Tour Itinerary of Bordeaux

The proposed itinerary crosses the historic center of Bordeaux - Port of the Moon to discover its architectural and historical riches. It starts in front of Tourist Office, cours du 30 Juillet, in the Saint Pierre District. Follow the guide ...


Saint Pierre District (from the Place de la Bourse to the Place du Parlement)

This is the location of the ancient port of Burdigala. Pierre, the patron saint of sailors, was honored by the entire city.
In the 12th century, the docks were moved further south. The district would resume life in the 18th century thanks to Intendents Boucher and Tourny (local administrative officials), who were awarded the honor and the burden of its redesign. They opened the area to the outside by removing the walls, landscaped the Place de la Bourse and created the Place du Marché Royal (Place du Parlement). The façades of the houses are richly decorated with masks, molding, stone balconies and wrought iron. See also "Place Saint Pierre."


The Grand Théâtre
Place de la Comédie
, 33000 Bordeaux
Website - tel : 05 56 00 85 95.
Information about guided tours available on site.

Built on the orders of the Duke of Richelieu, Governor of Guyenne, by Victor Louis between 1773 and 1780, the building was one of the jewels of Gothic architecture in the city. It now houses the Opéra National de Bordeaux, one of the most beautiful theaters in France.

Its exterior is decorated with twelve Corinthian columns topped by statues of the nine muses and three goddesses (Juno, Venus and Minerva), and it’s up to visitors to recognize them! Visitors will note the monumental staircase, the coffered ceiling of the hallway and the ceiling of the magnificent concert hall, which showcase large-scale paintings. Tours of the interior are available through the Tourist Office, or by attending a performance.


Place de la Bourse
(tram line C, underground parking lot)

Originally called Place Royale, it is the symbol of the prosperity of the city. The Place de la Bourse faces the waterfront overlooking the Garonne. A model of classic architectural art of the 18th century, it owes its beauty to the Intendent Boucher and royal architect Jacques Ange Gabriel, who tore the medieval walls down between 1730 and 1775 to open the city to the river.

To the north stood the Palais de la Bourse (now the Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and the Hôtel des Fermes (now Directorate of Customs) to the south, which houses the National Museum of Customs. Opened in 1984, this museum presents the history of the Customs Administration (see "Museums"). The architecture of the Place Royale influenced that of the houses on the quays. The renovated stone façades reveal a sumptuous décor of pediments and masks representing of course, Bacchus (god of wine) but also female faces, angels, and fantastic animals.

An equestrian statue of Louis XV reigned over the square until the Revolution (during which it was destroyed). Today you can see the Three Graces Fountain designed by Luis Visconti in 1869 that represents the daughters of Zeus (Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia).

Recently the quays have been transformed into a promenade. The homogeneous alignment and beauty of the façades stretches for over a mile, and are reflected in the Miroir d’Eau, a permanent pool featuring beautiful lights in the evening.


Musée National des Douanes
1 Place de la Bourse
, 33000 Bordeaux
Website - tel : 05 56 48 82 82.
Full price / reduced price : €3 / €1.50. Free for those under 18 years old.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Accommodation for families available. For children 7 years old and up: "Hello, little customs officer" game available at the ticket counter to discover the museum as a family.

The only museum covering the history of customs in France. Located in the magnificent building of the former Hôtel des Fermes, the museum traces the history of France through one of its oldest administrations. The museum’s collection discusses the issues, organization and functioning of the customs department. A thematic tour offers visitors a look at the daily life of customs officials and the waves of fraud throughout the years.


Place du Parlement
(Tram line C, station : Place de la Bourse)

At its creation in 1760 the square was called Place du Marché Royal, with the intention of linking the port to the city. The current name of the square honors the powerful parliament of Bordeaux established from 1462 to 1790. It is a masterpiece of architectural harmony. The buildings that line the square date back to the early 17th century. As in many places, the building façades in Louis XV style are richly decorated with masks, wrought iron balconies and arches. The fountain in the square was added in 1865.


Place Saint Pierre
(Tram line C, station : Place de la Bourse)
See also "Saint Pierre District."

