Bordeaux has long been the wine capital of France and the world. Situated in a bend in the river Garonne, the city has had the nickname ‘Port of the Moon‘ for a long time. This lovely city has really changed in the last 20 years and recently has become a particularly popular weekend destination for people from the UK and other European countries with several low-cost airlines now flying into Merignac International Airport near the city.
There is so much to see and do in the city that definitely a couple of weekends are needed at least! So, without loosing our time, let’s explore the top things to do in Bordeaux at night. Enjoy!
1. Explore the St Pierre Area
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St Pierre is the historic heart of the city and is a series of pretty squares each with restaurants and wine bars. Nothing beats relaxing with a glass of Bordeaux wine and a plate of local cheese and charcuterie (cold cuts of meat).
2. Stroll Around the Docks
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This area of the city has been renovated recently and a new building project to provide new homes is beginning shortly. There are often cruise ships moored and the L’I Boat is a converted three deck ferry that is now a restaurant, cocktail bar, and concert hall. La Dome is another choice and is situated in Bassins â flots (the recently revamped ‘old wet dock’). La Dome is good for casual foods and downstairs is a disco with a slightly older clientele (30s and over!)
3. Stroll Across the Pont de Pierre
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The Pont de Pierre (bridge of stone) was built in 1821 and has 17 identical archways. It was the first bridge to span the Garonne and was built particularly strongly. The bridge is particularly pretty at night as there are numerous three light lanterns on both sides of the bridge.
4. Window Shopping at its Best
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Rue Sainte Catherine stretches 1.2 kilometers between Place de la Comédie and Thermier Column in Place de la Victoire and is said to be the longest shopping street in Europe. It was the main Roman road in the city. Today, there are 250 stores strung along the street. Taking a stroll along in the evening and enjoying some window shopping is fun! In Place de la Comédie stands the impressive Grand Theatre which is floodlit at night and has elegant portico and 12 statues of goddesses at the front of its roof. The perfect end to the stroll is of course to find a wine bar for a glass of Bordeaux!
5. Sample a Bordeaux Canelé
You will see these classic Bordelaise treats in the boulangerie and coffee shops and they are well worth trying! They are small sponge fluted cylinders that are flavored with rum and vanilla. Crunchy with a crystallized outside and soft and chewy inside they are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee.
6. Relax with Good Jazz
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Le Caillou du Jardin Botanique is a lovely restaurant that nestles amongst the greenery in the botanical gardens. As well as good food, the restaurant offers great jazz on a Thursday and Friday night, with Baroque on Wednesdays and World Music on Saturdays.
7. Discover the Wine Gallery
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Situated in the ‘Golden Triangle’ the Wine Gallery Cours de l’Intendence) offers you the chance to enjoy a glass or two of the best wines from the Bordeaux region. There are 50 of the region’s best wines available to try and the advantage is that you buy the wine by the glass and don’t have to buy a bottle!
On arrival, you buy a card for the value you want and then insert the card in the dispensing machine for the wine you would like to drink. Prices start from as little as one euro for a small 25 ml taster right up to 35 euros per glass. You can choose what size glass you would like and if you have any credit left on your card, there is no problem as you can use it on your next visit! For wine aficionados, there are wine tasting courses available too.
8. Photograph the Water Mirror
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The Miroir d’Eau (water mirror) is situated in front of the beautiful Palais de la Bourse with its fountains of the three graces in front and overlooks the River Garonne. The two-centimeter deep pool is the largest reflecting pool of water in the world and certainly the most photographed spot in Bordeaux! The pool covers an area of 3,450 square meters of black granite.
In the summer, it is popular with visitors of all ages for cooling off! The water goes through a fun three-minute mist cycle, followed by three minutes of tranquil mirror water. At night the water reflects all the floodlights of the Palais.
9. See Three Floodlit Churches on the Pilgrim Route
The pilgrim route Camino de Santiago de Compostela (also known as the Way of St James) passes through Bordeaux for 8.4 kilometers. The route became UNESCO listed in 1998 and there are three lovely churches situated on the route in the city and they look particularly beautiful at night when they are floodlit.
The first is the 11th-century Saint-Seurin Basilica. Saint André Cathedral (also 11th century) is the best known because its 66-meter belfry – Pey-Berland – offers a great view over the city from the top during the day! The third church is the Gothic Eglise Saint-Michel which has a pilgrims’ chapel and a 114-meter high belfry called Fléche de Saint Michel.
If you want to see these sites the leisurely way, why not hop on the last tour bus which starts at 9.00 pm? (www.bordeaux-tourism.com)
10. Enjoy a Night at the Theatre
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The Grand Theatre was built in 1780 and is one of Bordeaux’s most famous buildings with its 12 Corinthian columns and rooftop statues. Inside is just as impressive with a huge foyer and large sweeping staircases and it is the perfect setting for a memorable performance by either the National Orchestra of National Ballet of Bordeaux.