Three Days in Bordeaux: Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary

 
Three Days in Bordeaux: Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary

Visiting Bordeaux for the France Rugby World Cup 2023? This host city is not only home to Stade Atlantique Bordeaux, where five of the pool matches will be held; it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage City and the gateway to France’s largest wine region. Plan a day before and after match day to discover Bordeaux and follow our insider tips to take in all the highlights.  

Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary: Bordeaux

Day 1: Introducing Bordeaux

Bordeaux’s grand plazas and elegant architecture make a dramatic backdrop for a walking tour, and the best way to take in the sights is on foot. Start out at Place de la Bourse, where the grand Palais de la Bourse and the shimmering Miroir d’Eau—a gigantic 2cm-deep ‘mirror’ of water—are two of the city’s most photographed sights. 

Stroll south along Quai Richelieu to reach another one of Bordeaux’s UNESCO-listed monuments, Port Cailhau, which once served as a gateway to the medieval city. The ‘Grosse Cloche’ (‘Big Bell’) and Saint-André Cathedral both make easy detours from Rue Sainte Catherine, Bordeaux’s principal shopping street, which will lead you all the way up to the Grand Theatre and the Golden Triangle. 

Boutiques and boulangaries (bakeries) line the streets of the Golden Triangle, where you can pick up a bag of rum-flavoured cannelés, a Bordeaux speciality, then continue to Place des Quinonces (fun fact: this is France’s largest city square) to enjoy them at a terrace café. 

Boat cruises along the Garonne River depart just north of the square—opt for a dinner cruise and you can dine on board as you glide past the illuminated city. Look out for the landmark Stone Bridge (Pont du Pierre), the spires of St Michael’s Basilica, and the futuristic façade of the Cité du Vin along the way.

Day 2: Match Day Celebrations

Bordeaux is France’s wine capital, so what better way to kick off match-day than a visit to the Cité du Vin? Rest assured, this is no ordinary wine museum. Instead, it’s a multi-sensory experience where you can dive into winemaking history, browse interactive exhibitions, and (of course) taste a variety of Bordeaux wines. Leave yourself a couple of hours to explore, and end your visit at the belvedere bar, where views span the entire city. 

If you still have time to kill pre-match, take a stroll through the surrounding Bassins à Flot docklands, where the waterfront restaurants and bistros make an ideal spot for lunch. Stop by the Base Sous-Marine, a WWII submarine base that now hosts digital art exhibitions, or watch the unique Chaban Delmas lift bridge in action. From here, it’s a short walk or tram ride to Brandenburg station, where navettes (shuttle buses) leave for the stadium.

The Bassins à Flot is an equally good spot for post-match celebrations, and some of Bordeaux’s most popular nightclubs dot the waterfront. Alternatively, wine bars, cocktail bars, and restaurants cluster around the Saint-Pierre district in the heart of the Old Town.

Day 3: Chartrons to Saint-Émilion

Sunday is market day along the Quai des Chartrons, and a stroll around the waterfront stalls is the perfect way to shake off a post-match hangover. Come hungry as this is one of the best spots to sample regional delicacies, from truffles and Aquitaine caviar to Pyrenees cheeses. For the complete Bordelaise experience, join locals at one of the riverside restaurants for a platter of fresh Arcachon oysters paired with a glass of white Bordeaux. 

In the afternoon, leave the city for the medieval town of Saint-Émilion, the epicentre of Bordeaux’s most famous wine region. Less than an hour from Bordeaux, the small town is easily explored on a day or half-day trip, starting with a wine tasting at one of the region’s Grand Cru châteaux.

Wear comfy shoes to explore the steep cobbled lanes of Saint-Émilion, where highlights include the 12th-century Monolithic church with its medieval catacombs and the King’s Tower (Tour de Roy), which affords magnificent views over the surrounding vineyards. Stick around after sunset, as this town is equally famed for its restaurants, two of which have Michelin stars (advance reservations are a must). 

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