This charming square was the entrance to the harbor in ancient times. In 1832, a statue of Hercules dating from the 3rd century (that certainly adorned the entrance) was found under the square. This archaeological find is one of the most beautiful pieces in the Musee d'Aquitaine. The square is organized around a 14th century church. Restored and modified in the 19th century, it nevertheless retains the south and west doors and the Gothic choir dating from the 15th century.


The Porte cailhau (1496)
23 Place du Palais, 33000 Bordeaux
tel : 05 56 48 04 24.
Price: €3.50. Free for children under 12 years old.
Open daily: 10 a.m. to noon/ 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Not recommended for young children. Main entrance to the city, it was constructed in a military style in honor of King Charles VIII, victor of the battle of Fornovo (Italy). His statue stands on the side facing the river. The emergence of the Renaissance era influenced its architecture and offers unexpected decorations. From its 35-meter height visitors can enjoy a beautiful view over the city, the river and the Stone Bridge (1822), the first bridge of Bordeaux.


Saint Michel District

To discover on foot. The Saint Michel district has long lived along the river. Its small artisans (carpenters, coopers, blacksmiths and gunsmiths) earned their living from the passage of barges (flat-bottomed boats) loaded with raw material cargo from the confluence of the Garonne River (from Quercy, Rouergue, Gascogne). The Saint Michel Basilica, in its Gothic style, is at the heart of this lively working-class district (see "Religious Heritage"). Market held on Monday and Saturday mornings by the church.


Basilique Saint Michel
(Tram line C, station : Saint Michel)
Place Canteloup and Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux
Open daily: 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Mondays and Saturdays morning: 10 a.m. to noon.

Built between the 14th and 16th century in a Gothic style, its first occupants were a college of canons. The church became an important step on the Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela and because of this the Saint Michael Basilica has been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 1998 (see "Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela").

The Saint-Jacques chapel has a wooden altarpiece from the 17th century decorated with a painting of "The Apotheosis of Saint-Jacques" (1632). The chapel, dedicated to the pilgrims, houses the tomb of one of these travelers called "jaquets", as well as a pieta dating back from the late 15th century and the Louis XV organ buffet dating back to 1774.


Flèche Saint Michel
Place Canteloup, 33000 Bordeaux
Full price / reduced price : €5 / €3.50. Free for children under 12 years old.
Open daily from April through October : 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. / 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The bell tower of the Saint Michel Basilica was built between 1472 and 1492 and rises 114 meters toward the sky, one of the highest in the country. Visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the surroundings from the tower. Discover the history of the district, the spire and the church, and listen to a concert of its 22 chimes. Reservations are required to visit the tour, available at the Tourist Office. Not recommended for young children.
Outdoor market on the square on Mondays and Saturdays. Flea market on Sundays.


The story ... of mummies
In 1791 the old cemetery surrounding the church was removed, and became the current Place Meynard. The bones were stacked in the crypt beneath the bell tower and covered with earth. Dozens of bodies were then exhumed, placed in a circle in the crypt, and because they were so well conserved by the clay soil, the display quickly turned into a sort of museum. The mummies, inspiring many legends, attracted curious onlookers, and sometimes famous ones. Victor Hugo visited the crypt in 1843, followed by Théophile Gautier a few years later. The crypt was closed in 1979 and the mummies were buried, this time in the cemetery of the monastery.


The Porte de la Grosse cloche (XVème siècle)
Rue Saint James, Cours Victor Hugo, 33000 Bordeaux
Tel: 05 56 48 04 24.
Open daily from June through Septembre: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The rest of the Year, on Saturday: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Attached to the church of Saint Eloi, the gate served as a belfry for the former City Hall. The two towers of Saint Eloi, nicknamed the Big Bell, rise 40 meters high. Pilgrims following the Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela passed under the Porte de la Grosse Cloche. Many changes were made over the centuries following its creation. The leopard appearing above the door recalls the arms of the English Guyenne of which Bordeaux was the capital. The current bell was cast in 1775, weighs 7,800 kilograms and is two meters in height and diameter. Recently restored, the bell is beautifully lit in the evening.


Place de la Victoire
(tram line B. Station : Victoire)

A popular area for having a drink, watching a show or concert or hunting for rare finds during one of the many thematic markets.


