or have the Bordeaux City Pass. Tip: only climb on a clear and bright day.

In a Gothic style, the Roman Catholic cathedral is equally beautiful inside and outside. Having amassed impressive treasures within its religious edifices, the clergy displays them for the public to see twice weekly.

  • Address: Place Pey-Berland 
  • Pey-Berland Tower is open day – Entry 6€, free for under 26s
  • The cathedral is open Wednesdays and Saturdays (PM). Entry is 2€, with free entry for under 12s. 

Place de la Bourse & Miroir d’Eau

Weekend in Bordeaux Top activity: Place de la Bourse & Miroir d’Eau
Place de la Bourse & Miroir d’Eau

Miroir d’Eau (Water Mirror) is Bordeaux’s most popular and photographed place. So, something not to miss out on during your weekend break to Bordeaux. Located across the road from Place de la Bourse, Miroir d’Eau is, in fact, a reflecting pool.

Why is the place among the top things to do in Bordeaux? Simply because when the water recedes underground, it creates a shiny surface, which helps the magnificent buildings of Place de la Bourse to reflect on it, creating a magical sight. Kids, adults, locals and tourists alike love this work of art. 

The buildings of Place de la Bourse were built in the 18th century to open up the city’s fortified medieval walls. They consist of three separate buildings: Hôtel de la Bourse, Hôtel des Fermes and the central pavilion. 

Address: 2-8, place de la Bourse

Admire Grosse Cloche

Weekend in Bordeaux things to do: see Grosse Cloche
Grosse Cloche

Grosse Cloche, which means “big bell” in English, is one of the oldest belfries in France. The 7,750 kg bell christened “Armande-Louise (all French bells have a name) rings only on the first Sunday of each month, and celebrations like January 1, May 8, July 14 for Bastille Day, August 28th, which marks the 1944 liberation of Bordeaux and November 11th. The gate where the bell is hung served as a prison for young people who failed to respect the city’s curfew or public order. Visitors can visit the tower and “haunted” dungeons.

Address: 1 rue Saint-James – The Tourist Office offers a guided tour every day from June to September (PM); on Saturdays from March to May, October and November only on reservation at the Tourist Office (the guided tour is only in French)

Place des Quinconces (monument des Girondins)

Monument des Girondins at Place des Quinconces - Bordeaux must see
Monument des Girondins

Head to Places des Quinconces, situated in the heart of Bordeaux, to see the Monument des Girondins. The monument sitting in one of the largest squares in Europe, was erected in memory of the Girondists who fell during the French Revolution. 

The square houses lots of events throughout the year, so depending on your travel dates, you might find a fun fair, antique fair or a big open space like we did. The esplanade is also a major transport hub with trams, buses and coaches passing through.

You will undoubtedly pass through at some point during your weekend in Bordeaux, so you should make a special trip there to soak up the sunshine (weather permitting) or walk beneath the trees towards the Garonne River.  

Visit Place de la Comédie

Weekend in Bordeaux things to do: Place de la Comédie
Place de la Comédie on a rainy day

The Place de la Comédie is the square where most of the streets in Bordeaux join. You can head to the Monument aux Girondins on Place des Quinconces or shop on the famous Rue Sainte Catherine. The square is home to the Grand Théâtre and the luxury hotel Intercontinental Grand Hotel de Bordeaux.

The majestic theatre – rebuilt in 1773 after a fire – is where you can hear the Opéra National de Bordeaux perform. The building has twelve columns.  

Grand Théâtre is an unmissable architectural marvel in Bordeaux. Go check out the huge woman’s face or simply sit on the terrace of a restaurant and enjoy people going by their business.   

Place de la Victoire

Weekend in Bordeaux: Things to see: Place de la Comédie
Place de la Victoire

Place de la Victoire is another one of Bordeaux’s busy squares. The Porte d’Aquitaine (gate) stands proudly in the square with a 16-meter pillar and a giant turtle sculpture. The column and turtle are recent additions. While the pillar is a monument dedicated to wine and viticulture, the turtle represents the slow but steady rise of the wine industry. It’s frequented by young university students since it’s the start of Rue Sainte-Catherine. There is also an antique book sale on Fridays.

