Bordeaux FAQ

Table of Contents

Is Bordeaux worth visiting?

Yes, I would say, it should be on everyone’s bucket list. 

Among reasons to visit Bordeaux:  

famous wine country with a long tradition and fantastic wines, the well-preserved 17th and 18th-century architecture of old Bordeaux, a small town full of French cafes, bars, and a relaxed atmosphere of southwestern France.

Besides, Bordeaux is on the Unesco World Heritage List.

The Port of the Moon, port city of Bordeaux in south-west France, is inscribed as an inhabited historic city, an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble, created in the age of the Enlightenment, with more protected buildings than any other French city except Paris.

UNESCO

How far is Bordeaux from Paris?

Bordeaux is in the southwest of France, approximately 600 kilometers (360 miles) from the capital, Paris.

It is easy to reach Bordeaux by train from Paris Gare de Montparnasse in just over 2 hours on a comfortable direct train.  Trains making several stops can take 3 hours or more.

If you arrive in Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport, take a quick 1-hour flight to Bordeaux or hop on the SNCF train to Bordeaux right from the airport.  

More on other options of getting to Bordeaux from Paris in my article How to Get from Paris to Bordeaux.

What is the best time to visit Bordeaux?

April to October.  

November to March are also great especially if your focus is wine and food.  Winter months can be rainy, but there are a lot of sunny days too.  

Find more about visiting Bordeaux in different months in my blog posts below.

What is the best wine in Bordeaux?

There is not such thing as the best wine of Bordeaux.  Each wine region and appellation have their stars.

Wines of Petrus and Chateau le Pin from Pomerol are some of the most expensive wines of Bordeaux.  However, as we all know, price is not always a measure of quality.  Many wineries in Bordeaux are now striving to increase quality.  At the same time, a lot depends on the “terroir”: the soils and the microclimate of a particular vineyard.  You got to taste and choose your favorite.

To help you with your choice, there are official classifications of Bordeaux wines ranking top wineries of Bordeaux, including:

1855 Classification of Medoc

Top Wineries of Saint-Emilion

The 1855 classification has not changed since the year it came out, while the Saint-Emilion classification is being reviewed every decade.

Pomerol wineries are not classified.  There are known leaders, such as Petrus and a few others.  See an unofficial classification in my post What Makes Pomerol Wines Special.

How to visit Bordeaux Chateaux?

To visit the wineries of Bordeaux get a car, book your visits and lunch, and voila! 

Another good option is to jump on an organized wine tour.   A number of excellent Bordeaux wine tours are offered through platforms like Viator and GetYourGuide.

See more details in my article How to visit wineries in Bordeaux?

Do I need a car in Bordeaux?

You may want a car if you plan to visit wineries on your own or go to the ocean. 

The city itself is not that big and quite walkable.  Besides, there is a good public transportation system in place.  

If you decide to drive in the city, it is possible with some difficulties though such as narrow cobbled streets, pedestrians and cyclists.  For parking I strongly recommend underground garages, they are scattered all over the city center (Parking Tourny, Parking Pey Berland, Parking Camille Jullien, etc.)  

Try to find one near your accommodation before you arrive.  You do not have to book ahead.  Another convenient ground-level parking is just by the Place des Quinconces. 

See more in my article Do I Need to Rent a Car in Bordeaux?

How to use the Bordeaux tram?

Bordeaux tram is awesome.  It is a comfortable way to move around the city.    

There are currently 4 tram lines: A, B, C, and D, which connect the city center to the train station, the wine museum La Cite Du Vin, and Bordeaux suburbs like Merignac, Pessac, Villeneuve, Begles.  Trams are modern and spacious.  They run on schedules with short time intervals.

The Quinconces Square (Place des Quinconces) is the central hub in the city center right by the Grand Theatre where all tram lines intersect.

For schedules and routes, see the website of Transports Bordeaux Metropole.

You can buy tickets at a tram stop. Cash and cards are accepted. Tickets are valid for transfers made within 1 hour. You have to validate your ticket against the TBM terminal inside the tram.  When transferring, validate your tickets as well.  Same tickets are valid on the TBM network buses (but not TransGironde intercity buses).

I find it convenient to pay for my tram fare through a Witick app on my phone.

Another way that may save you a bit, depending on your plans is a Bordeaux City Pass.  

Which Bordeaux chateaux accept visitors?

Bordeaux wine tourism is developing rapidly.  More and more wineries each year are opening doors for visitors.

Some top wineries of the region, such as Petrus, Chateau La Tour, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Ausone are not open for tours.  Other top wineries such as Chateau Mouton Rothschild may require a reservation far in advance.  If you are planning a self-guided Bordeaux wine tour, quite a lot of planning might be involved.

Other wineries, depending on the season may be available on short notice or even accept walk-ins.

These resources may help you in planning your Bordeaux winery hopping:  

How to visit wineries in Bordeaux?

Catalog of Bordeaux Wineries accepting visitors.  

