Bordeaux travel guide

Author: Lindsey Tramuta
Photography: Lindsey Tramuta

Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa
Grand is the operative word for this neoclassical pile in the city's golden triangle. After years of decline, the 18th-century hotel began extensive renovation in 1999, under the guidance of the famed Parisian architect and designer Jacques Garcia. The bandages came off in 2007, revealing soaring spaces, an opulent spa and the spectacular royal suite with its panoramic city views. Le Pressoir d'Argent, the hotel's restaurant, will reopen next year with the promise of a Michelin-starred chef in charge. 2-5 Place de la Comédie 

Mama Shelter
Ping-pong tables, neon fixtures and in-room video booths are the signature quirks in this fifth and newest Mama Shelter boutique hotel. The rooftop terrace, with day beds and city views, is a magnet for locals and unquestionably the city's favourite hangout for a nightcap or weekend brunch. 19 rue Poquelin Molière

Black List
Third-wave coffee is still a relatively new concept in France, but the budding culture in Paris has made its way south this year in the guise of the café Black List. Its beans are sourced from the capital's star roaster, Belleville Brûlerie, and it has the prerequisites for a relaxed and familiar experience: fresh flowers, white tiled walls, a sleek La Marzocco and an array of homemade cakes. 27 Place Pey Berland

Le Bô Bar
There's never a dull moment at this matchbook-sized cave à manger from Benoît Veyret-Logerias, a veteran of renowned Paris wine bar Le Verre Volé. Locals shuffle in nightly for a glass selected à l'aveugle (blindly) paired with platters of charcuterie, cheese and boudin noir. 8 Place Saint-Pierre

Enjoy some of the region's best wines at this elegant 20-seat bar. The weekly menus are well-crafted edits of French classics, such as sautéed scallops and cassolette de ris de veau, but the bar's real draw is more than 1300 fine and rare wines from across France and Bordeaux vintages, priced to sell. 40 rue Lecocq

L'École du Vin classes
Take a crash course in Bordeaux appreciation with this city-sponsored school that offers two-hour private classes in English at its wine bar tucked behind the National Opera house. Tours of wine country, including a three-day grand crus course, are among more intensive options. 3 Cours du 30 Juillet

Cafe Utopia
During a break from shopping in the prim boutiques lining Cours de l'Intendance, stop for a glass on the sun-dappled terrace at Café Utopia, a bar-cum-cinema and art complex housed in the 17th-century former Saint Siméon church, or settle in for a film, from classics to cult. 5 Place Camille Jullian

La Cagette
Rub elbows with fashionable young locals at this canteen with a killer terrace at the Place du Palais. The menu plays up seasonal produce in colourful salads at lunch and flavourful mains, such as beef tartare with pumpkin for dinner. Dessert at either meal is a must. 8 Place du Palais

Une Cuisine en Ville
Food-lovers book ahead for Michelin-starred chef Philippe Lagraula's imaginative, market-fresh cooking inflected with South American flavours, including rocoto and aji amarillo chillies. Foreign flavours extend, too, to the wine list. 77 rue du Palais Gallien

Expect cuisine as international as its multicultural crew, schooled in Paris's top kitchens. The inventive, carte-blanche menu incorporates flavours from each chef's origins - Israel, Vietnam, Japan and New Caledonia - and is best enjoyed at the wooden bar overlooking the open kitchen. 33 rue du Cancera

Canelés are the city's homegrown rum-flavoured confection with a custardy centre and caramelised crust. Guidebooks pay outsized attention to pricey Baillardran, but locals go to La Toque Cuivrée. 126 Boulevard Jean Jacques Bosc, 33 130 Bègles

Explore the 8th-century town of Saint-Émilion, 40 minutes' drive away. It's a World Heritage site and Aquitaine's most scenic spot, with an Instagram-ready old town, underground monuments, famous vineyard and châteaux. 

Air France flies from Paris to Bordeaux (75 minutes), or take a TGV train (3 hours and 15 minutes).

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