Visiting Bordeaux — a city synonymous with excellent wine — is a true French experience, combining old and new and ancient all at once. The wide boulevards, neoclassical Hausmannian buildings, and courtyards call to mind the best of Paris but are more intimate. If you take a river cruise, you'll dock in the center of town with all of the food, wine, and intricate architecture just steps away. Larger cruise ships dock in Le Verdon, about two hours from Bordeaux.
What We Love
St. Pierre: This walkable district is the heart of Old Bordeaux and is exactly what you'd expect from a historic district in France, with outdoor cafes lining cobblestone streets and landmarks dating back to the 1700s.
Bassins a Flot: The formerly scruffy industrial harbor went through a major revitalization and is now a residential area as well as home to chic art galleries with cutting-edge installments and exhibitions.
Best Known For
Wine Tasting: Don't laugh: There are even wine vending machines in Bordeaux. Buy a tasting card, pick your vineyard, press a button, and viola!
Sunday Markets: Feast on oysters and other elite edibles at the Marché des Quais. Then tickle your antique fancy at the Marché St-Michel for that perfect 1950s Louis Vuitton train case, copper pot, or WWII-era radio.
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Who It's Best For
Oneophiles: Bordeaux is the pinnacle and capital of the French national pastime and its most important export: red wine.
Foodies: Bordelaise gastronomy is among France’s most refined regional cuisines, but with the cross-pollination coming from the port, you can find an ebullient coastal assortment of flavors, from Normandy to the Mediterranean.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It’s So French: The stereotype of the haughty Frenchman might have come from Bordeaux.
The Cost of Cases Can Be Incredible: The wines here are some of the best in France, and everyone knows it. A case of the finest Bordeaux might set you back $20,000.
Sarah Rose is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for The Wall Street Journal.