The Porte d’Aquitaine (1753)
Place de la Victoire, 33000 Bordeaux

One of the eight entrances to the city sits at the center of the Place de la Victoire. Its name was given in memory of the Duke of Aquitaine. Imposing, in a triumphal arch 32 meters wide, the Porte d’Aquitaine is topped by a triangular pediment (attic) decorated with sculptures of sea gods and the royal coat of arms on the side of the square, and fruits and flowers on the side of Rue Sainte Catherine.


Sainte Eulalie District

To the west of the Sainte Croix district, this area was built around the parish church of Sainte Eulalia, which was the starting point of Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostel. Religious architecture has marked the history of this area, rich with architectural remains. It included many convents with cloisters and gardens, reflecting the splendor of the era. Today the convents Annonciade and Notre Dame still exist. The area was mostly populated by craftsmen (masons, tanners, oil merchants and carpenters). Strolling through the picturesque streets of the district allows visitors benefit from its historic significance and beauty.


Musée d’Aquitaine
20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
Website - tel : 05 56 01 51 00
Permanent collections: Full price / reduced: €4 / €2. Temporary exhibitions: Full price / reduced: €6.50 / €3.50. Free - 18 years.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For children: workshops, activities and games booklet for visiting the permanent collections.

Located in the premises of the former Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Aquitaine Museum presents the history of Bordeaux. 700,000 pieces make up the collections of the museum, including a magnificent bronze sculpture of Hercules and Gallic treasures. Three main themes are explored throughout the museum: archeology, history and ethnography. The section of African and Oceanic art reflects the important cultural mixing the city experienced through its port activity.


Place Pey Berland
(Tram lines A and B, station : Hôtel de Ville)

From this square visitors can access the Saint André Cathedral and its bell tower (Pey-Berland Tower), as well as the Palais Rohan.


Centre National Jean Moulin
Place Jean Moulin, 33000 Bordeaux
Tel : 05 56 10 19 90.
Free admission.
Open daily: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Mondays.

Museum and documentation center focusing on the Second World War. Its three levels of collections are dedicated to the Resistance and the Forces Françaises Libres (military units of the Resistance).


Cathédrale Saint André
(Tram line A et B. Station : Hôtel de Ville)
Place Pey Berland, 33000 Bordeaux
Tel : 05 56 52 58 10.
Open daily excepted on Monday morning: 10 a.m. to noon/ 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday and Wednesday until 7 p.m. and Saturday until 7:30 p.m.
International Organ Festival in the summer.
This monument is included on the World Heritage List under the Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela (1998).

Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the cathedral was consecrated in 1096 by Pope Urban II, who came to preach there during the First Crusade. It offers a fine example of Gothic architecture.

Many royal weddings have been celebrated in the cathedral, including that of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Louis VII, son of the King of France, in 1137. During the following century, the cathedral was damaged several times by storms and fire. Only the magnificent Portail Royal (1250), protected by the townhouses against the wall, escaped destruction. In the 19th century, after serving as fodder reserve during the Revolution, the renovation led by architect Abadie formed a coherent architectural ensemble.

The nave dates back to the 12th century, while the choir and chapels are from the 14th century. It was completed in the 15th century with the completion of the bell tower, or the Pey-Berland Tower, as well as the two 81-meter towers on the north façade. One of the largest in France with a wingspan of 15 meters, the organ was restored in 1982.

The Tympanum : Below, the lintel depicts the Last Supper. Above, you can see the ascension of Christ among the twelve apostles. At the top of the tympanum, God is portrayed as a Christ enthroned between two angels.


Tour Pey-Berland (1446)
Place Pey-Berland, 33000 Bordeaux

- tel : 05 56 81 26 25.
Full price / reduced price : €5.50 / €4.50. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (or under 18 years old for non-EU citizens)
Open daily from June through September: 10 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; October through May, Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed on Mondays.

The tower bears the name of the archbishop who built it. In a flamboyant Gothic style, the bell tower of Saint André Cathedral has a spire topped by a statue of Our Lady of Aquitaine. The choice to separate the construction of the tower from the cathedral meant that larger bells could be used, whose vibrations could have weakened the structure of the whole building. Magnificent views of Bordeaux from the terraces.


