Not to miss sights in the Bordeaux region
• The Miroir d'eau reflecting pool in Bordeaux
Bordeaux loves mixing the classic and the contemporary—the "Mirror of Water" is a stunning example that proves it. Installed facing the Place de la Bourse, this slab of granite covered with water plays with the aquatic reflections. It's total magic (and really instagramable ;) )!
• The Cité du Vin wine heritage centre in Bordeaux
This boldly shaped building contains a very particular museum. On 3000m2 (32291.73 ft2), a free course, through 20 thematic and interactive areas, allows you to discover the eponymous wine in all its richness.
• The CAPC museum of modern art
How to reconcile a place steeped in history and a museum of contemporary art? Ask CAPC, housed in a former warehouse of colonial commodities, which exhibits nearly 200 artists and 1300 works.
• Cap Ferret
Cap Ferret is a forest and wild peninsula, home to a chic and relaxed atmosphere, on one side bordered by the calm waters of the Arcachon basin, and on the other by the crashing waves of the Atlantic. Its 11 oyster-farming villages have whimiscal names, like L’Herbe (The Grass),the Canon (le Canon), the Vine (La Vigne) and the Oven (le Four).
• The vineyards of the Médoc
Médoc is Mecca of powerful red wines, the terroir of grands crus such as Margaux, Pauillac and Saint-Julien. The châteaux route of Médoc: a must-visit for any wine lover!
• The Gironde estuary and its traditional carrelet fishing huts
The widest estuary in France—75 kilometers (46 miles long) and 12 (7.5) wide, this is the meeting place of the Garonne and the Dordogne. Enamelled with several islands, the Gironde is dotted with more than 200 carrelet fishing huts, the namesake fishing nets stretched in front of charming wooden cabanas.
• Arcachon Bay
The Arcachon basin forms a small inland sea, an oasis for fishing and oyster farming. The bourgeois touch of Arcachon is clear, boasting finely wrought villas of the late 19th century that face the wild tip of Cap Ferret. Between the two, a string of a dozen small towns await discover by sea via pinasse (luxury boats of the area), or by road.
• The Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site
Brand new! The viticultural landscape of St Emilion has been inscribed on Unesco's Heritage List, due to the intact preservation of its 11 century history.
• The Dune of Pilat
From the top of its 115 meters (378 feet), the dune is the entrance of the basin of Arcachon, between the ocean and forest. Race to the top, partly via stairs: the view is just sublime over the beach of the Corniche, Banc d'Arguin, Cap Ferret, the sea of pines and the blue horizon.
Of course, the city on the banks of the Charente is known for its vineyard and eponymous brandy with its refined bouquet, but it will also charm you with its rich 18th and 19th century architecture and its Baltard-inspired market.
Things to do in the Bordeaux region
• Start the Bordeaux wine trail in Graves and Sauternes
This is just one of the six Bordeaux wine routes to discover, and 38 key appellations: Medoc (St Estèphe, Pauillac, Margaux), Sauternes and Graves (Pessac-Léognan), Saint-Laurent Emilion, Blaye (Côtes de Blaye) and Bourg, Entre-deux-mers (Cadillac), and the Libournais (Pomerol, Fronsac).
• Surf the waves at Lacanau
Lacanau is the ultimate surf destination in France, known worldwide by the pros for the quality of its waves. But there are other very popular spots on the 126 kilometers (78 miles) of Gironde beaches, such as Carcans Beach, Verdon sur mer, Hourtin, Soulac and Cap Ferret (Green Tip, Grand Crohot, etc.)
• Climb aboard for a river cruise departing from Blaye
Embark from the foothills of the Blaye citadel, and navigate to the secret islands of the Gironde and the lighthouse of Patiras, which served as a guide for those navigating the estuary. This is a totally unique river trip in France.
• Drink (moderately) to the wonder of wine at the Grande Biennale in Bordeaux
During the Big Biennale "Bordeaux fête le vin," Bordeaux wine festival held every two years in June (the next one is in 2020), the party is in full swing on the quays of Bordeaux! It's here that winemakers settle down to taste their products, with a Tasting Pass entry. The fête is an unmissable event for lovers of wine, local gastronomy and culture.
• Push your limits at the Médoc Marathon
Drink and run, it's possible! Through 42.2 kilometers (26.22 miles), the route runs through the vineyards of Pauillac, Saint Julien and Saint Estèphe. A festive atmosphere is guaranteed, and disguises are recommended.
• Travel back in time on a visit to the citadel and fortifications in Blaye
Bordeaux was well protected, particularly by the Verrou de l'Estuaire (the Estuary's Bolt), built by Vauban, as well as the citadel of Blaye, Fort Pâté and Fort Médoc. This famous fortified triptych is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
• Dress up to the nines for an evening at the Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux
Put on the ritz: The Grand Theater is an emblematic monument of Bordeaux. Dates from the 18th century, the dome of the theater is reminiscent of the Opera House of Versailles, enamelled in shades of blue and gold.
• Enjoy a plate of oysters hidden away in a beach hut at Arcachon
In Arcachon, and around the basin, a snack break is required to one of the many oyster huts dotting the region. A dozen oysters, served in rustic simplicity, accompanied by some whelks or shrimp and a glass of white wine is the taste of Arcachon.
• Let it all go in a vinotherapy spa
A grape a day keeps the doctor away—rich in polyphenols, their seeds help regenerate cells. Plunge into a hot water bath, mixed with grape and vine extracts, or luxuriate in a wrap made from wine yeast. In vino veritas!
• Learn the art of blending cognac at a mixology workshop
Like champagne, cognac is only from Cognac. Follow the recipes of winemakers and bartenders to create new cocktails, mixing it with other ingredients (fruit juice, syrup, lemon, cardamom, honey, etc.). Santé!