Cool Things to Do in Bordeaux - Off the Beaten Path

Bordeaux offers unique architecture, history, museums, excellent gastronomic restaurants, bars, and wine tours and tastings.

When you have tried all of the above and want to discover off-beaten-path activities and local things to do, check out these options.
The indestructible WW2 submarine basebuilt in Bordeaux by the German troops has been transformed into an art center.

Imagine submarine docks illuminated by projections of works by Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee, Ocean Data, and Anitya

Allow at least one hour for a visit. 
  • From April to September: 10am-7pm. On Fridays and Saturdays until 9pm.
  • From October to March: 10am-6pm. On Fridays and Saturdays until 7pm.

Bassins des Lumières Impasse Brown de Colstoun 33 300 Bordeaux

Phone: 05 35 00 00 90

To get to the Bassins de Lumières, take Tram C to stop Raveziès (towards Blanquefort or parc des expos), then bus n°9 : to stop Base sous-marine (towards Brandenburg).
Spend a night at guinguette Chez Alriq, a with live music, dance, and feel the local fun.

Guinguette was originally a“small cabaret in the suburbs and the surrounds of Paris, where craftsmen drink in the summer and on Sundays and on Festival days – The 1750 Dictionary of French Language.

Chez Alriq is on the right bank of the Garonne. You will recognize it by lanterns and loud music. Come early, come for the atmosphere and live music. Simple foods are served in a canteen or from food trucks.

There is a small fee for evening concerts.
  • From June to August: From Wednesday to Saturday from 7 pm to 1 am
  • September: From Thursday to Saturday from 7 pm to 1 am
  • All summer season long: Sundays from noon to 10 pm.
Quai des Queyries Port Bastide, 33100 Bordeaux

Phone: 05 56 86 58 49

No reservations, unless you are a large group of over 10 people.

Experience modern French culture at an arthouse movie theater in the center of Bordeaux inside a former church.

Here, you can watch movies of independent producers, attend cultural debates, mix with artistic crowds.

Utopia is a refreshing cultural experience, even if you don’t speak French.

4. Jet Ski on the Garonne

The Garonne river goes through the city of Bordeaux and all the way to the Atlantic ocean. 

It is fun to see the city and the surroundings from the water.  You will also see vineyards and castles of the Medoc.  Check out the Bordeaux jet ski tours here.

Climb La Dune du Pilat (the Dune of Pilat), the tallest sand dune in Europe. 

From the top of the Dune, see the sunset over the Arcachon Bay and the Atlantic. You can bring a picnic or a bottle of rose as Bordeaux locals do. 

The drive to get to the Dune of Pilat from Bordeaux is about 1 hour 20 minutes.  You can also take a train from the Bordeaux Gare St. Gean to Arcachon, and take a taxi from there.  Alternatively, hire a private driver in Bordeaux or jump on a tour.

The Dune is not easy to climb (there are stairs though to help with the climb), but the views and the experience standing on a huge pile of sand are well worth it.  There is a nice calm beach down below if you are prepared to go down the Dune and then climb back up. 

Paid parking is just by the Dune of Pilat. There are small cafes and washroom facilities between the parking and the Dune. 

Dune du Pilat

Taste the freshest oysters right at an oyster farm (cabanes) at the Arcachon Bay. 

Farmers who produce oysters will serve them to you by 6 or by dozen accompanied by simple Bordeaux white or rose.

The menu at the cabanes will also include shrimps and snails served with bread and butter, and a local meat spread but not much else.  

The tastings are not a luxury experience, but definitely a truly local activity.  The cabanes can be found all around the Arcachon Bay.  

The main tasting spots: 

  • Le Canon 
  • L’Herbe
  • the port of La Teste-de-Buch near the town of Arcachon
  • the port of Ares. 

You will need a car or a private driver to get to these places.  Alternatively, use a TransGironde bus. 

My favorite place is the village of L’Herbe with with its colorful cabanas and tranquil waters (on the photo above).

I put some of the areas where you can taste oysters on the map.  When driving, look for “Degustation de Huitres” signs.  

The best rooftop bars in Bordeaux in my opinion are:

  1. Night Beach at the InterContinental Hotel (Le Grand Hotel).  Amazing views of the center of Bordeaux and the Garonne river especially at sunset.  Cocktails here are fantastic yet a bit pricey. Reservations recommended. Phone: 05 57 30 44 44
  2. Mama Shelter.  Chic bar in the center of Bordeaux with a hipster crowd.  Great views.  Service a bit hectic when the place is busy, so relax and enjoy the view.  Reservations recommended.  Phone: +05.57.30.45.36

Experience a yoga session in the tranquility of French vineyard.  Practicing yoga will awaken your senses and help you discover new aromas in wine.  

If you have a car, head over to Chateau Boutinet, about half an hour from Bordeaux, and practice yoga with a winemaker. 

If you would like to join an organized yoga tour, check out this Yoga and Wine Tasting Tour offer at my favourite Chateau de Reignac. A yoga class in a garden of a beautiful chateau, wine tasting in a good company and learning everything about wine making.  Can there be a better day in Bordeaux?

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