As we have traveled around the world we have learned so many amazing things about history, architecture, and cultures. While in France, we discovered that the city of Bordeaux has all of these.
There is an exciting array of things to see and do in Bordeaux, so we suggest beginning a visit with a tour. We used to try exploring on our own most of the time, but now we have come to understand that a good tour is best way to get acquainted with a city when visiting for the first time. With this in mind, we are happy to say that we found Free Walking Tours Bordeaux.
Their tours are a great way to get to know the city with a knowledgeable, friendly and experienced local Guide. And guess what, it’s free. Just tip your guide if you feel like they did a good job, and we know you will. There’s just no better way to see the highlights of the city.
After meeting at the Monument aux Girondins, a soaring tower dedicated to the Girondins as martyrs of liberty, take a stroll through the historic center of Bordeaux and get to know some of its secrets such as its special gastronomy, monuments, and of course, the main attractions. Many of these surround the fabulous Place de la Bourse.
Perhaps the most famous of these, the Miroir d’Eau or Water Mirror, is also one of the newest. This unique reflecting pool is made a layer of about an inch of water spread over dark granite slabs. This creates a giant mirror-like pool covering almost forty thousand square feet. If you’re like us then you will need a frame of reference for that size, it is about an acre, or nearly the size of a football field.
The surrounding plaza has become one of Bordeaux’s most recognizable places and is lined by such great examples of eighteenth century classical French architectural that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.
Not far from the square is the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. This theater, which dates back to 1780, is home to the Opéra National de Bordeaux and the Ballet National de Bordeaux.
Now we know that there are many of us who love to see the cathedrals throughout Europe, well it just so happens that there are a couple great ones nearby.
The Église Saint-Pierre, or Church of St. Peter, is a fine example of a Gothic church from the 15th century with wonderful stained glass. But the main church for the city is also very close, the Cathedral of St Andrew of Bordeaux.
You really can’t miss it because the spires can be seen towering over the city from almost anywhere in town. The church was founded way back in the year 814, but construction of the current incredible Gothic structure began in 1305.
Walk straight toward the Garonne River from the church and the Porte Cailhau will be directly in front of you. This is the gate into the city at the oldest bridge in the city. The impressive tower remains almost unchanged from when it was built way back when Columbus was sailing around the New World.
But there is more to Bordeaux than historic architecture, the name of the city and surrounding area is basically synonymous with wine. So you might want to check out one of the wonderful wine tours that Free Walking Tours Bordeaux also offers.
You will stroll through the wine merchant streets while learning about the different grape varieties in Bordeaux, the important wine regions in in the area, and how to read a wine label like a pro. And don’t worry, there is definitely some wine tasting. Enjoy glasses of four classic Bordeaux wines, along with a delicious platter of assorted cheeses. The tour also includes a visit to Cité du Vin, the world’s largest wine museum.
So now you can see why we find tours like these are such a great way to get introduced to a city. We also find that it helps plan for returning to take a more in depth visits to some of the places we see and learn about. This is why we always suggest that the tour should be early in your visit if you are staying for more than a day or two.
So, even though we still love to go off and explore on our own, a good tour and guide can certainly make a visit to a city like Bordeaux a much better over all experience.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com