Whilst my suitcase was barely unpacked from my trip to Budapest back in September I was already hunting down the next adventure. Then came along the Ryanair sale and before I had the chance to stop myself, a cheap flight to Bordeaux was booked – ooops!
I don’t often get to travel this time of year, due to previous work commitments, so the opportunity to spend the “Black Friday” weekend away from the hustle and bustle of crazy Christmas shoppers was something I was not going to pass up.
Bordeaux provided the perfect opportunity to escape the madness!
Located in the Aquitaine region, in southwestern France, this UNESCO listed city has oodles of charm with its 18th – 19th century Gothic architecture and of course being the capital of wine it is the perfect location to experience a variety of wine tasting.
Unsurprisingly, with my love of wine, my first port of call was Cité du Vin – a unique museum dedicated to the heritage of wine located on the banks of the Garonne. I decided to work up my thirst by taking a long walk round, crossing the Pont de Pierre bridge and taking in the river views from the west side of the city.
Within minutes of setting across the bridge it was clear to see that Bordeaux is a city full of active residents. I lost count of how many runners passed me en-route to Cité du Vin. There were so many, I actually thought that there must be some kind of race taking place. However, I quickly discovered that residents just have a love for running – and who would not want to run in such a picturesque city? The flat route along the Garonne offers such views, with plenty to keep your mind occupied.
Crossing back over the river saw me walking over the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge and offering the most perfect view of Cité du Vin as a result.
You will need to allow yourself around two hours to enjoy all the exhibits the museum has to offer. For twenty euros you can work your way around the attraction at your own pace, with a personal guide to assist you. Then take yourself up to the eight floor, as included in the cost of your ticket is a wine tasting with panoramic views of the city.
For any wine lover it is the perfect place to spend your first few hours in Bordeaux.
It is easy to cover some considerable distance during your time in the city. And I certainly did that after my visit to the museum. Heading back along the Garonne I took my time wondering the streets, taking in the 18th century architecture and all the beautiful sights.
You cannot miss the Place de la Bourse whilst walking along the river bank. The impressive landmark square, with the world’s largest reflecting pool of Miroir d’eau.
This was an area that has to be visited in daylight and then again at night. It is simply magical.
Wonder a little further into the main hub of the city and you will spend hours strolling along Rue de Catherine. The shopping hub of this city offers a mix of recognisable clothing retailers, boutique shops, cafes and chocolate shops. I spent many hours wondering, window shopping and purchasing chocolate and macarons to take home.
In the vicinity you will also find the Grand Theatre, Cathedral Saint-Andre, Monument aux Girondins and Port Calihau – all equally impressive, especially lit up with Christmas trees and lights at this time of year.
It you like a little nature I thoroughly recommend visiting Jardin Public! The gardens here are small, but ever so beautiful. With the changing of seasons, they provided such a stunning backdrop for a leisurely afternoon stroll.
With thirteen miles covered I decided to call it a day – heading back to the hotel for a little rest and recuperation, along with plenty of wine of course.
The second day’s plans saw me pick up a half day tour to Saint-Emilion – the charming medieval village located in the heart of the this wine region. The village offers world famous wineries, fine wine, beautiful architecture and fantastic monuments. Booking the day trip with Viator meant that as well as visiting Chateaux Champion for a wine tour and tastings, I also got a guided underground tour of the largest monolithic church in Europe. This picture perfect village is a sight to behold; the views, the history and the vibe completely stole my heart.
Photos simply don’t do it justice. Visiting during the off peak season, during pruning season was somewhat beneficial – the streets were quiet meaning the free time we were given to explore the village was rather blissful. Our guide made a point in advising that peak season in the area proves to be rather stressful, with the streets bursting with tourists.
Saint- Emilion quickly became a place dear to my heart. I only wish that I had more time to explore, to sample more wine in the numerous wineries and take time to taste the local produce. One village that will definitely require a re-visit at some point, perhaps in the peak season when the vines are blooming!
With the half day trip over, my time in Bordeaux was soon to come to an end. Spending the next morning retracing steps in the city I picked up some souvenirs to take home and generally took in as much of the culture I possibly could.
As my first solo break, Bordeaux was a cultural treat offering me the opportunity to relax and unwind, whilst continuing to be active.
Though smaller than other French cities, the charm and culture is plentiful. Anyone planning to visit will not be disappointed. Bordeaux is simply a city that needs to be added to your bucket list.