Whether it’s a picnic on the Garonne River or sampling produce at a local farmer's market, Bordeaux local Héléna Ardizzi-Bon recommends the foodie places you must try in her home town.
This popular farmers' market is where the locals go to shop, a fantastic place to look for groceries or simply soak up the colourful atmosphere. It’s also a great option for lunch, as long as you are not too full from the samples of the local produce offered freely for you to try.
Some of the ‘must-try’ savoury food from the Bordeaux region includes Bassin d’Arcachon oysters, Lamproie (lamprey) fish, locally produced caviar, Asperges de Blaye (asparagus), Agneau de Pauilac (local lamb) and Bazas beef (local beef, very popular and beautiful to eat).
Don’t forget to try our duck. There are so many great ways of sampling this classic meat in Bordeaux: Magret de canard, fresh, smoked or dry, confit. Those with a sweet tooth should try Canelé, Macaron de Saint Emilion and Sarments or Noisetine du Médoc, both local chocolate treats.
I suggest you wander into the Marché des Capucins where you will see how the locals barter for food. Here you will also find a few little bars where you can have oysters with a glass of white wine whilst you people-watch. It’s a great place to observe the world going by.
While you’re in the area, check out the antique stores between St Michel and Les Capucins, catch a comedy act at Place de la Comedie, or swing by the Grand Hotel on Montpelier Square. It’s the most beautiful place in Bordeaux.
The beautiful Garonne River runs through the centre of Bordeaux. A stroll along it is a relaxing way to see the best of the city. Take your time, peruse the shops and enjoy the scenery.
There are plenty of gardens and benches to rest along the way. A highlight is the Le Miroir D’eau, or Water Mirror. It’s less than 10 years old, but has already become one of the city's main attractions and even listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
One of the best things to do is have a picnic with friends on the river bank, especially on a hot summer’s night. For it to be a typically French picnic, you’ll need to bring a bottle of wine, a baguette with charcuterie and cheese bought at the Capucins market. A few little canelés (pastries) would be welcome too, no doubt.
Of course, Rue St Rémy is close by, lined with restaurants. Most are tourist traps, except for La Brasserie Bordelaise, which serves local produce and a great wine list too and a very local ambiance.
Nothing says Bordeaux more than a tasting of the local wine and the best place to do that is the bar of Le Boutique Hotel. It has a little garden in the middle that is a wonderful and peaceful place to sample the best wines the region has to offer.
If you are really serious about your wine, you should head to the bar belonging to the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux), the organisation responsible for certifying Bordeaux wines. As you can imagine, they have a great wine bar with a sommelier who will guide you through the few thousand different Bordeaux wines. This is a truly authentic wine experience and educational too.
If you are looking for a wine to take home, try the wine shops around the Place de la Comédie. The prices may be high but these guys are very professional. There are over 10,000 different wines produced locally. They’ll help you find the one that's right for you.
La Guinguette Alriq is a terrific place for dinner and live music. It’s also a great spot to admire Bordeaux by night as you are facing the city from the river side. The name of the restaurant is Le Magasin Général. The last time we went there, my husband Guillaume had oysters and chicken and I had an algae and tofu salad, which was excellent.
Of course, you could also eat with a local. There are numerous online services offering to connect visitors with locals, keen to invite you into their home and share a meal. I’m a host on VizEat, for example, and love welcoming travellers and locals alike to eat dinner with me and my husband. My speciality is Porchetta, a young pig part stuffed with fresh herbs and slowly cooked over a few hours. I also make yellow wine and morel flavoured chicken. Another classic of mine is truffle-stuffed brie cheese. I always use seasonal and fresh local produce, picked up from Marché des Capucins.
The opportunity to eat in a locals home also allows you to pick a local’s brains about the best things to do in the area, so you have a unique and enjoyable experience in Bordeaux.
Climb the tallest sand dune in Europe then reward yourself with the best oysters in France on this day trip from Bordeaux. The incredible La Dune du Pilat is a 45-minutes journey from central Bordeaux, but well worth the drive. The area offers incredible views from the top of the sand dunes and showcases the gorgeous Le Landes Forest. There are plenty of opportunities to hike or bike in the protected forest and it is a great spot for a drink or meal overlooking the Bassin d’Arcachon.
Afterwards, drop by the port of La Teste in Bassin d’Arcachon and sample the deliciously fresh oysters. There are a number of well-regarded restaurants on the harbour, including Dégustation d'huitres Lé Fé Bassin and Les Huîtres Fleurs d'Ecume, and a number of stalls selling oysters fresh off the boat. For the freshest oysters, however, consider going on one of La Teste’s famous oyster farm wine and oyster tasting tours, where oysters are plucked straight from sea and served immediately with a slice of lemon.