Bordeaux, in southwestern France, is a popular vacation spot because of its attractive combination of metropolitan sophistication and rustic provincialism. Bordeaux’s lovely setting on a crescent-shaped bend of the Garonne River has earned it the nickname “Port of the Moon.” The city’s cultural legacy dates back to antiquity, and its spectacular environment contributed to its economic success.
Bordeaux is not a typical tourist destination, despite its many notable sites. It’s a thriving commercial hub with trendy eateries, historic outdoor markets, and a growing IT sector.
Top 13 Bordeaux Tourist Attractions
Our guide to Bordeaux’s greatest attractions and activities will help you make the most of your time in this picturesque and ancient city.
- Place de la Bourse
- Basilique Saint-Seurin
- Basilique Saint-Michel
- Esplanade des Quinconces
- La Grosse Cloche
- Bordeaux Cathedral
- Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
- Musée d’Aquitaine
- Rue Sainte-Catherine
- Pont de Pierre
- Musee des Beaux Arts de Bordeaux
- Jardin Public
- La Ciudad del Vino
Place de la Bourse
Bordeaux’s most well-known square should be on everyone’s itinerary. Since it was first built in the early 1700s, the Place de la Bourse has come to represent the city of Bordeaux in its entirety. The open layout of the plaza, conceived by King Louis XV’s architect Jacques Gabriel, marked the end of the walled towns of the Middle Ages.
Elegant houses from the 18th century surround three sides of this plaza, which was formerly enclosed by railings to prevent flooding from the Garonne River. In modern times, the demarcation between the plaza and the stream is marked by a shallow water feature called the Miroir d’Eau. All in all, Place de la Bourse is, without a doubt, one of the best attractions in the city of Bordeaux.
- Address: Pl. de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
- Timings: open 24 – 7
Because of its significance as a pilgrimage destination on the ancient Way of Saint James, this beautiful church has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica, which was built mostly in the 12th century, is a prime example of the Romanesque style popular among churches located along the Camino de Santiago, and it is considered to be one of the best tourist attractions in Bordeaux.
The choir was constructed during the 14th and 15th centuries, and it has a stone abbot’s throne and elaborate stalls. Twelve alabaster reliefs and a statue of the Virgin Mary from the 14th century decorate the Gothic reredos (decorative screens) in the choir chapel.
- Address: Pl. des Martyrs de la Résistance, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
- Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM. Closed on Mondays.
This basilica, dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, is another significant church along the Camino de Santiago. The Basilica of Saint Michael has been included on the list of World Heritage Sites maintained by UNESCO, making it one of Bordeaux’s top attractions.
The Basilique Saint Michel is a lovely church with a 15th-century bell tower known as The Arrow. The thin 37-story tower was constructed adjacent to the cathedral rather than on top of it since the subsoil surrounding Bordeaux is too poor to sustain big constructions like vineyards.
The 230 stairs to the summit reward visitors with breathtaking vistas of the surrounding area. Saint Michael killing the dragon is shown in an icon on the pulpit of the Gothic church. A second notable feature is an organ, which has undergone a restoration in recent years.
- Address: Pl. Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
- Timings: every day from 9 AM to 7 PM.
Esplanade des Quinconces
Bordeaux, France’s Place des Quinconces, is one of the biggest city squares in all of Europe, and it is one of the top attractions in the city. Built on the former grounds of Château Trompette, this fortification dated back to 1820 and served to keep the peace in the face of a potential revolution. It faced the middle of the field with its cannons aimed. In 1816, it was changed into its present form.
The Girondins were a group of Republican politicians from the département of the Gironde who served as representatives in the Legislative Assembly during the French Revolution. The square’s enormous fountain, constructed between 1818 and 1828, was built to honor them. After being damaged during World War II, the old fountain was rebuilt. Statues of Montaigne and Montesquieu may also be seen there.
La Grosse Cloche
La Grosse Cloche is another top attraction to visit in Bordeaux. In 1775, a “big bell” was put in the tower of the Porte de la Grosse Cloche, making it the second of Bordeaux’s surviving medieval gates to earn its name. The belfry dates back to the 15th century, although it was constructed on the ruins of an older entrance from the 13th century. The belfry, flanked by two conical towers, is a popular feature in the city.
The gigantic bell, Armande-Louise, is rung on June 12, November 11, November 9, and May 8, and again on November 11 and November 12. Tours take guests below ground to the dungeons known as the “Hotel du Lion d’Or,” named after the lion-shaped weather vane above the gateway’s central dome, where prisoners were previously held.
- Address: Rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
Another one of Bordeaux’s top attractions is Bordeaux Cathedral, aka Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux. The Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux, in the southern part of the city’s historic center, is most famous as the site where Eleanor of Aquitaine, at 13 years old, wed Louis VII.
The cathedral’s towering arches, finely carved wood organ, stone-carved façade, and detached bell tower make it well worth a visit, despite the fact that only one wall of the original 11th-century nave survives. The late Canon Marcadé left a collection of religious artifacts to the state, and since 2015 those items have been on display at the cathedral. There are 42 medieval illuminated manuscripts in the collection.
