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Mar 10, 2014 04:24 PM

Hotels & Restaurants in Bordeaux

We are a party of 11 active adventurous 55 year old's (male & female) going for a long week-end in Bordeaux. We would welcome suggestions for good 4* Hotel in Bordeaux and also recommendations for some quality restaurants.

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  1. Excuse me, but this does not compute.

    "We are a party of 11 active adventurous 55 year old's (male & female) going for a long week-end in Bordeaux."

    1. Have a look at these previous threads:

      + Le Pavillon des Boulevards on the rue Croix Seguey near the Barrière du Médoc ... but maybe too staid/ upmarket for a gang of 55-yr old ravers.

      Chowhound is not the place for hotels and, without knowing if your budget is $700 or $100 a night, it would be impossible to help in any case.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Parnassien

        Hi Parnassien,

        Thank you for reply
        Le Pavillon des Boulevards is exactly the kind of restaurant we are looking for,

        PS, The over 50*s can be sophisticated when the occasion demands it as well.

      2. Well, if you're really adventurous, Bordeaux is probably the last city you should pick. Noted travel authority Rick Steves says Bordeaux must mean boredom in some ancient language. Having passed through once I heartily agree. I think I spent two hours there one day and that was two hours too much.

        If perchance you are going into the vineyards during the daytime, the Chateau Cordelian-Bages up in Pauillac could be right up your alley. That's a 4-star hotel with a 2-star restaurant attached.

        Otherwise may I suggest Biarritz ?

        22 Replies
        1. re: collioure

          "Well, if you're really adventurous, Bordeaux is probably the last city you should pick. Noted travel authority Rick Steves says Bordeaux must mean boredom in some ancient language."
          Wrong. Bordeaux and its riverfront have been transformed. It is one of several French cities and towns that have evolved for the better, others bieng Dijon, Rouen, Nice, Gaillac. Rick Steeves the guru of fast-travel in the style of fast-food is no reference.

          1. re: Parigi

            Even beyond the riverfront, Bordeaux has a collection of good restaurants (again, it has the highest restaurant ratio per capita in France), Bordelais people never stop eating out and celebrating, staying there and visiting the region is supremely enjoyable, the city has remarkably blossomed out during the last 10 years and has become one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Perhaps an update is needed.

          2. re: collioure

            Whoa! Bordeaux has become one of the most vibrant and enjoyable cities in France. I can only suppose that Collioure and Rick Steves based their judgments on experiences decades ago or were confined to the dreary industrial suburbs.

            1. re: Parnassien

              Actually I was there recently. And I doubt Steves has changed his opinion. His 22 Days in France does not include Bordeaux. Mine wouldn't either.

              What in the world does one do in the daytime there?

              Zero! And that goes for overrated cuisine bordelaise too.

              1. re: collioure

                "What in the world does one do in the daytime there?"

                A stroll by the Garonne, an oyster splurge near the Marché des Capucins, browsing through old junk at the Marché Saint-Michel, a splash in the Miroir d'eau facing one of the most amazing pieces of 18th-century architecture (place de la Bourse), taking a tram to Pessac to see the Haut-Brion vineyard, visiting the Graves, visiting the Sauternais, visiting the Médoc, visiting the Saint-Emilion/Pomerol region and the underrated Côtes on the right bank of the Gironde, spending some time at the Musée d'art contemporain, admiring one of the largest ensembles of well-preserved Baroque era architecture in the historic center, sitting on the grass and watching the water birds at the Jardin Public, shopping for books at Mollat (one of the largest bookstores in France), taking the little Médoc train to Soulac for a dip in the ocean or a mushroom hunt in the forêt des Landes, eating, drinking some of the best wines on Earth, and then some...

                I don't know, what do you expect from a city?

                1. re: collioure

                  "What in the world does one do in the daytime there?
                  A great city is much more than a sight-seeing checklist. The best part of Paris, or Rome, or Bordeaux, is not the sights. It is their hang-out quality. But one needs to have a traveler's attitude, not a tourist attitude. Rick Steves is a tour guide writing for tourists who want to "do" Provence, "do" the Cinqueterre, "do" the Marais, "do" the Sistine under a given duration of time. Of course "doing" tourists do not get the fabulous charm and vibrant hipness of Bordeaux. Just as when they "do" Montmartre, they will pose at Place du Tertre and get back on their tour bus, missing Abbesses that is just a couple of blocks away. And they think they have "done", and dismissed, Montmartre.
                  This "do"-a-place (shuddering every time I write the word) attitude is the first and foremost reason I despise, - and, proudly, have never joined, - a tour in my life, no offense.
                  Any city that is worth its salt has much more to offer than the kind of changing-backdrop sights for tourist photo-posing.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    I don't have much to add to this discussion, as I've never been, but Bordeaux has been hovering near the top of our To Visit list for the past few years. I've gathered a ton of information just from this thread alone! Merci for everyone's very nice snapshot of Bordeaux.

