Set within the heart of Garonne, the largest wine region in France, Bordeaux is famed for its gorgeous vineyards, but has far more to offer than its brilliant claret. Named the Best European Destination of 2015, the neoclassical architecture and old world splendour of Bordeaux’s historic inner city makes for a real melting pot for culture, earning it protection as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. To inspire your own adventure to this exciting wine capital, we take a look at some of the fantastic activities the port city has to offer.
Sample Bordeaux Wine
Of course, the biggest draw to this fertile land has to be the fabulous Bordeaux wine that the region is renowned for, with millions visiting each year to sample it for themselves. Some of the best quality wines on the planet are produced within the province, and the area’s year-round wine tours allow visitors to taste a variety of fresh whites and rich reds. Both Medoc and St Emilion offer private guided tours and tasting experiences that guarantee you’ll never feel the same way about wine again.
See the Water Mirror
In front of the Palais de la Bourse is an extraordinary must-see attraction: the world’s largest reflecting pool, covering 3,450 square metres. Walk alongside the stunningly clear lake — which is reassuringly only 2cm deep — and gaze across at the symmetrical palace perfectly duplicated in the water’s reflection. As well as making for an amazing photo opportunity and a centrepiece of the dock area, the atmospheric mist that rises from the lake provides cool refreshment in the summer.
Climb the Largest Sand Dune in Europe
If you thought sand dunes are only located in the Sahara Desert, guess again. Located a short distance from Bordeaux on the lush west coast of France, the Great Dune of Pilat is an awe-inspiring sight that looms up out of the forest greenery as you approach the ocean. Reaching up to 107 metres tall, it’s well worth taking a day trip to see one of the world’s tallest dunes. A quick stop at the scenic hideaway of the Bay of Arcachon to taste their famous fresh oysters is also to be recommended.
Cycle through the vineyards
A relaxing cycle ride through the unspoilt countryside outside Bordeaux is an essential activity for anyone staying in the city. The landscape around the city has over 200km of cycle paths that lead you along charming country lanes, across bubbling rivers and past countless vineyards. More adventurous cyclists might even choose to travel part of the La Vélodyssée, a car-free route that hugs the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean for over 1,200km.
Explore Bordeaux City
Nicknamed Little Paris, Bordeaux has plenty of architectural and cultural spots to keep you occupied. The condensed structure of the old city makes it easy to leisurely wander between the magnificent cathedral and bell tower, the elegant Renaissance arch of the Porte Cailhau and the iconic Gothic clock tower of la Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux. Those after the city’s best shopping should head to the Rue St Catherine, which at 1.2km is one of the longest retail streets in the world. With the best of French fashion and local wine on offer, it’s the perfect place to stock up before your return ferry home.
For further inspiration, check out our adventure page to start your own escape.