Discovering Bordeaux in Winter

City Travel, Cultural Travel, France — By on March 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm
bordeaux photosBy Katherine Logan
Special to Lost Girls

During the summer, Bordeaux attract hoards of wine lovers with its world famous vineyards and wine chateaux.   Sadly, every winter as the vines become bare of their juicy fruit so do the tour buses, as visitors shy away from this beautiful French coastal city when the cold arrives.  Without crowds to fight for reservations at the city’s finest restaurants or grumpy French waiters to fight as they wait for their own summer get-a-ways, winters in Bordeaux offer plenty of alternative activities in what many would argue is truly the best time for European travel.  With grandiose buildings, copper city lights, eateries and cozy cafes, Bordeaux is a dream destination 365 days of the year.  Here is a lost girl’s guide for a wintery trip to the French coast.

bordeaux For the off-season wine lover

Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum (Le Musee du vin et du Negoce de Bordeaux)

A refreshing change from the ordinary wine making instructional cellar tour, this museum is dedicated to the history of the business of wine.  Best of all, for 2 euros you can tack on a tasting at the finish.  The museum also has a very affordable and unique gift shop perfect for souvenirs or gifts for loved ones back home.

For the architecture nerd:

Guided Tour of the Grand-Theatre

Contact the tourist office ahead of time to reserve your place on this guided tour of the ornate Grand Theatre.  The guided tour is worthy of your time in its own right, but if you can fit in an opera or a ballet, this would the place to do it.  Rivaling Paris’ equivalent in beauty and quality, The Grand Theatre is one of Bordeaux’s greatest possessions, and won’t upset the pocketbook to the extent of its Parisian counterpart.

bordeauxFor the antique aficionado:

La Brocante, Place Quinconces

The Sunday Flea Market features booth after booth of vintage finds in this antiquer’s dream come true. From specialty oyster platters to the helm of an antique French ship, this is not your ordinary garage sale. Even if your suitcase has hit maximum weight, take the time to meander the maze of goods and stop at a crepe stand for sustenance on your way.

For the artist:

 Museum of Decorative Arts

A former aristocratic mansion, this charming museum showcases all that is interior design circa the 18th and 19th century.  From furniture, to silverware, to art, there is a little bit of everything in addition to the building, a sight in itself.  I wouldn’t recommend devoting too long to this particular museum, but it is surely worth a look.  In addition, it is located in a fantastic little area to stop for a coffee or a bit of post-museum people watching.

For the foodie:

Le Skopitone

This city center cafe and bakery will not make the cut in your ordinary tourist guide, but is both affordable and top notch.  The natives tend to lean towards the local seafood specials, followed by a selection of homemade desserts and of course paired with bottle of Bordeaux’s finest.  At affordable prices for the quality,  Le Skopitone should and must be a dinner spot on your Bordeaux itinerary.  Call ahead for reservations or get there before 8 p.m. if you expect a table any day of the week.

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