Best Bordeaux Wine Country Restaurants with a Map

Is there a list of Bordeaux wineries?

There isn’t an official list of all Bordeaux wineries. 

Some appellations like Medoc, Saint-Emilion, or Pessac-Leognan list wineries in the region on their websites.

I put together a catalog of the Bordeaux chateaux.  You can also see them all on a map.  Below, you will find links to Bordeaux chateaux by region.

You may also refer to these official classifications of Bordeaux wineries:

1855 Classification of Medoc

Top Wineries of Saint-Emilion

Where to taste wines in the city of Bordeaux?

There are many opportunities to taste wines in Bordeaux.

If you want to stay in the city center, you can join a guided tasting or a workshop, privately or in a group.  See some examples below.

Another option – Bordeaux wine bars. Many are equipped with enomatic machines, so you can sip several very good wines.  Le Bar a Vin stands out as a real Bordeaux tasting bar.  However, do not expect to taste grands vins here.

For other suggestions, see Bordeaux Wine Bars Recommended by a Local.

Alternatively, some wine shops in the center offer tastings (degustation), and of course, they hope you would buy some.

Where to Buy Wine in Bordeaux?

In my post Where to Buy  Wine in Bordeaux, I cover all options including city center shops, small boutiques, supermarkets, and Saint-Emilion wine shops.

Tip: Enjoy tasting and buying wine in Bordeaux.  When ordering larger quantities it may make sense to check prices for the same vintage in your country at Millesima USA, Total Wines, or your local wine dealer.  

There are wines that are worth buying in Bordeaux, but some may be a better bargain back home.  

Where to stay in Bordeaux?

In my opinion, it is better to stay in the center of Bordeaux in one of the areas close to the Grand Theatre.  This way you will be close to all attractions.  The center-ville is atmospheric, lively, and safe.

You are also close to the Office of Tourism. Most Bordeaux wine tours depart from that square.

Popular neighborhoods for staying in Bordeaux: the posh Golden Triangle (Le Triangle d’Or), the bar scene Quartier St. Pierre, the chic Quartier St. Paul, and the Chartrons, and the residential bourgeois Saint Seurin and the area around Jardin Public.

My least favorite areas for short-term stays are Meriadeck, Ornano, and the area around the train station, Gare St. Gene.

As to the hotels: popular choices in the city center include hotel Intercontinental Le Grand HotelHotel de Seze, Hotel Normandie, Yndo Hotel, Le Boutique hotel.  

See other accommodation options below:   

Where to stay in Bordeaux wine country?

There are interesting winery hotels on both the Left bank and the Right Bank. Some wineries offer a couple of rooms and apartments for rent.  

To find wineries with accommodation, filter for Accommodation options in my Bordeaux wineries catalog.

You may find this list helpful:  Stay at a Winery in Bordeaux Wine Country – The Right Bank.

What are the best restaurants in Bordeaux?

Bordeaux is famous for its gastronomic scene.

Michelin-star restaurants, bistros, tiny family restaurants, and artisanal cafes – a variety of choices.

Check out the Bordeaux Restaurants List for recommendations and the map.

Do Bordeaux wine tours run in the winter?

Yes. Bordeaux wine tours do run in the wintertime.  In fact, you can get the best experiences in the winter, when there are no crowds, winemakers are not busy and happy to spend all their time explaining wines and terroirs.

Some wineries are closed on the weekends.  I recommend planning your visits for weekdays.

Most chateaux are closed for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

It would be extremely rare to have freezing temperatures or snow on the ground during the winter months.  However, dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes.

How far are Bordeaux wineries from the city of Bordeaux?

Bordeaux wine region spreads for approximately 100 km from the city of Bordeaux.  However, most wineries are within 45 minutes to an hour drive. 

The chateaux of Margaux and Pessac-Leognan are the closest to the city center.

Visit Margaux Vineyards – Best Wineries, Best Wine Tours

Wine Regions and Wineries Closest to Bordeaux –  Pessac-Leognan

Check the map of Bordeaux wineries to gauge the distances.

How to choose a wine tour in Bordeaux?

1. Decide whether you want to go on a private tour or with a group

Usually, small-group tours take up to 8 people in a minivan.  Group tours usually depart from the Office of Tourism.

I do not recommend large-group tours on a coach bus – you will spend more time waiting for others than touring and tasting. 

Private tours offer pick up in Bordeaux, you can select wineries to visit and tour at your own pace. Note that private tour price may be quoted for the group or per person. If you are staying outside of the city of Bordeaux, you can arrange a pick-up with private tours.

2. Pick your preferred wine region

Popular options: Medoc, Saint-Emilion, Pessac-Leognan/Graves and Sauternes.  

Medoc vs. Saint Emilion

3. Pick tour duration 

On a full-day tour, you would typically visit 3 wineries and stop for lunch.  

Half-day tours to Medoc include 2 wineries, while half-day tours to Saint-Emilion include 1 winery and a visit to the town of Saint Emilion.

See my blog for more tips on visiting Bordeaux and the vineyards.

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