Pont de Pierre Bridge over the Gironde River in Bordeaux, France
Language and Currency
What is Bordeaux Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A passport is required, but no visa is required for stays less than 90 days.
The official language of France is French, but some English is spoken in many tourist areas. The official currency of France is the euro. Dollars are rarely accepted, other than at some souvenir shops and other high profile tourist locations. Even there, euros may be demanded. The best way to obtain euros is by using your ATM card at one of the plentiful ATM machines. Traveler's checks are rarely accepted as well.
Bordeaux is France’s second largest city and is ever as charming as Paris (the largest) Bordeaux fronts the La Garonne River and is located some 35 miles inland from the ocean. The river has very turbulent tides, which rise and drop some 18 to 20 feet with each tidal change. Bordeaux is also the epicenter of the Bordeaux region that is made up of some of the best vineyards and wineries in the world.
Beautiful St. Emilion
Countryside unfolds quickly after leaving Bordeaux’s vibrant streets alive with activity and commerce. No visit to Bordeaux would be complete without a tour to one of the 57 different appellations (wine growing regions) that make up the area. Each wine apellation has its own Central village and these (with the accompanying wineries) are usually the focus for shore excursions.
Bordeaux enjoys excellent weather with temperatures in the mid 70s during the summer and cooler winters. Bordeaux averages about 8 days of precipitation per month during the summer, so it is a good idea to have a compact umbrella with you just in case one is needed.
Ships dock at the quay directly in front of one of the main structures in downtown Bordeaux. The de la Bourse is an imposing structure made up of government buildings and a hotel and is one of the main entrances to Bordeaux’s old town area. Just beyond lies the Pont de Pierre (the first bridge built in Bordeaux by order of Napoleon in 1810) and at the foot of the bridge lies the ancient entrance to Bordeaux, the Porte de Bourgagne, a beautiful Roman gated entrance that goes back several centuries.
Bordeaux offers world class shopping and it is quite easy to find. Simply enter Bordeaux through one of the entrances mentioned above and penetrate the pedestrian streets after walking a few blocks. You will soon enter shopping streets that seem to go on forever. Also, each of the various villages that reside in each wine region usually has ample shopping opportunities for that region’s wines and many tourist boutiques as well.
First and foremost are the fabulous wines from the Bordeaux wine regions. There are numerous wine stores right in downtown Bordeaux with every wine district represented. Designer fashions, cosmetics, perfumes, men’s fashions, accessories, local art and foodstuffs, crystal and just about anything you can imagine is available in Bordeaux.
Quaint St. Emilion
First, one could easily spend an entire day taking in Bordeaux’s sights on foot. Its pedestrian streets, numerous cathedrals museums, monuments, small parks and shopping areas are enough for anyone to amuse himself or herself. Add in Bordeaux’s wonderful sidewalk cafes and restaurants and you have the perfect blend for a day well spent in a wonderful city. However, around the entire circumference of Bordeaux lies one of the most prolific wine producing regions in the world. Dating back well over ten centuries, the villages in the wine regions are simply wonderful. I took a day excursion to the small village of Saint-Emilion and found the experience very memorable.
Saint-Emilion is in the heart of the saint-emilion region and is a very quaint village dating back centuries and offers wonderful sights. We visited a local chateau (as vineyard and wineries are called) for a wine tasting before visiting the village of Saint Emilion and its wonderful underground church (the largest in the world) catacombs and other unique sights. Shopping in Saint-Emilion was excellent with numerous wine stores (one for each winery in the appellation it seemed), many designer clothing stores, tourist boutiques and of course, restaurants and sidewalk cafes. All in all, it was a wonderful day and well worth the trek to get there.
Many shore excursions will offer other villages to visit and also possibly an evening at one of the chateaus for dinner and entertainment.
Drinking a bottle of Bordeaux wine in one of the sidewalk cafes along rue sainte Catherine, a pedestrian shopping street full of wonderful shopping opportunities and fascinating people.
There are excellent restaurants throughout the region. None stands out as the best though.