JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH SAID CHAMMAS FROM BORDEAUX, FRANCE !
Saïd likes to refer to himself as an explorer, adventurer and dreamer. With every passing day he falls more in love with what Bordeaux has to offer. He organises many guided tours for tourists as he is always keen on sharing Bordeaux’s rich history. Bordeaux for him is the city of lights, beauty, culture and of course of the best Wine! You can follow his journey online through his blog and social media channels where he posts different kind of contents related to travels, life, books and movies.
Bordeaux, a port city on the River Garonne is the fifth largest city of France but more recognisable than any other French city after Paris. There are no skyscrapers in Bordeaux, due to the weakness of the underlying soil. The Old Town is home to many attractions such as the Place de la Bourse, the Basilica Saint-Seurin and the Museum of Aquitaine.
Situated in Southwestern France, Bordeaux is known as the ‘City of Art and History’ for its 362 historic monuments. The historical part of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site. After Paris, Bordeaux is the city with the most listed monuments in France.
Bordeaux, with 287,000 acres of vineyards, is the location of the world’s main wine festival and the biggest producer of wines such as Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. The region’s climate and soil are ideal for high quality viticulture. The Bay of Biscay steps into the Gironde estuary, cutting through Bordeaux’s centre creating the left and right bank winemaking regions.
Bordeaux, a port city situated in the Aquitaine region of France, is also a UNESCO world heritage site. As a local, when do you think is the best time to visit the city?
Bordeaux is definitely a must visit and in my opinion, even though, I love Bordeaux in winter, I think Spring and Summer are the best times to visit the city. During Winter, it usually rains often, however during dry days, I would definitely take a train to nearby Arcachon or Dune de Pilat and have a splendid cloudy view of the ocean! Otherwise, for tourism, markets, and leisure, Spring and Summer are the best seasons.
Starting April, tourists begin to arrive to the city!
What is the best way to reach Bordeaux considering most tourists land in the capital city Paris?
There are many ways to reach Bordeaux.
First Bordeaux has its own airport, with many airline connections. If you arrive to this airport, you only have to take Bus N.1 that takes you to the center in approximately 45 minutes. It cost 1.70 Euros per person.
Otherwise, if you are in Paris, then the best way to reach Bordeaux is by TGV (High speed trains). The TGV is a high-speed train that operates all over France and beyond. The international TGV services connect France with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Spain.
They are so comfortable and the ride takes about 2hours 20 minutes. There are many TGV between Bordeaux and Paris, approximately every hour. It is recommended to book in advance to have the best prices and they tend to become expensive especially during summer.
In order to book here is the website : https://www.oui.sncf/
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Bordeaux?
Concerning the transport inside the city, Bordeaux has an amazing public transportation system including buses and tramways. Public transport is run by the TBM (Transports Bordeaux Métropole). There are 4 tramways lines A, B, C and D that will get you basically everywhere in and around Bordeaux. One ticket that lasts one hour cost 1.70 Euros. While inside the tramways you can enjoy the view of Bordeaux all around, it is like being in a touristic bus.
You can also purchase a 24-, 48- or 72-hour Bordeaux City Pass. It includes limitless use of public transport and free admission or discount to many museums and attractions. Prices start from €29 for a 1-day pass (may vary).
You can also book a taxi with companies like Uber, eCab, Taxis Couleurs Bordeaux (+33 5 56 21 33 33) or Aquitaine Taxis Radio (+33 5 56 86 80 30) to get around the city.
If you are a cycling enthusiast, V3 (VCub) is a bike-sharing scheme run by the city of Bordeaux with over 1,500 bikes in more than 130 docking stations. You can subscribe online, at their docking stations equipped with a credit card terminal or by simply calling +33 9 69 39 03 03.
For all information about public transportation : https://www.infotbm.com/fr
Which are the best places to visit in Bordeaux ?
Bordeaux has a lot to offer and here is a list of places that are a must-see –
La Cité du Vin (or Wine City) is a landmark not to be missed, as you know Bordeaux is very well known for its wine. It is a digital museum that will teleport you to different continents, centuries and civilizations showing you the wine history and travels throughout the decades. It is like going inside a wonder world where you will have to use all your senses to make to the most out of this unique place. It is a journey not to be missed when in Bordeaux!
Location: Quai du Bataclan, 3 km north from the city centre on the bank of the Garonne River.
Website : https://www.laciteduvin.com/fr
Darwin Eco System, in my opinion is one of the must-sees also. Darwin is located on the right side of Bordeaux after the Garonne river. It is the alternative place to visit. A kind of a city inside a city where you will find co-working spaces, the biggest organic restaurant in France, an alternative high school, different activities and associations that made this place their home. A different way of life is implemented there, an eco-responsible one. All this project built on the remains of a military base that used to exist there in the past.
Mirror or Miroir d’eau is the first place visited by tourists. Built in 2006, it is 3,450 sqm big and reflects the beauty of the most amazing square which is Place de La Bourse. When there, you have a view towards the river, the stone bridge (Pont de Pierre), Place de la Bourse and all of the Quais of Bordeaux. It is a must see also at night when all is lit! To really enjoy the Miroir d’Eau, it is better to be there during end of spring and summer.
