Welcome to Wine Country. No, not Napa Valley—Bordeaux, France is ten times better. A city loaded with culture and, perhaps obviously, wine, Bordeaux has truly earned its place as the epicenter of beauty and sophistication in southwestern France. You’ll find plenty to do during your three-day stay in Bordeaux. Years ago, when the city rose to fame for its bustling Chartons district, where wine merchants perfected blends of reds and whites, merchants and owners of the renowned châteaus wrote about the port, calling it the Port of the Moon, for its stunning, ornate architecture along the Garonne River. Today, the glistening reflections of landmarks and unmistakable Belle Époque architecture in the water make it impossible to question Bordeaux’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet, even with its ancient Roman and French history, the city has transformed from the Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty) to a bustling, cosmopolitan center with a trendy student nightlife scene and outdoor concert venues on the river. Not too far from the main city are Atlantic beach towns just a bus ride away if you’re looking to enjoy the surf and sun. Let’s make a toast—of Merlot, Claret, or Chardonnay—to Wine Country. If you have 72 hours to spend in Bordeaux, France, this itinerary can help you get the most out of your stay.
Take a walking tour and pop by a museum to learn a little about the city’s wine history.
Morning: Take a walking tour to become acquainted with the city
Start your first day off by learning a little something while you take a refreshing stroll around the city streets. There is no better way to get to know Bordeaux than to take a two-hour guided walking tour. A local expert will lead you along a popular route that will take you by some of the most popular landmarks, such as the Monument aux Girondins.
Lunchtime: Order one of France’s national meals—a crêpe
You can’t come to Bordeaux without noshing on a crêpe (or two, or three). You’ll find plenty of places serving up both savory and sweet concoctions, ranging from your classic fraise to oeufs avec jambon. (That’s strawberries and eggs with ham, respectively, for those of you who haven’t picked up on French yet.) We recommend leaving enough room in your stomach for at least two: you won’t want to miss out.
Afternoon: Learn about the regional wine
Do not overlook the Musée du Vin et de Négoce for the comparatively glitzy La Cité du Vin. This small museum, located in the Chartrons district, is designed like the wine cellars the merchants of the district used to produce the highly prized Bordeaux wines. The first hallway of the museum is an in-depth look into the history of the Port of the Moon. The second hall explains how the wine was made, with the actual barrels and machines used to age the wine to perfection. After you walk through the museum, you’ll enjoy tasting two wines as a museum guide gives you a comprehensive introduction to the specific wine regions of Bordeaux.
Evening: Grab dinner at a cozy bistro
Sure, Bordeaux has some impressive Michelin-starred restaurants and you’re more than welcome to try any of them out while you’re here. But can we let you in on a little secret? The bistros here are just as good (ask the locals) and much cheaper. Find a cozy spot to settle in, preferably one with al fresco dining and a view of the River Garonne, and nibble on an entree of sea bass while sipping on a glass of delicious local wine. We promise, you won’t miss those over-priced gastropubs in the least.
Spend the entire day touring Bordeaux’s wine region.
Morning, afternoon, and evening: Take a full-day wine tour to Medoc
Travel to one of the world’s most-renowned wine regions on a full-day wine tour from Bordeaux to Medoc. The day includes three wine tastings and free time to enjoy lunch and sample some more wine in Pauillac. You’ll return to Bordeaux exhausted and happy, with a belly full of delicious local grapes (in the liquid variety) and some new-found knowledge on the history of the area’s famous estates and their wine-making process.
On the last day of your Bordeaux itinerary, take a stroll around the city’s main square and explore a 14th-century cathedral.
Morning: Visit Basilique Saint-Michel
This 14th-century basilica, although a bit of a walk from the city center, is well worth a trip to the Saint-Michel area. The interior is typical of a gothic European cathedral, bearing some similarity to the nearby Cathédrale Saint-André, but it has an older, more lived-in feel. Take a walk around the basilica and then climb its bell tower, the Fleche de St. Michel, for a leg workout and fantastic view of the city below. On Fridays and Sundays, you’ll find an outdoor market of the antique and produce varieties in the adjacent square.
Lunch: Let a local show you where to eat
We know your legs are probably aching from that bell tower climb, but listen—how can you say no to a guided gourmet food tour of Bordeaux, complete with lunch? Right—you can’t. The good news is, the pace is slow and the food is to die for. You’ll sample some fresh-baked French bread, handmade chocolates, and local cheese. Once you’ve whet your appetite, you’ll be treated to a full buffet lunch in a typical Bordeaux apartment.
Afternoon: Explore Place de la Bourse
Perhaps the first thing you see when you Google “Bordeaux” is red wine. But the next thing that pops up will be, without a doubt, the city’s main square. Why not take yourself on a self-guided tour of this famous area of the city? Built in the eighteenth century in a neoclassical style, the square was erected for King Louis XIV and his obscenely lavish tastes. Within the square itself is the Bourse, the stock exchange, a fountain of the Three Graces, and the Customs Museum. In front of the square, you’ll find the tram line C, which takes you to Gare Saint-Jean and the famous Miroir d’Eau, the world’s largest water mirror, which spans a whopping 37,000 square feet. If you happen to be on the eastern bank of the Garonne in the evening, look out onto the square to see Bordeaux in all its glory, when the façades glow with soft, yellow light.
Evening: Take a dinner cruise along the Garonne River
Spend your last night in Bordeaux soaking in the river views while sipping a cocktail on a three-course dinner river cruise. The river snakes through the city and the surrounding wine region, making it the perfect spot to snap some incredible pics and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime scenery of the city’s historic architecture and stunning countryside.