Bordeaux is perhaps the world’s most famous wine region, and visitors have long flocked to southwest France for its vineyards and historic châteaus. In recent years, the city of Bordeaux itself has become a more popular destination, thanks in part to the 2017 establishment of a two-hour TGV fast train from Paris. In particular, the Bacalan-Docks neighborhood has boomed since the 2016 opening of the flashy Cité du Vin wine museum. Suivez-nous (follow us) for a guide to this refreshingly modern part of the city.
Things to See
Start by spending at least a couple of hours at the jaw-dropping Cité du Vin, where you can learn about the history of wine using high-tech interfaces before partaking in the most important inter- active experience: a tasting in the cellar or at the top-floor bar. Next, get some visual stimulation at Les Vivres de l’Art, an indoor-outdoor space where metal sculptor Jean-François Buisson exhibits kooky welded pieces. From there, head to Bassins des Lumières, a sprawling venue that opened in the summer of 2020 at a World War II–era submarine base and features an immersive digital light dis- play in which works by artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Klimt are projected on walls, floors, and wet docks. Finally, stop off at the three-year-old Musée Mer Marine to see art and artifacts documenting France’s maritime history.
Things to Eat
Come hungry and prepare to be spoiled for choice at Les Halles de Bacalan, a 10,000-square-foot food hall across the street from the Cité du Vin. The 22 stands at the five-year-old venue hawk goods and prepared items from local farmers, bakers, oyster shuckers, and more. Enjoy the fare outdoors on the terrace, around the oak wine barrels that double as tables. For a more traditional dining experience, check out Bar de la Marine, from chef Frédéric Coiffé, a Bocuse d’Or competition finalist. The restaurant uses local, seasonal ingredients, such as Espelette peppers from the nearby Pyrénées and juicy figs (ripe in September), in dishes including shellfish risotto and lamb shoulder confit.
Where to Stay
The 149-room Renaissance Bordeaux Hotel, which debuted this past summer, makes an immediate statement: Visitors enter through a cluster of 115-foot-tall silos that have been a skyline staple since the 19th century. Other design elements, such as deep red velour couches and golden frescoes in the shape of Bordeaux’s appellations, nod to the wine-growing region. The real draw, though, is the ninth floor, where the Italian restaurant and bar Gina, a heated indoor pool, and an outdoor patio look out over the Cité du Vin, the vertical-lift Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge, and the docks that give this hip district its name.
From $170, marriott.com