Location: In the centre of Bordeaux, on the bank of the Garonne River.
You must also pay a visit the Bordeaux Old Gates. As Bordeaux was a fortified city in the past, there are some beautiful gates remaining: La Grosse Cloche, Porte Cailhau, Porte Dijeaux.
Of course Bordeaux has a lot more to offer, the list goes on and on :
Musée d’Aquitaine, tells the story of Bordeaux from prehistory to modern, including the story of the port of Bordeaux and transatlantic trade.
CAPC Museum, Saint André Cathedral, located near the Town Hall, this is the most beautiful religious monument in Bordeaux.
Saint Michel Cathedral, (the largest of Bordeaux), its 114 metre spire makes it the second tallest church building in France. A stroll along the right side of the river in addition to all the neighbouring and splendid regions that are reachable by trains such as the wine village of Saint Emilion, Arcachon and Dune de Pilat (amazing beach destinations) Cognac, and many different villages.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Bordeaux ?
As stated above, Bordeaux is close to different beautiful destinations such as :
Saint Emilion : One of my favorites, it is known to be the wine village. You can reach it by taking a train from Bordeaux Train Station Saint Jean. The ride is about 30 minutes long. This charming village is a UNESCO world heritage. Once you arrive, you will be amazed by the all the vineyards all around you. You will see vineyard and wine castles everywhere. Take the time to walk, enjoy the view until you reach the center of the town. There you will find many beautiful shops and restaurants. There are also guided tours organized by the tourism office of Saint Emilion so make sure to visit it for all information.
Arcachon and Dune du Pilat: The Atlantic ocean is just 45 minutes from Bordeaux by train. From Gare Saint-Jean, you take the train towards Arcachon station. There you have splendid beaches where you can swim, have a drink or just have a stroll in the beautiful city. If you are looking for an amazing view where the forest meets the sand that meets the ocean, then it is imperative to go up to the top of the Dune du Pilat. An amazing walk with a breathtaking view. Make sure to get a bottle of wine with you, especially if it’s sunset time! 😉 ☺
Bayonne, Biarritz, Saint Jean de Luz : All breathtaking destination about 1 hour by train from Bordeaux. Bayonne is kind of a big village with its beautiful coloured buildings, endless shops and happy and smiling people. Biarritz, 30 minutes from Bayonne is one of the best beach destination. Thousands if not millions of people visit during summer. You can enjoy great food, beautiful sceneries and of course amazing sand beaches. Saint Jean de Luz is just after Biarritz. It is also a small village, with a beautiful beach. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains. For me it is the relaxing place to spend a day or two. I like the small streets and tiny shops. A must visit if you are ever in Bayonne or Biarritz!
Which are the must try local dishes and popular places to try them ?
One of the best known and traditional food that all tourists try is the Canelé. A domed cake, which is a little bit burnt on the outside but very soft on the inside. It is usually made with sugar and egg yolks and flavored with Vanilla and Rum. Some of them are also flavoured with chocolate. A must try when you are in Bordeaux! Found at almost any bakery in Bordeaux.
As Bordeaux is close to the ocean, this means seafood is a delicacy here. Oysters are my favorites. The ones from Arcachon and Cap Ferret. There are many markets and restaurants in Bordeaux that offer them and I think it is a must to all visitors loving seafood.
Are there any popular weekend/night/ vintage markets in Bordeaux which tourists must visit?
The best shopping place of Bordeaux is Rue Sainte Catherine. It is the biggest shopping street of Europe, 1250 meters long and with over 250 Shops. You can spend hours wandering and walking, enjoying the shops, cafés and bars. It is like a huge open mall. Being the heart of Bordeaux , wherever you want to go, you will have to pass by the Sainte Catherine street.
Location: In the centre of the city, between Place de la Comédie and Place de la Victoire
Otherwise there are also many markets to visit in Bordeaux such as the following :
Marché des Capucins is a big market where you can basically find everything. A 10-minute walk from Saint-Jean train station, Marché des Capucins is also served by several bus routes. It is open every day, and you will find a very friendly environment inside. You can either just walk and buy fresh food, or also sit in one of the restaurants for lunch with friends where you will surely enjoy delicious food!
Location : On Place des Capucins, between the Place de la Victoire and the Sainte-Croix church.
Marché Saint Michel : Just next to the big Basilique Saint Michel in Bordeaux, a big vibrant market open every Saturday where you will basically find everything you can think of. Really nice atmosphere and also surrounded by many cafés and restaurants.
Marché des Quais : It is an open market near the Quai des Chartrons neighborhood where you can walk and enjoy the view of the Garonne river. This market is open every Sunday and you will find lots of fresh foods, cheese, even books and flowers and my favorite of all : Oysters!
Location : 1.5 km north of the Place de la Bourse in the centre of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux is the largest wine growing region in France. Any suggestions on the best vineyards to visit or wines to try?
