The port city of Bordeaux, in the south-west of France, is a fantastic holiday destination for families. Not only can you look forward to great weather and delicious French cuisine, there’s also plenty to see and do! From boat trips, botanic gardens and historic chateaux to hands-on science and carousels, here are 10 wonderful things to do in Bordeaux with kids:
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Our family spent a week in Bordeaux and thoroughly enjoyed this stylish and friendly French city. It’s beautiful to walk around, and the tram system makes travel very easy. We rented a house for the week through AirBnB, not far from a tram stop so we could hop on and get into the city centre easily. The Garonne river, which runs through Bordeaux, is not only picturesque but means you can enjoy boat trips too.
The region is famous for wine production, and there are plenty of vineyards and wineries to visit if you fancy a day trip.
We’ve chosen 10 fun things to do in Bordeaux and the surrounding areas so that you can be ready to explore all this beautiful French city has to offer!
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Fun Things To Do In Bordeaux and Surrounding Areas
#1. Miroir d’Eau
The Miroir d’Eau (Water Mirror) or Miroir des Quais (Quay Mirror) in Bordeaux is the world’s largest reflecting pool, covering 3,450 square metres. It’s a very unusual pool, made of granite slabs covered by 2cm of water.
You’ll find the Miroir at the quay of the Garonne, in front of the Place de la Bourse. In summer, a system creates fog every 15 minutes. When we were there it was during a heatwave, so this was a lovely treat to cool off the feet in!
It’s particularly pretty at night when the nearby buildings are lit up and reflect off the water.
#2. Boat Cruise on La Garonne
We went with Croisières Burdigala for a river boat trip. They have a one and a half hour cruise which leaves from Quai Richelieu near the Frog and Rosbif pub. Ludmilla, our tour guide, did a lovely job of explaining the sights on the way.
It’s a pleasant journey and allows you to see some of the interesting sights along the river, including the fabulous Wine Museum Cité du Vin, its shape apparently inspired by the movement of wine swirling in a glass.
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#3. Museum de l’Aquitaine
While not the most interactive of museums, there’s plenty to look at in the Musee de l’Aquitaine – and kids go free which is a bonus.
It takes you from Neanderthal times right up to the 20th Century. Look out for a full size Roman mosaic and a replica shop showing all the goods that came from trading in the port. We also enjoyed the shipping section with all the different models of boats that came in and out of Bordeaux.
#4. Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux
The Botanical Gardens in Bordeaux make a pleasant break from city streets and are nice for a stroll through. They are open daily and are free to visit.
There’s also a playground at the side of the gardens to enjoy once you’ve finished exploring.
#5. Bordeaux Tram Rides
There are three tram lines in Bordeaux and a tram ride is a fun thing to do with the kids. You get to see the city, do some people watching and kids love any kind of new transport in my experience.
Buy tickets at automatic machines at tram stops. You can buy e.g. a card of ten journeys which covers the family – just make sure you “punch” it in the machine on board the tram for the amount of journeys you are using in case any inspectors come to check it.
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#6. Cap Sciences
Cap Sciences is a science and discovery museum located in an old warehouse on Quai de Bacalan, with permanent and temporary exhibitions. There are activities for different ages of children to encourage exploration and discovery. There is also a café on site.
Tip: Ask at reception if they have audio guides in English for the exhibitions.
#7. Jardin Public
The Jardin Public is a lovely spot right in the middle of Bordeaux. There are lakes where you can see ducks, as well as a well-maintained playground and carousel for the kids to enjoy. Bring a picnic and enjoy some relaxing time in the garden.
#8. Zoo Pessac
Zoo Pessac is located 30 minutes outside the city and hosts lions, tigers, lemurs, red pandas, tapirs, and giraffes.
You can get to the Zoo by taking bus 23 from the city centre and then walking 900m to the entrance, or you can drive and avail of the Zoo’s free parking. In addition, there are snack cafes, picnic areas, playgrounds, an inflatable play area and also a small farm where you can feed goats.
#9. Chateau de Brède
Located 25 minutes outside of Bordeaux, is the strikingly pretty Château de La Brède, – complete with a moat! – that was once the home of philosopher Montesquieu.
While you have to pay to access the grounds, it’s worth the fee for a pleasant walk up and a photo op at the castle.
You can also pay to go on a guided tour and see the interior of the castle, including the library and Montesquieu’s bedroom, both preserved as they were in the 18th century. There are ice creams for sale at the ticket reception.
Take the train for a day trip to the seaside resort of Arcachon, with sandy beaches galore, ice cream shops, cafes, and plenty of seaside fun!
It’s a five minute walk from the station to the centre of the town. We grabbed ingredients for a picnic from the supermarket on the main street of the town and enjoyed our lunch before taking a dip.
Tip: Allow yourself a little extra time to get back for the return train and be early for the train to get a seat, as it gets busy in summer time.
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Have you visited Bordeaux? What other things to do in Bordeaux did you enjoy as a family? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!