10 Things You MUST Do in Bordeaux


Updated on Jan 30 • 4 minute read

So, the time has come to start planning for your studies abroad, and perhaps you are considering Bordeaux, or maybe you have already applied to one of its culturally-rich universities. Whatever the case, you will quickly find that Bordeaux will make an excellent choice for your international exchange!

Bordeaux is an alluring city that is located in the southwest of France. Affectionately dubbed "Little Paris", due to its beautiful buildings and its delectable food, it boasts things that even the City of Lights cannot offer. With lovely beaches less than an hour’s ride away by car, you can also expect to enjoy one of the world’s finest wine regions. In short, you could pick a lot worse places for your studies.

However, during your time in Bordeaux, you won’t want to skip a thing, but missing a “must do” in this beautiful city is unforgivable. So let’s explore 10 things that will make your time in Bordeaux much more memorable.

1. Be a Tourist for the Day

The chances are that you may be brand new to this remarkable place, so being a tourist, even just for a day, is perfectly acceptable. Spend some time admiring the 18th-century architecture at La place de la Bourse, and don’t leave without taking in its beautiful Water Mirror. You should also explore the Tour Pey-Berland, a Gothic bell tower with one of the best panoramic views in all of Bordeaux. And let’s not forget the Grand Theatre, which is one of the oldest theatres throughout Europe, with a wonderful calendar of shows and events as well.

2. Go Biking

Biking is definitely the preferred mode of transportation, so the best way to fit in with the locals is to get around the city in the same way! Luckily, you can even rent a free bicycle with Vcub, so you can move around the city and see the quays, cross over the bridge and enjoy everything Bordeaux’s historical center.

3. Shop til You Drop

Shopping is a real attraction in Bordeaux, with a wide variety of unique shops and large centers to provide anything and everything that you could possibly need. Venture out to the Quais des Marques, where you will find over 400 brands of designer clothing at prices that will even please the budget-conscious. Another great area for finding bargains is the Rue Sainte Catherine, with a variety of retail stores, coffee shops and the best cookies in the city at La Mie Caline.

4. Gaze at the Architecture

Often compared to Paris, but without quite so many tourists, Bordeaux has its fair share of breathtaking architecture. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, many visitors have even referred to it as a more relaxed, yet just as attractive version of the French capital.

To really witness the most intricate architecture in Bordeaux, be sure to visit the National Opera House, with its 18th-century classic French style, and the Roman ruins at Palais Gallien. The Saint-André Cathedral, constructed in 1096, is also worth a visit.

5. Have a Drink … or Three

Bordeaux offers many pubs, bars and nightclubs, great for enjoying a cool drink on a warm day or getting acquainted with new friends. One of the most popular spots is Darwin Ecosystem. While a bit expensive, after one visit, you’ll understand why the atmosphere is a huge draw for its patrons.

Darwin is also a depot which includes a large skate park, a grocery store and a delicious restaurant with a lovely terrace. At night, you can expect sets from area DJs, along with concerts and parties.

6. Explore New Places

As you meet your classmates and begin looking for fun things to do, Bordeaux has its fair share of entertainment. Be sure to check out I.BOAT, which is a ferry with three decks, offering a fantastic spot to relax, have a meal, enjoy a drink and listen to music. Also think about spending time at Jardin Park, with its acres of green space and twisting walking or running trails.

7. Eat Your Fill

You probably already know that France is known for its food, and Bordeaux is no exception. However, what you may not be aware of is that this city is known for its brunch! One of the best places to really indulge is PLUME Bakery and Coffee, boasting a fulfilling meal at around 20€.

8. Catch Some Rays

Bordeaux may not be right on the beach, but you can take the bus or rent a car to get to Bordeaux Lac. You can also catch a train to Arcachon, with its Atlantic coast, long stretches of warm sand and an invigorating vibe. Just a bit south, you can also visit the Dune of Pilat, the largest dune in all of Europe.

9. Indulge in the Wine

But when you think of Bordeaux, your mind probably goes straight to the wine. There are several popular wine bars, such as La Cité du Vin. You can also try Wine More Time, where you can taste dozens and dozens of French reds, rosés and whites. But if you’re really on a budget, drop into a grocery store like Carrefour’s Rosé for a bottle.

10. Find the Perfect Housing

Locating the ideal housing arrangement can make or break your time studying abroad. Housing in Bordeaux is in high demand, so it’s extremely important to start your search early — at least three months before you begin your classes at the university. Rental platforms like Housing Anywhere offer a variety of options for students searching for rooms in numerous locations, and you can even set up alerts to inform you when something matching your preferences has been listed.

Spending a semester or two in Bordeaux will definitely be one of the most remarkable experiences of your life, and you probably can’t wait for the adventure to begin! Be sure to keep an eye out online for additional information to help you with your relocation. The wonders of Bordeaux await!

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Ready for your adventure?