Walk Through Porte Cailhau 

Weekend in Bordeaux: Things to see: Porte Cailhau
Porte Cailhau, the miniature castle

One of the main entrances to medieval Bordeaux, Porte Cailhau is one of the city’s most beautiful pieces of architecture. The 15th-century gate served as both a defensive gate and an arch of victory and dominance, celebrating the King of France Charles VIII’s victory in Italy. You can go inside, check out the small museum and enjoy the view over the river, quay and more.

Address: Place du Palais – Open daily – Entrance: 5 € (free for under 12s or holder of Bordeaux City Pass)

Weekend in Bordeaux Day 2 – Discovering locale and cultural sites

What would a weekend in France be without a stroll in a market? So, for our second day in Bordeaux, we decided to spend some time doing things like the locals, shopping, and visiting the Marché des Capucins. 

Marché des Capucins

If you are fascinated by French markets and the variety of things on sale, I recommend stopping by Marché des Capucins. It’s the biggest daily market in Bordeaux, so expect to find everything from fruits and vegetables, fish, meat and poultry counters, cheese, bread, etc…

The covered market is open daily, but you can see locals doing their weekly shopping on the weekend. 

We loved checking out the different stalls. There are lots of places where you can eat. Whether you are looking for some charcuterie, seafood (oysters, prawns and whelks) or tapas, you are sure to find a nice place to sit down and eat. Locals usually enjoy a serving of oysters with a glass of white wine. We couldn’t resist but copied them, so we sat at a packed terrace and ordered some oysters served with lemon and yummy fresh bread. Followed by a serving of whelks and king prawns.

Saint-Michel flea market

Following on from Marche des Capucins, you can explore another market: the flea market located in the Saint-Michel neighbourhood. It’s open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It’s a nice market to check out if you like vintage items. If you love antiques, this place is right for you, as several antique shops are nearby. There are many other things to do and see in the area, like the Basilica of Saint Michel and Flèche Saint-Michel, a bell tower. Both are situated in Place Meynard, which is surrounded by cafes and restaurants.

Rue Sainte Catherine

Weekend in Bordeaux? Shopping heaven at Rue Sainte Catherine
Shopping on the longest shopping street

If you want to get a little bit of the French chic while in Bordeaux, you have to stroll along Rue Sainte Catherine. It’s the longest pedestrian street in Europe, full of clothes stores and other boutiques. If you start from Place de la Victoire, you will find cheap clothing stores reminiscent of clothes you will find in markets. You will also find lots of fast food restaurants and even naan kebabs!

Towards the middle of the long street, you will find the typical high street chains like H&M, Maje, Sandro and Galeries Lafayette. For high-end clothes, head to Passage Sainte Catherine. Clothes in Bordeaux are less expensive than in Paris or London, so make the most of it!

Cité du Vin

Cité du Vin is a must see in Bordeaux
Cité du Vin

Had we had more time in Bordeaux, I would have ventured into the Chartrons neighbourhood and seen the Cité du Vin (Wine City) further down the Garonne River and the beautiful parks. The high-tech, futuristic wine museum has modernised Bordeaux’s skyline. You can join a wine-tasting workshop, learn about wine from all around the world, and visit the massive wine cellar. If you are not a wine lover, you can have dinner in the 7 Restaurant, located on the 7th floor of the museum.

Other things to do 


With so many classified and listed buildings in Bordeaux, it’s no wonder that the city has a large number of museums. If you have more time, add one or two to your itinerary, especially when it’s raining. Some of the museums to check out are:

  • Marine Museum – the Musée Mer Marine is where you can learn all about the history of men at sea through artworks, maps, marine objects, model boats and scenography. It’s a great place to take children. Address: Bassin à Flot, 89 rue des Etrangers, 33300 Bordeaux
  • Natural History Museum – One of the largest in France, it offers permanent and temporary exhibitions, multimedia shows and workshops. It recently opened after a major renovation. Address: 5 place Bardineau 33000 Bordeaux 
  • Museum of Decorative Arts of Bordeaux – housed in a beautiful historic townhouse- is home to collections of furniture, ceramics and many other objects dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Address: 39 Rue Bouffard
  • Musée d’Aquitaine – If you are a History buff and are interested in learning all about Bordeaux’s past from the Stone Age to the modern day, Musée d’Aquitaine is the place to visit. If you want to learn about the history and archaeology of Bordeaux and its region (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), this is your best source. Address: 20 Cours Pasteur
  • Explore the city’s street art scene

Admire some street art

Like Montpellier, Ghent or Glasgow, I couldn’t visit Bordeaux without checking out the street art scene. If you are interested in seeing more of the colourful creations, have a look at Street Art Bordeaux Facebook page or join a street art walking tour with the Bordeaux Tourist Office. Some of the places you can see graffiti (detailed location map here) are Thiers Benauge, the Skatepark Hangar Darwin near Cité du Vin or Quai de Paludate.

