Imagine quaffing a fine bottle of red in the grounds of a decadent chateau, within hours of leaving London’s grey skyscrapers behind.
From July 2, Eurostar begin operating a new high-speed rail service from St Pancras to Bordeaux, with tickets now available from £110 return.
Although still almost a six-hour journey, it’s a scenic and comfortable way to reach the French Unesco-crowned city. Need further persuasion? Be tempted by these great sights.
1. Place de la Bourse
There are 347 listed historical monuments in Bordeaux, and this royal square framed by grand 18th century façades is probably the most recognisable. A statue of Louis XV originally stood in the middle, but was destroyed during the French Revolution. The Three Graces fountain was built in its place.
2. La Cite du Vin
Contained within a bold, futuristic building is an interactive museum dedicated to wine. Set in the Bassins a Flot district, overlooking the Garonne River, it has 20 themed areas covering everything you need to know (from terroir to table) about decent plonk. Take a simulated ride on a wine merchant’s galley, and sit back in a giant chair listening to tales of drunkenness in an installation dedicated to ‘the hangover’. Entry costs 20 euro. Visit Cit du Vin for more info.
3. Miroir d’eau
Goggle at your reflection in a pool of water or be blinded by cloud of mist in this entertaining outdoor art installation opposite Place de la Bourse; the two effects rotate on a cycle in the world’s largest reflecting pool. Designated by Unesco as a contemporary World Heritage Site, it’s one of the most instagrammable spots in Bordeaux.
4. Pey-Berland Tower
Enjoy a view of the city’s rooftops by climbing the 229 steps of this Gothic bell tower next to the Saint-Andre cathedral. The 15th century building contains an eight-tonne tenor bell from Notre-Dame, still used today. Only 19 people at a time are allowed inside the monument, so arrive early (10am) to avoid crowds. Tickets cost 6 euro. Visit Pey Berland for more info.
5. Aux 4 Coins du Vin
It’s not exactly a vending machine, but the serve-yourself equipment at this swish wine cellar is certainly a novel way to beat bar queues. Choose from 40 wines by the glass and 800 by the bottle. Waiters are on hand to help out if you need a human touch. Visit Aux 4 Coins du Vin.
6. The I.BOAT
Ride party waves on board this three storey ferry without actually having to set sail. Docked permanently at the Bassins a Flots, this hipster boat hosts concerts, exhibitions and club nights. Dine on tapas and burgers in a restaurant on the main deck (open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday) or drink coffee in the sunshine upstairs. After midnight, the upper deck turns into a chill-out zone. Visit I.BOAT for more info.
7. Suburban vineyards
Bordeaux is within easy reach of some of the world’s finest chateaux. Visit the medieval town of Saint-Emilion – home to Petrus, Angelus, Cheval Blanc – or sample Margaux wines in the Medoc. Both can easily be done in a day trip, with lunch, tastings and a driver for 149 euro. Book through the tourist board.