In the heart of wine country, the city of Bordeaux in south-western France is one which has pretty much everything a tourist could want – lovely architecture, close proximity to a beach and plenty of places to sample local food and drink. Despite many of the city’s iconic buildings dating back at least a century, the rejuvenated wet docks are proof that Bordeaux is moving with the times. The city is reminiscent of Paris in parts as well as many older English cities – for a while, Bordeaux was under English rule. Bordeaux has a rich nightlife too, thanks in no small part to having a large student community, while there are plenty of venues to see a show, look at artworks up close and learn about the city’s history.
The narrow streets of central Bordeaux are a little difficult to drive down in bigger vehicles. A small and sensible supermini will make getting around the city less problematic.
Driving in Bordeaux
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
The beltway which surrounds Bordeaux can be a little clogged between 8-10AM and 4-7PM. Driving outside of those hours isn’t too bad though.
Car parks in the city centre are known to be expensive and, during peak times, full. If possible, park just outside the centre and make your way there by foot.
Bordeaux has three tourist information centres- in the centre on 12 Cours du XXX Juillet, at the Airport and at the Gare St-Jean railway station. All are open on weekdays and Saturdays.
Highlights & Hotspots
To get the best panoramic views of Bordeaux and the surrounding area, the best place to go is the tower of Saint-Michel. After climbing the tower’s 243 steps, you’re able to see all the city’s landmarks and even some of the vineyards if you take a pair of binoculars!
Speaking of wine, the Musee do Ven et du Negoce on 41 Rue Borie is, despite its size, the best place to learn about the importance of winemaking to the city. After the tour, you can indulge in a bit of wine-tasting if you’re in the mood.
Musee D’Art Contemporain on 7 Rue Ferrere is the place to see modern art in Bordeaux. Although admission is only free on Sundays, the installations and exhibitions make a trip worthwhile if you have a couple of hours to spare.
Rue Sainte Catherine is the best place in town to go shopping. As one of Europe’s longest pedestrianized precincts, it’s a good place to pick up new and second-hand fashion as well as music from local artists.
Bordeaux-Merignac Airport, 7.5 miles west of Bordeaux, is the city‚Äôs main airport. It has three terminals ‚Äì A, B and Billi. Destinations from Bordeaux include Dublin, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Stansted, Belfast from June 2014 and Liverpool.
To get to and from the airport, you need to get onto the N653 until reaching the junction with the A630 highway. Then, you can drive either northbound or southbound towards various parts of Bordeaux.