A few weeks back I told you about how Bordeaux really took me by a surprise when I visited there in October. Back then I did not go that well into details about the reasons why I actually was convinced that Bordeaux is well worth traveling to. So, let’s return to southern France for a while and I’ll tell you all about why I would recommend Bordeaux to everyone.
I can’t stress this enough. Bordeaux is simply extremely lively and beautiful city, that is bustling with life until late hours every day. There are plenty of people on the streets from morning until late at night, even in the middle of the week in October. However, the streets do not feel crowded at all. It is easy to relax at one of the several brasseries, restaurants or bars, and just enjoy the atmosphere the city offers. People are happy and you can hear laughter everywhere. You simply can’t feel irritated or blue for long in this city (trust me, I tried).
The french people have a notorious reputation with being arrogant and rude. To be honest, I can’t understand why! Not once did I encountered service or arrogant behavior. All I saw was plenty of friendly smiles, good customer service skills and extremely helpful and friendly people. It was so easy to feel being welcome in this city.
With just a little over 200.00o inhabitants (600.000 when you count also the neighboring municipalities) Bordeaux makes up just the perfect sized city for a short getaway. The funny thing is that the city actually feels a lot bigger from its true size, and if I did not know the actual size, I would’ve guessed the number to be well over 500.ooo. Despite being a rather small city in international scale, there are plenty of attractions and the centre is large enough to keep you entertained from more than just a few hours with all the cute little alleys, shops and restaurants. If you want, you can see most of the city centre in just one afternoon, but can easily spend a few days strolling on the streets, spending time in the parks or having a pleasant walk on the riverbanks. It is also easy to walk between most attractions. Sounds like the ideal destination for a weekend trip, doesn’t it?
The city centre is made car-free, so it is easy to walk around by foot. With no traffic around causing noise and hassle, the centre is rather lively but at the same time very calm. No cars means more room for people and outdoor dining possibilities right in the heart of the city centre. No need to wait in traffic lights, no need to watch out for passing cars, just plenty of space to walk around carefree and enjoy the beautiful city.
This is one of the biggest reasons. The whole city centre could easily be one huge UNESCO world heritage site. However, Port of the Moon, meaning the riverbanks together with Place de la Bourse is the only official UNESCO-site in the city, but the same amazing architecture can be found all over the city and the riverbanks are just lined with these impressive buildings. There are around ten significant attractions in the city and a number of smaller ones, each worth seeing and any one of the biggest attractions could have easily been put on this list on their own. There are impressive churches, bridges, gates, parks and squares that make you want to just keep saying wow in between snapping tons of photos. The city is absolutely stunning during nighttime when the lights are turned on in the buildings and on the riverbanks, but is sure is beautiful during the daytime too. If you want to get everything out of these attractions, be sure to check them out during daytime as well as during the darker hours.
Only three hours by train from Paris. The train ride is a smooth one and in some cases, non-stop. There are TGV-trains going straight from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to Bordeaux. The city has an international airport too, so flying in is also a good alternative.
Coming from northern Europe, the southern France does seem to have and ideal climate. In early October the weather was just beautiful, temperatures were often above 20c with lots of sunshine. Nights are also still warm and on many days, I was ok with just a thin sweater at night. So, if you are coming from the colder countries like me, it is possible to extend the summer a bit by travelling to southern France in October.
I do not need to explain this in detail, right? Bordeaux is a world famous wine producing region, and for a good reason. There are countless of wineries around the city and plenty of possibilities for day trips in the wine region. If you do not feel like taking a trip outside the city just for the wine, worry not! The restaurants are filled with local products, so give a try and taste them. But be warned, your luggage might end up being overweight on your way home.
If France is known for its wines, then it is also well known for its cuisine. During the five days spent in the city, I had nothing but good dining experiences. There is a huge variety of restaurants in the city centre, and even more when walking just slightly outside the center. It doesn’t matter what type of kitchen you are after, you’ll find a suitable restaurant or two here. And the prices? Excellent! Hint: several restaurants offer pre-set menus during lunch and dinner times with a wide price-range. A three-course menu can be anything between 12 and 80 euros depending on the restaurant you choose. I did try the menu a few times and they were worth the price every time.
Easy day trips
If you are like me and get bored quickly in one destination, Bordeaux is still an excellent place for a longer stay, thanks to all the possibilities for day trips in the region. Within an hours journey from the city, there are several alternatives for short trips. The most popular ones being all the different wineries in the area, Archachon’s seaside town or the lovely city of Saint-Émilion, where I did do a short trip during my stay in Bordeaux. You can read more about that trip here.
So what is the one reason why you probably will not visit Bordeaux on your trip to France? Well, because it is not Paris. Paris is a world-famous and extremely popular travel destination, one that almost everyone dreams of visiting once. But, to be honest, I did not like Paris on my first time there, neither did I like in on my second trip. Bordeaux on the other hand, I loved from the very first moment. So I can easily say that even though there is no Eiffel-tower here nor Mona Lisa, Bordeaux is still way better as a travel destination than Paris.