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Bordeaux’s must-see architecture

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 13 March, 2024

Bordeaux has some 347 listed buildings – only surpassed, in France, by Paris – such that UNESCO designated the entire city as World Heritage site in 2007.

The ‘old’ style architecture falls into two main periods. The Quartier Saint-Pierre and the city’s great churches recall the Middle Ages, when Bordeaux was the main port of English Aquitaine.

The harmonious riverfront façade and majestic Quartier des Grands Hommes was built around the 18th-century Enlightenment – much of it funded by the massive wealth generated by the slave trade. Recent years has seen Bordeaux graced with striking new architecturally-interesting buildings.

Laid out in the 18th century, the wide streets of the Golden Triangle are home to some of Bordeaux’s best buildings. The Place de la Comedie, houses the majestic Grand Theatre and nearby, there’s the wonderfully overblown Monument aux Girondins in the enormous Place des Quinconces, dedicated to Bordeaux’s revolutionaries. Inside its grand Medieval gates, the Porte Cailhau and the Grosse Cloche, you’ll discover old Bordeaux – a maze of streets filled with intimate boutiques.

Many of the city’s monuments are beautifully illuminated at night and open late, making it a great time to see the sights during the hot summer months.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Bordeaux Cathedral

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

The exterior of the cathedral and its two spires

Experience

Bordeaux’s enormous Gothic Cathedrale Saint-Andre is the city’s most majestic medieval landmark; the church dates back to 814 AD, but it was predominantly constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries. Don’t miss the sculptures of the Porte Royale and a climb up the Tour Pey-Berland belltower for a bird’s-eye view over the city centre.

Good for age: 18+

Grand Theatre of Bordeaux

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

The grand theatre in Bordeaux, a building with many pillars.

Experience

Designed by the great Parisian architect Victor Louis (1731-1800), this neo-classical beauty features 12 columns with twelves statues, representing the nine muses and three goddesses. It’s equally grand inside, with heart-stopping frescoes and a grand staircase. First inaugurated in 1780, today’s it’s home to the National Opera of Bordeaux.

Good for age: 18+

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La Meca Art Gallery

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

La Meca, a cultural venue, shaped like a rectangular arch

Experience

A dazzling new addition to the Garonne riverbank, this 120m-long, futuristic, looping arch of golden concrete is a popular cultural centre and creative hub. Designed by appropriately-named architect firm Big and Freaks.

Good for age: 18+

La Porte de la Lune

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Exterior of Palace de la Bourse, doubled in the reflection of a puddle

Experience

Set on a crescent-shaped bend in the Garonne, Bordeaux’s riverfront port is a work of art. The kilometre-long, UNESCO-listed façade of 18th-century buildings by Jacques Gabriel is breathtakingly illuminated after nightfall. The stunning Place de la Bourse is reflected in an enormous mirror of water from 900 misting jets.

Good for age: 18+

Porte Cailhau

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Porte Cailhau, a castle-like monument that used to be the gate to the city

Experience

This beautiful monument was built in 1494 as a triumphal arch to commemorate Charles VIII’s victory at Fornovo. It was later integrated into the city walls and today forms one of the gates to the old city from the port. You can go inside for an exhibition on how it was built, and for views from the tower.

Good for age: 18+

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

  • Bucket List Experience

Exterior of Wine City building on a sunny day

Experience

Wine City

A museum dedicated to the history of wine and its relationship with Bordeaux, housed in a spectacular modern architectural jewel.

Adult price: 18

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around