A beautiful sunset from the Pont de Pierre in Bordeaux. / STEVE LE CLECH

TRAVEL

Bordeaux, the art of the bon viveur

The capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region has World Heritage status architecture and wine production. The locals enjoy a glass of wine while the Garonne flows through their beloved city

J. GARCÍA BLANCO

Bordeaux, the capital of the south-west of France, is famous for its culture, wine, food and zest for life. This charming city is only a few hours away from Spain by car, making it the ideal destination for a weekend break where you can lose yourself in its beautiful alleyways and enjoy its Christmas magic and tasty food.

The old town is a paradise for fans of fine dining. In its plazas and pedestrianised paths you can find world-class restaurants intertwined with historic landmarks.

The eighteenth century Place de la Bourse boasts a majestic façade which everyone who visits takes a photo of themselves reflected in the 'water mirror'. Not far from the Place de la Bourse are three Pey Berland monuments which have been declared World Heritage Sites by Unesco: the namesake tower, which is an excellent viewing platform for looking out over the city, Bordeaux Cathedral and Palais Roan, which is now the city hall. Near the monuments are the Cailhau palace gate and the Big Bell (Grosse Cloche), which leads to the trendy Saint-Michel neighbourhood. In the north of the old town you will find the Chartrons neighbourhood, an old wine merchants' district which today is the epicentre for antiques dealers and designer shops.

There are many food markets in the city, one of the best ways to explore the local cuisine

The Cité du Vin museum is also located in the north of the city, on the edge of the Garonne. It is a unique building combining spectacular architecture and an exhibition which reveals the rich diversity of global wine production. Digital audio guides are available so you can follow from your phone in English. On the other side of the Garonne, you can find the Darwin ecodistrict, which strives to model an 'ideal' city. Situated in the old military barracks, there is an urban farm, an open-air gallery for graffiti artists, a coworking space, a food store and a restaurant called Le Magasin Général, both of which offer organic and local produce.

There are many food markets in the city, one of the best ways to explore the local cuisine. In the Chartrons market, you can try regional specialties such as oysters, pig intestines with garlic, local cold meats, lamprey and Canalé, a sweet French pastry flavoured with vanilla and rum, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The Capucins (Marché des Capucins) and Halles de Bacalan market, near the Cité du Vin museum, offer an array of delicacies to eat on the go or take away.

Eating out in Bordeaux's restaurants is also a must. Blind is a wine bar and south-western French restaurant with a Peruvian influence where you can also do a blind wine tasting. The south-western cuisine that La Brasserie Bordelaise restaurant prepares is also very interesting.

In the mood for appetisers

If you want an appetiser, a good option is the In the Mood For Wine bar, which is located in the Comédie plaza on the top floor of the luxury InterContinental hotel. With one hundred square metres of open-air space, there is the opportunity to enjoy a unique view of Bordeaux while sampling wine.

For a more informal atmosphere there is the Boca Food Court. There are communal eating spaces and a wind range of food options including Algerian cuisine, meats and small appetisers. Zephirine is a new, informal restaurant boasting a simple but refined menu. It is based on the concept of an urban inn and also has a grocery store.