Make your way through the wine capital of Bordeaux, where you can explore over 7,000 winemakers in the world’s largest and oldest wine-producing region. Discover this stunning French city, half of which has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy its unrivaled culinary scene, rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking architecture on a Bordeaux cruise.
History buffs will love visiting landmarks like the strikingly symmetrical Place de la Bourse and the imposing Porte Cailhau city gates. Meanwhile, wine lovers will feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven as they make their way through the sprawling vineyards and gorgeous chateaux that await in the countryside. Sip a glass of premier cru, snack on a sweet canelé, admire the view of the River Garonne, and experience joie de vivre during your time in Bordeaux.
Admire the 14th-century Basilica of Saint Michel, a Flamboyant Gothic church at the heart of the city’s historic quarter. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this basilica is famous for its stunning stained-glass windows and 374-foot high bell tower, known as “the spire,” which is open for visitors to climb.
Stop by the Porte Cailhau, a commanding 15th-century city gate built in honor of King Charles VII’s victory over Naples. This large landmark was designed in the Renaissance style of the era and offers some of the best views of Pont du Pierre, the oldest bridge in Bordeaux, and the River Garonne from the archway that looms 75 feet above.
Visit the iconic Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux's symbolic square, which took over 20 years to complete from start to finish. Dating back to the 18th century, the Place de la Bourse was designed by famous French architect Jacques Gabriel, who also designed the equally beautiful Place de la Concorde square in Paris. At the center of the square, you’ll find the Fountain of the Three Graces, which represent three of Zeus’s daughters: Aglae, Euphrosyne, and Thalia.
During your day in port on Bordeaux cruises, step inside the spacious Cité du Vin, the world’s only cultural center totally dedicated to wine. Inside this futuristic building shaped like a wine decanter, you’ll have over 10 levels to explore with various exhibitions on the many aspects of wine including grape varieties, the history of wine, and wine trends. After finishing up your tour, head to the rooftop Belvedere and sample a selection of wines from around the world while enjoying 360-degree views of the city below.
Experience what it would be like to walk on water at the Miroir d’Eau (the Water Mirror), an attraction built in 2006 that has quickly become one of Bordeaux’s must-visit landmarks. Located opposite the Palais de la Bourse, the Miroir d’Eau is the world’s largest reflecting pool and the perfect place to cool off during the summer’s scorching temperatures. Kids will love splashing around the water and running through the gusts of mist that are released every 15 minutes.
Spend a romantic day sampling wine in Bordeaux, every oenophile’s definition of paradise. Admire the beautiful Medieval, Gothic, and modern chateaux of the area, many of which allow you to tour the grounds and sample their estate’s varieties. If you want the full Bordeaux experience, sign up for a tour that takes you to all six wine regions of the area, including Medoc, Graves and Sauternes, Blaye and Bourg, Saint-Emilion Pomerol and Fronsac, and Entre-Deux-Mers.
Aside from being one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world, Bordeaux is also a culinary capital in its own right—it has the largest number of restaurants per capita in France. Savor your way through the city’s many bistros, restaurants, and wineries, and order all of your favorite French staples like foie gras and escargot, but make sure to try some of the region’s local specialties, too. No trip to Bordeaux is complete without ordering the lamprey à la bordelaise, a dish made with the area’s local eel that is slow-cooked in spiced red wine. For dessert, you’ll find it hard to resist eating multiple canelés, bite-sized pastries with a caramelized crust and sweet custardy filling on the inside.
Bordeaux’s history spans all the way back to 300 BC when a Celtic tribe first established the town of Burdigala in the region. The city’s prime location and dry soil had long attracted conflict in the area, and during different eras of history, the region was ruled by the Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Franks, and Basques, until it fell under English rule for over 300 years.
King Charles VII won the city back to France after defeating the English in the Battle of Castillon in 1453. During the next few centuries, Bordeaux became an important commercial port and underwent rapid development and expansion, including the construction of the Place de la Bourse, the opera house, and the first railway. In 2007, half of Bordeaux was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, Bordeaux is one of the major economic centers in France. Aside from its trading, administrative, and service industries, tourism is also a major source of income to the area, as thousands of people annually visit Bordeaux’s sprawling 200,000 acres of vineyards.
On a Bordeaux cruise, you’ll dock in La Rochelle, a small port city located about two hours away from Bordeaux. From the port, you can walk to the Old Port of La Rochelle and explore this charming French fishing village. If you choose to head outside of La Rochelle, you’ll also find several shuttle buses at the port that will connect you to neighboring cities, including Bordeaux. Shore excursions to Bordeaux include transportation to and from La Rochelle cruise port.
You’ll find it easy to get around Bordeaux, as there are several forms of public transportation available in the city. Aside from the local tramway and bus systems, you’ll find numerous public bike stations all over Bordeaux. If you wish to explore areas outside of Bordeaux, there’s a comprehensive railway system, which connects you to La Rochelle. You can also walk around Bordeaux’s pedestrian-friendly streets or hail a taxi cab, which you’ll easily find throughout the city.
In Bordeaux, you’ll find everything from large department stores to luxury brands to local flea markets. Head to the Triangle d’Or, a.k.a. the Golden Triangle quarter, where you can stroll down the famous Rue Sainte-Catherine. It’s the longest shopping street in Europe and is full of well-known designer brands and shops. If you’re on the hunt for local food items, go to the Marché des Capucins, where you can sample seafood delicacies, buy an endless array of cheeses, and stock up on fresh produce. And if you’re searching for antiques, on Sundays you can head to the Saint-Michel spire, where antique dealers sell everything from clothing to table linens and silverware.
The local currency in Bordeaux is the euro. Credit cards are widely accepted in the area, and you’ll also find ATMs easily. Service is included in most restaurant bills, so there is no need to tip, but if you feel like you experienced excellent service, you can always leave a small tip as an extra gratuity.