Pick your winery: When in Bordeaux and that, what with its approximate 287,000 acres of vineyards. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to where to go for the best tasting hotspots, but a good one will probably set you back between €60 and €100. As the world’s capital of winemaking, you won’t find a better place to get lubricated in beautiful surroundings.
Place de la Bourse: Only Paris has more historic monuments in France, so it’ll be difficult not to stumble across one of them if you’re in Bordeaux. This, on the bank of the Garonne river, took 45 years to build for Louis XV, from 1730 to 1775 (so don’t ever complain of a hard day’s work again), but is one of the city’s most beautiful sights – especially at night, when its front is illuminated in front of the famous Water Mirror.
The Water Mirror: Speaking of which, if the weather’s nice – which in June, it should be in this part of southern France – there’s no better place to cool off than this pool, which adapts to the monument nearly three centuries old behind it. The Miroir d'Eau itself was actually installed less than a decade ago, but is already the most photographed site in Bordeaux.
Marche des Quais: You can have a bit of whatever you fancy every Sunday at the Quays Market, which features over 60 stalls selling food, drink, flowers and other miscellaneous wonders. If you follow the locals’ lead, it’ll be white wine and oysters for you. There’s a nice walk to be had along the Garonne, where you can scan the landscape, eat, drink and people-watch to your heart’s content.
Palais Gallien: Just outside the city centre you’ll find this 2nd-century amphitheatre once said to be a popular meeting place for witches. Oh, and lions. The latter were sport for 20,000 baying spectators, however, and the former… well, they probably didn’t exist. Nevertheless, this is the oldest Gallo-Roman structure in Bordeaux, with some arches, a gateway and walls still standing.
3 fast facts
- Bordeaux produces approximately 960 million bottles of wine each year. So don’t ever worry about running out.
- The city’s old nickname was ‘La Belle Endormie’ (Sleeping Beauty), because the pollution used to turn its buildings’ walls black.
- Bordeaux’s twin UK city is Bristol.
Where do the stars hang out?
Garopapilles is fast becoming Bordeaux’s most popular restaurant thanks to the inventive food of chef Tanguy Laviale. The atmosphere is relaxed, and its selection of wines appealing to one and all. Book in advance, though, else you might be disappointed.
Local cuisine you have to try
- Cannelés are a centuries-old local delicacy. These soft-centred pastries are made from flour, milk, eggs, sugar and butter flavoured with rum and vanilla – and you’ll find them everywhere.
- Try the oysters from Arcachon Bay: you might get them served with spicy cold sausage. Wash them down with some tourin soup, made with garlic and egg whites.
- Bordeaux’s red wines are a must, and the choice seemingly endless. The chances are you won’t have a clue what you’re picking off a menu, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a bad one, so try a few.
Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux
- Capacity: 42,115
- Year built: 2015
- Record attendance: 42,000 (France vs Serbia, 2015)
Bordeaux with Clive Allen, courtesy of Continental Tyres
The ex-Girondin, England, Tottenham, QPR "and everyone else" forward takes you on a guided tour of his old stamping ground. Wales play Slovakia here on June 11.
The Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux will have only been used for a season by the time Euro 2016 rolls around, but it has hosted a France game already – that 2-1 victory over Serbia in September 2015 (above). It’ll showcase five games this summer, including four in the group stage and a quarter-final potentially featuring Germany, Belgium or Italy.
- You needn’t fly direct to Bordeaux if it’s going to cost you a fortune. A train from Paris is easy, and takes around three and a half hours.
- You can get around the city on its tram system, which is an easy way to see a lot of it in a shorter space of time. You’ll need it to get to the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, just under four miles from the city centre. Get off at the Parc des Expositions stop, on Tram C.
- There’s not a whole lot around the stadium, so don’t count on spending much time there before any games you attend. Stick to the city centre – there’ll be more of an atmosphere.
3 most Instagrammable locations
- The Water Mirror: You might just catch it in the right mood.
- Jardin Public: a beautiful park featuring flowers, streams and greenery.
- Chateau Pape Clement: the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux. Wine barrels aplenty.
Sons and daughters of the city
Jerome Gnako: Bordeaux is famous for many things, but exporting quality footballers is not one of them – hence their scarcity on this list. Gnako shot to prominence with Monaco in the early ‘90s, though, finishing as a runner-up in the 1992 UEFA Cup, and played twice for France on the (unsuccessful) road to USA 94.
Frédéric Daquin: Scottish football fans will know of Daquin: the winger played for Hibs twice, Dunfermline and Dundee between 2002 and 2009, with a couple of spells back home in between. He played in Dunfermline’s 2006 Scottish Cup Final defeat to Celtic.
Richard II: England’s king from 1377 was born in Bordeaux. He didn’t last long in the hot seat, though, and was overthrown by a determined Henry IV in 1399. Poor Richard met his death soon after. Some people just don’t catch a break.
Édouard Molinaro: The French film director and screenwriter might be best known to an English audience for directing Dracula and Son with Christopher Lee in 1976.
Georges Rayet: An astronomer who specialised in the field of spectroscopy (nope, us neither). He founded the Bordeaux Observatory and discovered the Wolf-Rayet stars alongside a colleague in 1867. Well, you would name them after yourself wouldn’t you?
Fan park info
Bordeaux’s Euro 2016 fan zone will be homed in Place des Quinconces – one of the largest squares in Europe. It’ll be “one of the widest fan zones” according to the city’s own tourist website, and will have all 51 matches shown on the giant screens there. If you’re unlucky, you might catch some local music on a non-matchday.