At the end of last year, Cole sent me an article of the 25 Must Visit Hotels in 2016. One of them was the Intercontinental Bordeaux, which just converted to an IHG property. It looked gorgeous and we decided a weekend full of wine was a great idea so we booked a flight for the first weekend of May.
We left early Friday morning and got into Bordeaux before noon. The hotel was incredible, right in the center of town and across from the opera house. As we walked down to the river, we found that Bordeaux had a bike share program for 1.50 euros for 24 hours! We knew that would be a great way to explore the city and cover a lot of ground. Plus, after 6+ months in Amsterdam, we are now biking experts.
We walked along the riverfront which was beautiful with a huge urban park and incredible bridges. We stumbled into a little quaint square where we ordered lunch. Afterwards, we grabbed the bikes and ventured all over. We biked past the famous churches, crossed the Pont de Pierre bridge (it has 17 arches!), which had a stunning view looking back onto the amazing architecture. Turns out, Bordeaux used to be called the “sleeping beauty” as it had this incredible buildings and architecture, but the city had become a bit tired and run down. The mayor at the time, spent millions of dollars power washing all the buildings along the river, closing down the port and building a promenade that has various sporting fields, skate park and even an outdoor mall.
We then trekked all the way to the “modern” bridge. After our arduous bike ride, we stopped for a drink along the water at Le Riva restaurant, which had a great outdoor terrace. We then walked through the Jardin Public and wandered through the beautiful streets.
That evening we had a delicious steak frites dinner at the brasserie restaurant in the Intercontinental. They seated us next to a window overlooking the opera house and the town square. Afterwards, we went on a mission to find the best Nutella crepe in town.
The next morning we had an scrumptious French breakfast at Karl in Place du Parlement (I think this was one of our favorite squares in town) and then headed over for the start of our winery tour. There are many different tour operators in the area (we actually picked ours through the Office of Tourism right down the street from the hotel). We selected Ophorus and went to Margaux and stopped at 3 chateaux. Each had its own charm but the last one, Chateau Siran, was my favorite (maybe it’s because they served 4 glasses of wine 😉). We opted for the half day tour as we still wanted a bit more time to explore Bordeaux and we thought it was plenty of time. There are thousands of wineries in the Bordeaux and most our family owned, only producing a few thousands bottles every year. Depending on the soil, area, and grapes used, each wine tastes completely different. Even chateaux right across the street from each other could have different soil which would result in a completely different type of wine. I really enjoyed the tour and our tour guide was very interesting and provided us with many fun facts throughout the day.
Afterwards, we grabbed some drinks with a couple from the winery tour and ended up getting along with them really well. We decided to try this pizza place, Capperi, with incredible reviews (#2 restaurant on TripAdvisor), but it was tiny (4 tables only) and had no tables for the rest of the evening. Even the wait for take out was an hour! We decided the hype must be worth it so we decided to wait the hour out at a nearby bar and took the pizza back to the couples’ Airbnb. We ended the night with a few more drinks at a nearby bar.
Unfortunately our flight was early Sunday morning and it turns out that it was actually a public holiday so almost everything was closed. We grabbed a quick bite in one of the squares soaking in the sunshine and then headed to the airport.
We were both surprised at how beautiful and charming Bordeaux was! I think we went in with low expectations and were blown away by its beauty and charm. While its relatively small, there’s plenty of things to do, see and explore over a weekend. For wine lovers, I would highly recommend visiting Bordeaux – especially now that the new wine museum is open (and it’s shaped like a decanter http://www.laciteduvin.com/en – how cool!)