There are lots of wine villages around Bordeaux. The most known and closest is Saint Emilion. 30 minutes by train. There, you can visit lots of amazing wine castles and taste different types of wine in this medieval village.
Nevertheless there are also many areas filled with vineyards you can visit such as : Médoc, région Blayais-Bourgeais, Pessac Léognan and Région entre Deux Mers.
All these are accessible by car or also by train from Bordeaux.
Please suggest the best hiking trails in and around Bordeaux.
I love Hiking a lot and organised many hikes around Bordeaux. Many of which, the starting point is accessible by tramway.
Lormont : A city 30 minutes from Bordeaux by tram where there is a big park and a marvelous view towards Garonne river and Bordeaux. It is a suburb of the city of Bordeaux and is adjacent to it on the northeast. Favored by its geographical location, Lormont was initially a defensive site, a port and a place of residence and resort. Nestled in the heart of the city, the park of the Hermitage in Lormont is unique in the Bordeaux area for its ecological dimension. The Lookout is the highest point of the park which offers a panoramic view of all Bordeaux, the river and the bridge of Aquitaine.
Bassens : A small city, kind of village with beautiful nature trails where you can hike for like 1h30min or 2 hours.
Blanquefort : A beautiful city to the north of Bordeaux filled with green areas and a big park called Majolan, where you can hike for about 3 hours visiting the small streets of the city as well as the park. The park features a 4-hectare lake, artificial caves, and fountains and geysers designed in a baroque style. La Maison des Jardiniers, is a restaurant located at the entrance of the park.
Location : 50 km northeast from Bordeaux city centre.
Sentier du Littoral : This one starts in a train station called Le Teich about 30 minutes from Bordeaux. The walk is amazing and unique because you hike to coastline just next to the atlantic ocean. It is so formidable, a must-do experience!
Would you suggest any events in Bordeaux to drama, music or art lovers?
I highly recommend a place called Utopia. It’s a building that used to be church in the past and now transformed into a café and a cinema, but not any kind of cinema. It is a cinema where they show old movies, many of which are in Black and White and also from the 50s and 60s. Movies, many of them you might not have heard of but are really good. It is one of my favourite paces in Bordeaux. Here is the website : http://www.cinemas-utopia.org/bordeaux/
Concerning musical events, there is lots that happen In Bordeaux during summer, in different streets. There are even latin dance events open for everyone. The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is a venue that host operas, dance and music performances. It is located at Place de la Comédie in the centre of Bordeaux, 400 metres from the Garonne River. For more information, you should refer to the website of the municipality of Bordeaux or the tourism office.
If you are an art lover, several museums in Bordeaux offer free admission every 1st Sunday of the month. Bordeaux’s Musée des Beaux Arts is one of the larger provincial art galleries in France, showcasing French and Dutch art. It includes works by Van Dyck, Reubens, Titian, Chardin, Delacroix, Corot, Boudin, Bonnard and Matisse.
Bordeaux Fête le Vin is a wine festival that takes place once every 2 years, in the month of June, showcasing wine, sumptuous cuisine, fun and fireworks. It is held along the River Garonne in the city centre. Also, Wine Chateaux Open Visits, where several wine producers in and around Bordeaux allow people to sample the new vintages in the month of November.
Where can one spot street art in Bordeaux?
You can find street art in the locations I suggested above and different streets . But if you are a big fan, I would recommend visiting Darwin Eco System, where all the buildings are filled with street art. There is a special association that paints them.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Bordeaux?
I think the biggest hidden gems are Utopia and Darwin Eco system as many people don’t really know about them but they are a must. Apart from that it is important to have to TBM application on your phone. It is the application for all buses and tramways in the city. Very useful to know how to go from one place to another.
As a local would you want to give any suggestion/tip to tourists visiting Bordeaux?
Bordeaux is an amazing city! I just love it. It has so much to offer. Enjoy it during the day but also during the night because it is magical. Take your time while walking around it at night, visit the small streets, the tiny bookshops, see the cafés and bars filled with people.
It is a vibrant city filled with culture, leisure activities, delicious food, nightlife so make sure to take your time to enjoy it! And if you have extra time, don’t forget to check the nearby places such as Saint Emilion and Dune de Pilat!
THINGS TO KNOW
To Reach Bordeaux :
By Air : Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport is located 11 km west of the city centre. The airport is connected to major cities in France, Europe and North Africa.
By Rail : Bordeaux-Saint-Jean Railway Station is located south of the city centre and can be reached in about 2 hours from Paris by TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse – High-Speed Train).
Access from Paris :
- by road: about 5 h 40 min (363 miles) via the A10 autoroute (L’Aquitaine)
- by train: about 2 hours by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse
- by plane: about 1 h 15 min to Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport
Average temperatures range from 3ºC in winter to 26ºC in summer. October to April, with an average of 10-12 rainy days per month.
Primary language: French
International dialling code: +33 5
Emergency telephone number: 112
Like it? Pin it.