- Address: Pl. Pey Berland, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
- Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 1 PM. Every day from 3 PM to 7:30 PM.
Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
At the center of the bustling Place de la Comédie, which was formerly the site of the Roman Forum, is the Grand-Théâtre which is another top attraction in Bordeaux. This massive theater, constructed in 1780 in the aesthetically pleasing Bordeaux neoclassical style, is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and one of its best attractions. This theater was where a young Marius Petipa produced some of his early ballets, including the 1789 debut of La fille mal gardée.
Architect Victor Louis, who also created the Palais-Royal and the Théâtre de la Comédie-Française in 18th-century Paris, was responsible for the building’s architecture. Among the nine muses and the goddesses Juno, Venus, and Minerva, whose portraits adorn the building’s façade, are the 12 gigantic Corinthian columns that support the structure.
- Address: Pl. de la Comédie, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
From ancient periods to the present day, the history of Bordeaux and the area of Aquitaine is brought to life at the Museum of Aquitaine. The Laussel Venus, an item from 25,000 BC, may be found here, along with Gallic gold coins from approximately the 2nd century BC and a statue of Hercules from the 3rd century AD. All of these amazing objects have made this museum one of the best attractions in Bordeaux.
This landmark is one of the biggest museums of its sort outside of Paris and accomplishes the arduous task of crystallizing the many centuries of history in the Aquitaine area.
- Address: 20 Cr Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
- Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays.
The longest pedestrianized retail boulevard in Europe, Rue Sainte-Catherine, runs directly north from Grand Théâtre to the south where it terminates at Place de la Victoire. Rue Sainte-Catherine is not only the best place to shop in the city but also one of the top attractions in Bordeaux.
This is not the place for you if you value peace and calm: If you’re here for a marathon shopping session, you may rest your tired feet in a café and watch the crowds go by in wonder.
The sales in February and July really turn up the heat, with temporary kiosks being set up on the street. While the top half of the street is lined with the typical international brand stores, the lower parts of the street have a much younger and more bohemian vibe.
Pont de Pierre
The Pont de Pierre (Stone Bridge), spanning the Garonne River with 17 beautiful arches, is one of Bordeaux’s most iconic attractions. Bordeaux’s Pont de Pierre (or “Stone Bridge,” as it is more often known) spans the gap between the city’s left bank and the Bastide neighborhood on the right bank of the River Garonne. It stretches for 487 meters and is 19 meters wide. It marks the boundary between the marine and riverine jurisdictions in the Bordeaux port.
The bridge was designed with 17 arches to symbolize the 17 syllables in the emperor’s name. A white medallion depicting Napoleon is also placed on each span. Constructing a bridge over the raging Garonne River in Bordeaux is difficult due to the river’s high velocity, and the Pont de Pierre was the city’s sole crossing until 1965.
- Address: et la, Entre la Place Bir Hakeim, Pl. de Stalingrad, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
Musee des Beaux Arts de Bordeaux
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux is housed in a section of the Hôtel de Ville, which is located in the huge, statue-filled Jardin de la Mairie park (Town Hall) and it is one of Bordeaux’s top attractions. The museum exhibits work of art from the 15th to the 20th century, giving visitors a comprehensive look at European art.
The permanent collection has works by such artists as Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, Delacroix, Matisse, and Picasso. The paintings are listed alphabetically and topically, with the Renaissance, Dutch still life paintings from the 17th century, French classicism from the 17th and 18th centuries, and Romanticism and Impressionism from the 19th century all having their own dedicated sections.
- Address: 20 Cr d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
- Timings: Wednesday to Monday from 11 AM to 6 PM. Closed Tuesdays.
Although the city has since encroached upon the park’s former site on the outskirts of Bordeaux, it was opened to the public in 1746 on what had been unproductive vineyard land. The goal was to improve the health of the Bordelaises in keeping with the ideals of the humanists of the 18th century by providing them with a park.
The English-style Jardin Public has grassy areas, old trees, sculptures, water features, balustrades, and wrought-iron bridges across a serpentine pond. The park is surrounded by townhouses from the 18th century, and there is a café housed in the original orangery. Make sure you visit this house whenever you are in Bordeaux, as it is one of its best attractions.
- Address: Cr de Verdun, 33000 Bordeaux, France.
- Timings: every day from 7 AM to 6 PM.
La Ciudad del Vino
La Ciudad del Vino is not only one of the best museums but also one of the greatest attractions in the city of Bordeaux. This museum is a high-tech resource for learning about the origins of wine, as well as the many regions and methods used to produce it all around the globe. If you’re interested in wine and want to spend a day of your life doing research, there are 10 hours of audio and video content for you to enjoy.
The tour ends with a stop at the belvedere bar, where you can have a glass of wine while taking in breathtaking views of Bordeaux and the Garonne River. The structure itself is 3,000 square meters in size and has a 55-meter tower.
- Address: 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux, France.
Final words about Bordeaux’s top attractions
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in southern France and the heart of the region’s illustrious wine industry. Bordeaux is filled with stunning attractions that include historical ones, museums, and pristine nature. We’ve made a pocket list of some of the city’s best attractions and shared a brief profile about each one. Bonne voyage!