Palais Rohan (1784)
Place Pey-Berland, 33000 Bordeaux
Tel : 05 56 48 04 24.
Full price/ reduced price : €5 / €3.50. Free for children under 12 years old.
Guided tours on Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m. and on Fridays at 10 a.m., meeting point in front of the palace.

Ferdinand Maximilian Mériadec de Rohan built this residence when he became archbishop of Bordeaux in 1771. The palace became the seat of the City Hall from 1837 onward.
Not to miss : the grand staircase, considered a masterpiece of Renaissance antiques, the rooms on the ground floor in a Louis XVI style with carved linden wood and trompe-l'oeil figures.


Musée des Beaux Arts
20 Cours d’Albert, 33000 Bordeaux
Website - tel : 05 56 10 20 56.
Opening times: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.
Permanent collections: Full price / reduced: €4 / €2. Temporary exhibitions: Full price / reduced: €6.50 / €3.50. Free - 18 years.

Situated on the grounds of the Hôtel de Ville. The museum displays beautiful works (French, Dutch and Italian) from the Renaissance, as well as more contemporary paintings. The Hall of Fine Arts, which presents the temporary exhibitions, stands opposite the museum.


The porte Dijeaux (1748)
Place Gambetta, 33000 Bordeaux

Its name comes from the Gascon "De Jou" (Jupiter), recalling that a temple of Jupiter sat at the same location during the Gallo-Roman era.


Eglise de Saint-Seurin
   

Place des Martyrs de la Résistance, 33000 Bordeaux
Tel : 05 56 48 04 24.
Free admission.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. (closed on Monday and Sunday afternoon).
Tours offered from June through September, Saturday: 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Visits of the necropolis: June through September (fee). Information available at the Tourist Office.

The Church of Saint-Seurin was named after the fourth bishop of the city. Built in the 6th century, it is the oldest place of worship in Bordeaux, and its crypt is one of the oldest historical remains of the city.

Although many additions have altered the Gothic style over the centuries, it remains a masterpiece of Romanesque art. On the south portal, the tympanum traces the Last Judgment. The crypt contains an impressive Christian necropolis from the 4th to the 18th century. Today, it tells the story of Christianity in Bordeaux. The legend says that this cemetery was consecrated by Christ and that some of the martyrs who died in Roncesvaux were buried there.

It is also said that this is where Charlemagne left Roland’s Horn. In the Middle Ages it was an important stop for pilgrims on the Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela. In 1998, it was included on the World Heritage List.


Palais Gallien (2nd century) 

Rue du Docteur Barraud, 33000 Bordeaux
Tel: 05 56 48 04 24.
Free admission.
Open daily from June through September: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Guided tours from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Information available at the Tourist Office.

The Palais Gallien is the only visible remains of the Roman city of Burdigala. This imposing amphitheater (130 meters long and 110 meters wide) could accommodate more than 15,000 people attending the games of the Circus. Its three levels of archways were built in alternating brick and stone. There are only a few spans and arches from the original great amphitheater. Today the palace gallery features paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Curiously, this palace is named after the wife of Charlemagne, Galiene. Indeed, in the Middle Ages legend had it that the ruins of the Gallo-Roman building were the remains of a palace that Charlemagne had built for his wife. Another version: it was the emperor Gallienus who had it built.


Petit hôtel la Bottière (1783-1788)
13 rue Saint Laurent
, 33000 Bordeaux
Website

Price: €10.
Open from April through June, on Saturday. Visit at 3 p.m. Duration: 1 hour.

Even if today the Petit Hotel La Bottière hosts a B&B, it remains a unique place in Bordeaux that has been fully restored to its original condition, furnished with antique furniture that recreates the living environment in a Bordeaux mansion during the Enlightenment. Guided tours are available through the Tourist Office.


The public garden 

Place du Champs de Mars, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., until 9 p.m. in Summer.