Colourful reptile eye mural - Bordeaux must see street art
Mural in Bordeaux must see (street art)

Go for a stroll

There is nothing better than taking a stroll in Bordeaux. The city is definitely a city for strolling. After wandering around the city, make your way towards the river banks. There’s a lively riverside market on Quai des Chartrons where you can (like in the other market) sit down to relax and enjoy a glass of wine with oysters. In addition to taking in the open views, take time to appreciate the fact that Bordeaux is void of skyscrapers. Thanks to Mayor Alain Juppé banning high-rise buildings by the banks.

Weekend in Bordeaux Day 3 – Day trip to Arcachon or Saint-Emilion

There are plenty of amazing day trip options from Bordeaux. We decided to use our last day to venture outside of Bordeaux. We wanted to make a short getaway to the sea or explore the vineyards. If you have more time to spend in Bordeaux, check out the other day trip options.


Weekend in Bordeaux? Take a day trip to Arcachon Bay
Immaculate Beach in Arcachon

Arcachon is a cute seaside town where pastel-coloured houses have names. It is easily accessible from Saint-Jean station and takes less than 50 minutes for a cost of €7 one way. Arcachon is known for its oyster production and sandy beaches. Since we visited in February, there was pretty much nothing but taking a long walk on the empty beach. In the high season, you can take a boat to Arcachon Bay and see the oyster beds.

After noticing lots of restaurants along the waterfront, we decided to have lunch there. I would recommend Diego, located in front of the beach. The restaurant is beautiful, with delicious food and friendly staff!

Dune du Pilat

Weekend in Bordeaux: See the Dune du Pilat
Dare climb the biggest sand dune in Europe!

A short car drive from Arcachon is the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s biggest and highest sand dune. Stretching over 2.7km and rising to 110m, it’s an impressive sight and a good workout too. When you climb all the way to the top, you will be welcomed with a nice panoramic view over the ocean, forest, Bassin d’Arcachon and Cap Ferret.

Dune du Pilat facing Arcachon Bay

If you visit during the low season like we did, you will have to climb up the sandy slopes, however from May to November, stairs will be installed to help the climbing. To get to Dunes du Pilat via public transport, take Bus 1 (Baia) from Arcachon station. 

Address: Route de Biscarrosse (RD 218) 33115 Pyla-sur-Mer


Whether you are a wine lover or like wandering small villages, you will love the medieval village of Saint-Émilion.  The wine town with cobbled streets and rows after rows of vineyards is a UNESCO-designated site. Aside from wine tasting at a chateau, the attractions of the town are wandering around the streets, grabbing a famed macaron from Ferlion Macarons and taking in the architecture and the beauty of the place. Saint-Émilion is an easy 45-minute drive from Bordeaux, but for a stress-free visit, consider booking this half-day wine tour.

What & Where to Eat in Bordeaux 

Food has an important place in Bordeaux, and the city has many restaurants. As the capital of wine, good restaurants are needed to pair up the wine with the food. Not only would you be able to see all kinds of French restaurants, but you would also experience dishes from other parts of the world, like Asian, African, and Arabian restaurants. 


Canele by La Toque Cuivrée

Canelés are the city’s speciality and are made of pastry flavoured with rum and vanilla. You can find them practically everywhere, especially in the old town. Having said that, some places do better canelés than others. Even though I have only been in the city for 3 days, I managed to make my way through and taste from several shops and bakeries. Pâtisserie San Nicolas and Baillardan are big names but my favourite was by La Toque Cuivrée. They have shops in different areas but if you are on Rue Sainte-Catherine, stop by to get a taste.

Puits d’amour 

Les puits d’amour de la Maison Seguin

Puits d’Amour or ‘wells of love’ in English is a bit-size biscuit made of pâte à choux (light puff pastry) filled first with crème Chiboust (mix of crème pâtissière and Italian meringue) and a layer of crunchy caramel. We initially saw the stall in Marche des Capucins and had to have a taste. That’s what we did. You can buy them individually, which is convenient. They come in two delicious flavours; I recommend you try both. You might as well!


