Bordeaux is one of those places you wish you own a place somewhere in the wonderful spacious city west of France. If it was not for the language barrier, I could definitely see myself living here.
When talking about Bordeaux, people usually resonate it with wine and its large vineyard. I'm not a big alcohol person so wine-tasting and such activities were not something I would do. If you are looking for Bordeaux wine-tasting opinion piece, this article is not for you. What I am interested in though was the European architecture and Bordeaux delivers. Let's check out what you can do in Bordeaux in one day other than wine-tasting.
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Where to Stay in Bordeaux
There was only one hostel I found in the city and it was not listed on any of the hostel websites. I had to look it up in French and to save you from spending hours trying to find a hostel, here's the place I stayed: "Auberge de Jeunesse de Bordeaux".
This is a typical youth hostel that operates like a school dorm so don't expect amazing service here. The bed was good, the room was big and clean and the price was the cheapest in the city. To make it even better, the price also includes free breakfast which is a welcome addition. The hostel is very well located as well:
From the central train station, the direction to the hostel is pretty straight forward. Go out of the train station and turn left. Continue straight until you see the roundabout and then turn right onto the Rue Furtado. From there, head straight pass at least 4 intersections on to Rue Vilaris and turn right to Cours Barbey and the hostel should be on your left. The walk should be around 10 minutes.
How to Get to Bordeaux
The best way to get here is to fly into hub cities like Paris or Lyon and take a train or a bus from there. I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo to find all the cheap flights from where you live to France and compare them so that you can find the one best fit for your itinerary.
I took the train from Avignon to Bordeaux. It was not the cheapest option but it dropped me off right in the city center a few minutes walk away from the hostel. If you value your time, the train is your best bet but if not then the bus from which ever city you are coming from will probably be cheaper. Again, if you are willing to sit with a stranger, try carpooling with Blablacar.com.
To book a train, visit the SNCF Voyage website.
To book a bus, I would recommend searching your route through Rome2rio to find the cheapest route. If not, you can book your bus from InfoTBC Busline website or also, you can never go wrong with FlixBus as they are run widely throughout Europe.
How to Get Around Bordeaux
Walking is the way to go. This city is beautiful and spacious! You would be a fool not to walk and enjoy all the architecture up close. Otherwise, the tram is your main transportation. I used it a couple of times for longer distance travel.
Traveling here, on average, will cost you more than traveling in most countries out there. You can expect to spend around 45 - 65 USD per day per person with food, accommodation and transportation.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to France, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
24 Hours Backpacking Guide to Bordeaux
1. Visit the Place de la Bourse
This is probably the most recognizable sight in Bordeaux. The building stretched across the oval-shaped square showing its magnificent 18th century architecture. If you look at the building from afar, and you would want to (see the next paragraph), you would appreciate the perfect vertical symmetry.. and also horizontal.
2. Be mind-blown by the Miroir des Quais
Across the street from the Palace, by the river, sit the largest water mirror in the world. This water mirror is covered with a thin layer of water that gives it its mirroring effect. Not just that, the mirror is equipped with a fountain system that create a fog effect reaching up to almost 2 meters.
From this point of view, you would be able to see the Place de la Bourse in its full glory. The mirror, when it's not pumping out fog, creates a perfect symmetrical image of the palace. It was one of the most spectacle piece of art I have ever seen.
If you are a photographer, be sure to go back there during the sunset and at night as well. Trust me, you'd love it!
3. Shop at the vintage market at the Basilique Saint-Michel
If you have been traveling in Europe for a while, you are probably getting bored of looking and churches and cathedrals. I was as well, but this one was exceptional, and not to mention accidental. I was walking toward the palace until I stumbled upon a vintage market under the spire of the Basilique. As it turned out, the locals come gather in this square every Monday and Saturday morning to sell their vintage items. The shops around the square make for a lively and authentic atmosphere of Bodeaux that a photographer in me appreciated.
What are some of the vintage items they sell you asked? This.
Walk the Pont de pierre stone bridge
This stone brigde is a stunning creation that shows the marvelous technical prowess of the French empire during the 18th century. The bridge was built to connect the left bank of the Garonne River to the right bank quartier de la Bastide. It is both amazing and head-scratching to think of how they managed to build this bridge given the width and the strong current of the river.
4. Walk through The great bell of Bordeaux
This is an impressive bell tower built in the 15th century to alarm people in case of fire. The tower architecture has a medieval feel to it and anyone who appreciate architecture will definitely enjoy the sight of the Great Bell in front of them.
5. Shop at the Rue Ste Catherine
This is one of the longest shopping street in Europe. Across both side you will find all kinds of shops for you to do window-shopping. This place is the definition of the phrase "Shop until you drop".
Digital Nomad Friendly Cafe
The Books & Coffee coffee shop is the one I would recommend. Located right under the Great Bell tower, you can choose to either sit outside under the bell or inside. The place has great atmosphere with the smell of coffee diffusing with books and a constant humming sound of people chattery. Coffee, power outlets, and WIFI, all the things I look for in a cafe, they delivered. The staff speaks great english as well which is pretty rare in France. Nothing makes me happy than finding a great hidden gem such as this.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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