The 18th century saw the emergence of the naturalist movement in which urban spaces became a place of leisure. Cities then multiplied the creation of gardens. In Bordeaux it was the Intendent Tourny who decided on the creation of the current 10-hectare public garden. During the Revolution the garden was transformed into a Champ de Mars where official ceremonies took place. Then under Napoleon III it took on the configuration that can be seen today.

The many mansions that border the garden create an architectural unit contributing to the magic of the area. Decorated with botanical discoveries and activities for children, this English park provides a well-deserved break for visitors. Very interesting and rich botanical garden including 2500 species of plants.

For children : 10 hectares of garden with many attractions: puppet theater, boats, carousel, playground ...


Musée d’Art Contemporain CAPC (Contemporary Visual Arts Centre)
7 Rue Ferrère
, 33000 Bordeaux
Website - tel : 05 56 00 81 50.
Permanent collections: Full price / reduced: €4 / €2. Temporary exhibitions: Full price / reduced: €6.50 / €3.50. Free - 18 years.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays until 8 p.m.
Guided tour (€3) on Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m.

This museum is housed in the former colonial merchandise warehouse, the customs warehouse Entrepôt Laine, a superb example of pre-industrial construction of the 19th century. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux offers a program of temporary exhibitions and thematic journey through the history of art, music and contemporary creation. The museum offers visitors an internationally renowned collection of 1,300 works by 189 artists.
Children can discover contemporary art and develop their creativity through workshops. Every Wednesday and every day during school holidays from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Reservation necessary.


The esplanade and the place des Quinconces

It is the largest square in Europe, covering 12 hectares. The Esplanade was built on the ruins of the Trompette Castle, slowly sloping toward the Garonne. This vast fortress, built in the 15th century, was part of a military and defensive architectural ensemble built by Charles VII during France’s recovery of Bordeaux to assert the supremacy of the Kingdom on its subjects.

Work on the Esplanade lasted 10 years, and it was completed in 1828. Trees planted in quincunxes make up the walkways and link the banks of the Garonne to the Monument aux Girondins by a wide path. In honor of the victorious maritime campaigns, two 21-meter Neoclassical rostral columns face the river and mark the entrance to the square. The decoration at the base recalls the supremacy of ancient Rome on the seas. Visitors will also note white marble statues of Montaigne (Mayor of Bordeaux) and Montesquieu (Member of Parliament) that date back to 1858.

A carnival is held here in March and October.


The Monument aux Girondins (esplanade des Quinconces)

The Monument aux Girondins, in memory of the political activists that share its name, was erected merely a century after the demise of this political movement to celebrate the victims of the Terror (during the Revolution) and the Republic. After 15 years of work in 1902, the column rose 54 meters above Bordeaux, topped by a statue of Liberty breaking her chains. It is the work of sculptors Dumilâtre and Rich. At its base the statues represent the city of Bordeaux, the Garonne River and the Dordogne River. The bronze fountains symbolize the Triumph of the Concorde and the Republic, whose chariots are pulled by sea horses. On the side of the Grand Théâtre, the figures represent Vice, Ignorance and Falsehood.

Behind the monument visitors will notice the architectural unity of buildings arranged in a semicircle. The rest of the buildings around the square were built in a classical style for the sake of artistic coherence.


Who were the Girondins ?
"La Gironde" was the name given to the political movement begun by a group of activists during the French Revolution, a group in favor of the establishment of a Republic in France. The movement chose this name because of the involvement of several members of government from the Bordeaux region. The Girondins party held a majority in the Legislative Assembly and the National Convention ; the opposition was made up of Montagnards. Both parties clashed violently and the movement ended in blood, with many of its activists executed in 1793.


Allées de Tourny (1757)
The Intendent Tourny was at the origin of these tree-lined walkways. To the north, the walkways begin at the square of the same name where the statue of Tourny stands. From both sides rise 18th and 19th century building façades.


Eglise Notre Dame (1707)
(Tram line B, station : Grand Théâtre)
1 Rue Mably, 33000 Bordeaux
Tel : 05 56 81 01 37.

This former Dominican chapel unveils a richly decorated Baroque façade on the Place du Chapelet. The interior, more sober, has remarkable acoustics. The beautiful organ case dates back to the 18th century. The church hosts many concerts. Guided tours are available.

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