With the largest number of restaurants per inhabitant, Bordeaux is not where you will struggle to find something to eat. This restaurant was recommended to us by some local friends. 

La Tanière

Steak haché, or chopped steak with mushroom sauce
Steak haché with mushroom sauce @ La Taniere

La Tanière is an authentic traditional restaurant. If you’re after good food, a cosy atmosphere and great value, this is for you. Plus, the serving is huge!

La Tanière, 41 Quai Richelieu

Le Chien de Pavlov

We were recommended Le Chien de Pavlov. The menu is ever-changing depending on the available ingredients. The little bistro is a local favourite.  Sadly it was packed when we went so I would recommend you make a reservation.

Le Chien de Pavlov, 45 Rue de la Devise. 

Babette Restaurant

Cheese soufflé at Babette restaurant
Cheese soufflé @ Babette

Babette is a concept store and restaurant linked to Hilton by Garden Inn. When I dine in a hotel restaurant, it’s usually because it’s very late or the weather is too bad to go out. We had initially planned on eating at La Boca but couldn’t find a place to sit, so we went back to the hotel. We noticed the restaurant was busy during lunch, so we decided to try it. Babette proved to be a pleasant surprise, with great food and friendly service. I had the souffle, which was divine, while my cousin had the slow-cooked braised beef cheek. It’s so tender that it melts in your mouth.

Babette Concept Store Bordeaux, 207 Quai de Paludate

La Boca Food Court

Where to Eat during weekend in Bordeaux? La Boca FoodCourt
LaBoca FoodCourt

It’s a food hall with more than 10 restaurants. You will find anything from Asian noodles and sushi bars to American burgers, Spanish tapas, French patisserie, and seafood bars. Here, people eat at communal tables, which is ideal for groups. The place is cashless, so you can either pay by card, which you get from a machine at the entrance, or via the La Boca app.

La Boca FoodCourt, Euratlantique, Quai de Paludate

Where to stay in Bordeaux

Standard room at Hilton Garden Inn Bordeaux

If you are planning a weekend in Bordeaux (or three/four days in Bordeaux), make sure to book well in advance. Prices can go off the roof quickly, especially if an event occurs. We stayed at Hilton Garden Inn, located 10 minutes walk from Saint Jean station. Although it’s a good 15 minutes from the city centre, it’s a great hotel. Here are some other places we’ve come across during our research: Hotel du Theatre, Mama Shelter Bordeaux, Ydon Hotel, Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel and Seeko’o.

Practical information for your weekend in Bordeaux

How to get to Bordeaux

One of the best parts about travelling to Bordeaux is how cheap the train and flights cost are! 

By train: 

If you are travelling from Paris Montparnasse, the good news is that Bordeaux Saint Jean Station is only 2h30 away on the TGV. Also, thanks to OuiGo, you can get a fare as little as 10€ each way. How cool is that! You can also travel from other cities in France or Spain via the cheaper Regional TER or the Intercity trains.

Weekend in Bordeaux must see - Bordeaux train station: Saint Jean

By plane:  

If you are flying from the rest of France or Europe, be sure to check the best fares via Skyscanner. I flew from London with British Airways and managed to grab an unbeatable £30 each way! With a flight time of only 1 hour and 20 minutes, you have no reason not to book a little city break.

Upon arrival at Bordeaux Merignac, you can either take Lianes bus 1+ to the city centre or the shuttle bus. The city bus costs 1.70€ and takes about an hour to get to Saint Jean Station, while the Keolis shuttle at 8€ takes half the time.  You can also take a taxi, but it will cost you about 35/45€ depending on your final location.

By bus:

If taking the bus is no problem, know that Flexibus and Eurolines have direct services to Bordeaux. The bus stop is in Quai de Paludate, close to the train station. 

Getting around:

On foot: Although Bordeaux is a big city, the places of interest are all centred in the same area, the old town, making it perfect to explore the city on foot.

By bus or tram: Bordeaux has no metro system but excellent buses and tram systems. Tickets cost about €1.6 for a single ticket (note that you allow unlimited transfer between buses and trams within an hour window, but you must validate your ticket each time). If you are planning to use public transport more than three times, it would be beneficial and more cost effective to buy a daily pass €4.6 or pack of 5/10 tickets for €6.70/€12.70.

