Travel

Published on July 11th, 2014 | by Amy Lynne Hayes

2

A Long Weekend in Bordeaux

Just a few hours by train to the south of Paris lies “La perle d’Aquitaine,” or The Pearl of Aquitaine. Bordeaux, the capital of the region, is a city steeped in history, culture and, naturally, wine. While significantly smaller than the more northern capital of France, Bordeaux is not a destination to be overlooked. And with such easy access, there’s no excuse not to spend a long weekend exploring.

Whether a city-dweller, outdoor enthusiast, or wine connoisseur, there’s something for everyone. And the best part? All it takes is a long weekend to sample all three.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux City. Photo by flickr

The City
Bordeaux is a pedestrian’s dream. The city center seems practically built for wandering. Many of the streets are small, making them impossible for cars to navigate. This means plenty of traffic-free zones filled with a wealth of shops and cafes, restaurants and bars. A multitude of places, or squares, provide the perfect setting for sipping a robust red wine outside under the open sky.

Though compact, Bordeaux packs a punch in terms of culture. There are three main museums dedicated to the arts: the Musée des Arts Décoratif, Musée des Beaux-Arts, and the CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain. The French are globally recognized for their artistic accomplishments, particularly in the realm of decorative crafts. No visit to the country would be complete without experiencing at least one art museum. Bordeaux is also home of the Musée d’Aquitaine and the Musée du Vin et du Négoce (Wine and Trade Museum) for those looking to soak in more local flavor.

And speaking of local flavor, a stop at one of the city’s many wine bars is required after a day of soaking up all that culture. Try Aux Quatre Coins du Vin or CIVB Bar à Vin, both in the city center.

Dune du Pilat

The Dune of Pilat. Photo by flickr

The Dune of Pilat
The Dune of Pilat (sometimes Dune of Pyla) is the tallest sand dune in Europe. This popular attraction is located within easy driving distance of Bordeaux, approximately 60km to the southwest. Access to the dune itself is through the adjacent camping grounds. Stairs are provided for the initial ascent, then strike out on the sand itself. The crest affords stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean to the West, and the entrance to the Arcachon Bay to the North. Perhaps the most amazing feature, aside from the sheer enormity of the dune, is the dense forest that surrounds it. If not for indisputable evidence to the contrary, it seems impossible that this massive mound of sand should be there at all.

Hiking along the top of the dune appeals to one’s sense of adventure, while setting up a sandy spot for a picnic satisfies the urge to lounge after all that walking. The real treat is to descend to the other side for a dip in the Atlantic. Just make sure to bring water to drink, and sunscreen. This holds especially true during the warmer summer months.

Saint-Emilion

Saint-Emilion City. Photo by flickr

Saint-Émilion
After the inner adventurer is satisfied and the legs are undoubtedly feeling all that trudging through sand, it would be time to indulge the senses in perhaps the region’s most famous attraction: wine. This necessitates a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Saint-Émilion. This tiny town located just outside Libourne boasts some of the best quality wines in the region. It sits tucked away amongst the vineyards, perched on a hilly landscape. The streets are narrow and steep, sometimes even needing a handrail to navigate (they are provided in certain spots). This town plan keeps vehicle traffic to a minimum, maintaining its quaint atmosphere and making it perfect for an evening stroll.

Located a mere 35km from the city of Bordeaux, visitors have the option of either renting a car and exploring for themselves, or hiring a tour with a local company. The obvious advantage to booking a tour is that multiple vineyards can be visited and many wines may be tried without the concern of who will refrain for the sake of driving. The setback is, of course having, to adhere to a schedule. Visitors will have to decide for themselves which option suits best, but this is a distinctly local experience that should not be missed.

Museums:
Musée des Arts Décoratifs

39 rue Bouffard, 33000 Bordeaux
+33 5 56 10 14 00
Open daily
Closed : Tuesdays and public holidays
Admission free for permanent
collection
Musée des Beaux-Arts
20 cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux
+ 33 5 56 10 20 56
Open daily
Closed : Tuesdays and public holidays
Admission free
www.musba-bordeaux.fr

CAPC
7 rue Ferrère, 33000 Bordeaux
+33 5 56 00 81 50
Open daily except Monday
and public holidays
Admission free for permanent collection
www.capc-bordeaux.fr
Musée d’Aquitaine
20 cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
+33 5 56 01 51 00
Open daily except Monday
and public holidays
Admission free permanent collection
www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr

Musée du Vin et du Négoce
41 rue Borie, 33000 Bordeaux
+33 5 56 90 19 13
Open daily, guided visits offered
Wednesday and Saturday mornings
Admission: 10 euros (individual adult)
www.mvnb.fr

Wine Bars:
Aux Quatre Coin du Vin

8 rue de la Devise, 33000 Bordeaux
+33 5 57 34 37 29
Mon – Tues 6 pm – 12 am
Wed – Sat 6 pm – 1 am
www.aux4coinsduvin.com
CIVB Bar à Vin
3 cours du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux
+33 5 56 00 43 47
Mon – Sat 11 am – 8 pm
Closed Monday and public holidays
www.baravin.bordeaux.com

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About the Author

is a writer and designer by trade and an avid traveler by heart. She first discovered her love for all things French while studying interiors in Paris, and has never quite gotten over the initial infatuation. When not planning her next escape to *La Belle France*, she can be found globe-trotting around other parts of the world and writing for her travel-inspired blog, Créatrice Mondial. Links to Published Works: The Parisian - Creatrice Mondial Paris, You're Always on My Mind



2 Responses to A Long Weekend in Bordeaux

  1. Vicki Lesage says:

    It’s been years since I visited Bordeaux. This makes me want to go back!

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