Map of Bordeaux

I fell in love with Bordeaux. I loved the small size, beautiful architecture (mix of old and modern), delicious restaurants and the atmosphere.

Travel Tips and Resources 🧳

Here are some of my favourite travel tips and resources.

  • 🛫Flights: I’m all about snapping the best deals when booking flights. Therefore, I use Google Flights and Skyscanner to get the best deals each time. I also use AirHelp to receive compensation for delayed and cancelled flights.
  • 🚆Trains: I love using Trainline to book trains within Europe.
  • 🛏Accommodations: Booking.com, Agoda, and Trivago are my favourite sites for great hotels and private home deals. They offer many hotels, including luxury accommodations and private homes.
  • 🚙Car Rentals: Renting a car is ideal when travelling to remote destinations. For these, I love renting cars through Discover Cars. They offer some great options for affordable rentals, and their customer service is one the best.
  • 🎟Tours and Experiences: Visiting a new place also means getting to experience and do many things. I usually book tours via GetYourGuide or TripAdvisor. If you like doing things solo, WeGoTrip offers audio tours and excursions.
  • 💳Travel Insurance: Travelling without proper travel insurance is not recommended. I always travel with one. Use VisitorsCoverage to compare and get the best travel insurance policy for you.

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

24 thoughts on “Weekend in Bordeaux – Ultimate Bordeaux Must See Activities

  1. Wow. Your photos are STUNNING! Bordeaux looks absolutely beautiful. Every single sight is breathtaking. I can’t decide what I want to visit most. Porte Cailhau would definitely be at the top of my list as well as the Musée d’Aquitaine and the Marine Museum.

    1. Thanks Erica. It’s hard to choose with so many stunning buildings but I have to say that Porte Cailhau was my favourite 😉

  2. I´m so happy I came across this post as we are heading on a road trip through France, with Bordeaux being high on the top of places we want to visit. Bookmarking this post, so excited to be going there soon. Thanks for sharing, very useful x

    1. Thank you! Hope you have a fab time during your road trip. Be sure to stop by Bordeaux and Arcachon. Both are worth a trip!

  3. Aww Mayi, your posts are so dangerous. I have already visited this area quite a lot, but you always show me lots more things that I should do!! Reading your posts always makes me want to go back to places I already know. You and your photos are awesome.

    p.s Those sand dunes are sooo cool!

    1. Thanks Josy! The sand dunes were really cool. I would love to go back in summer and have a picnic there overlooking the ocean. Dreamy!

  4. Your pictures are stunning! Have been to France a few times but never managed to make it to Bordeaux – now certainly adding for to list with travel destinations.

  5. I just love the architecture in Europe and Bordeaux looks like it has plenty of beautiful architecture to enjoy! Not only do I want to go there to sip wine, but now I also want to try the Canelés that you mentioned!

  6. You’ve captured the charms of Bordeaux so beautifully in this informative post. I didn’t know until I read your post that Bordeaux has so many UNESCO heritage sites. This itinerary will help us plan our trip there for sure.

  7. oh wow! Bordeaux was not really on my radar but gosh it looks lovely! Think the boyfriends has been. I love wine so would have to check out Cité du Vin. Otherwise, think just wondering around and seeing the gorgeous architecture would make a lovely weekend!

  8. Bordeaux is high on my France bucket list. Whenever I go back to France, I definitely want to make my way here. I usually hear more about the wineries in this area, it’s nice to see what else there is to do in the city. 🙂

  9. This is a fantastic guide! We had to cancel a trip to Bordeaux a couple of years ago so I didn’t manage to put together an itinerary – this post will be really helpful for when I re-plan it!

  10. Bordeaux looks like a beautiful city and I love the ideas you’ve touched upon. There’s such a fascinating range of architecture – thanks for putting it all on my radar!

  11. Bordeaux looks so stunning – I’ve been thinking about visiting it & I think that I really should! Also, I had no idea about the dunes! So fun!

  12. This looks like a great place to spend some time. Bordeaux is a city I don’t know much about, but your post was so comprehensive!

  13. Fantastic, informative post with gorgeous photos! Thanks for this, I have not visited this part of France before, but would really love to some day.

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