                    1. re: DistendedBelly

                      You wil have a grand time. Once I was "stuck" in Bordeaux for 5 hours because of a train strike. It was the first and last time I was grateful for a train strike. A delight from A to Z.

                      1. re: DistendedBelly

                        As a very experienced traveler in France who would tell you to forget it, I didn't realize my snapshot was so positive.

                      2. re: Parigi

                        "What in the world does one do in the daytime there?
                        A great city is much more than a sight-seeing checklist.
                        As with Parigi, Pti and others, I agree. Bordeaux is a great place. We've written about it a lot here.
                        Enjoy it.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Totally agree - many great cities don't have endless sights and museums to see. Great cities have a vibe about them, and the cafés, bars, restaurants that let you sink into the culture of the place and simply watch the world go by - think of San Francisco and Sydney as similar examples.

                          Bordeaux is now on my list after this post - it's a city we missed, generally skirting around it on the way to somewhere else.

                        2. re: collioure

                          Strange how Steves dismisses Bordeaux while his British competitor, Time Out, includes Bordeaux as one of the ten "perfect places to stay, eat and explore" in France.

                          Strange how your two hours passing through Bordeaux gave you a totally different impression than my 5,000 hours in and around Bordeaux where I have family ties.

                          Strange how anyone can wonder what to do in a city layered with 2400 years of history and offering a dozen museums, scores of historic churches, one of the grandest theatres in Europe, outdoor food markets, covered markets, flea markets, lunchtime/ afternoon concerts, segway tours, bike tours, jogging along the river, historic neighbourhoods begging to be explored, long strolls on the rue Sainte-Catherine shopping street, botanical gardens, antique hunting, wine culture, people-watching in grand public spaces, and a thousand restaurants

                          And how did you come to the conclusion, in your 2 hours, that the local cuisine is overrated ? Michelin, Gault & Millau, LeFooding and every other restaurant guide/blog I know seem to confirm that Bordeaux now has an unusually high concentration of star-able, toque-able, or noteworthy restos for its size.

                      3. re: collioure

                        Two hours and you have an opinion on Bordeaux?
                        (Cordeillan-Bages, heaven help me...)
                        I suppose this should be taken at the same value as "nobody goes to the Massif Central".

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          Yes, eating and drinking and visitng the vineyards (which are NOT in the city). So, it's a place where you hang out.

                          A flat city with relatively few tall buildings (I forget exactly why). Art, architecture of note, cathedrals, museums, history in the city itself? Michelin notes three 2-star attractions there. Are they wrong too?

                          The region is something else, but the city is boring.

                          When was the last time a three-star chef decided to set up there?

                          BTW I've looked at the recipes. Somehow I prefer to prepare homard au pineau from Charentes, piperade from the pays basque, poulet aux morilles et au vin jaune from the Jura, fideua from Catalonia . . .

                          Lamproie à la bordelaise anyone? I'd rather eat anguille au vert.

                          1. re: collioure

                            Re your Michelin and other guidebook dependence, please see Parigi's post above.

                            Re 3-star chefs, isn't Robuchon setting up shop there soon ? There's already been a steady stream of very good younger chefs from Paris to Bordeaux (i.e. Restaurant Miles).

                            1. re: collioure

                              If "tall buildings" are what it takes for a city to be exciting, so yes indeed, Bordeaux is beautifully, dramatically, and excitingly, boring.

                              There's far more to its food and drink than lamproie à la bordelaise (which can be quite delicious), but after all your experience is only worth two hours, and you keep considering Michelin a significant marker, so we can't ask too much from you.

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                Before I moved here, I had been in France annually since the late 70's. I do my homework beforehand which is why I didn't at least try to appreciate its best features until recently when I had a day to stop by on my way to Charentes. I had seen the vineyards of Médoc long ago. I can assure you that if Bordeaux had interesting dishes, I would have spent at least a few days there long ago.

                                I'm sure it's a nice place to live. I wouldn't want to visit again.

                                BTW we're going to Gent, Bruges, Anvers and Lille in May. Now that's exciting, esp if you like step gables (I do).

                              2. re: collioure

                                Just to be clear on the Michelin reference. The three 2 star attractions are the Green guide ratings for sites NOT restaurants (plus they have a further ten 1 star sites). And interesting Bordeaux get 3 stars as city which is the top designation and is recommended as a Unesco World Heritage site. So not bad.

                                Now the red guide for restaurants has 4 one Stars, plus 5 bibs, in the city centre (one of which Le Pavillon des Boulevards has been recommended up-thread), and another 3 just outside. Then Le Fooding has 17 recommendations in the city. Seems like a few decent alternatives to give options to try on a visit.

                                And why the question on the three star chefs, apart from Paris, how many big cities have three stars? Most three stars, especially in France, are in the countryside or small towns.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  I looked at those 2-star sites.

                                  As for restuarants I would certainly be enticed by the Pavillon des Boulevards today, but I posed the question as to why no great chef has set up shop there for as long as I can remember. If this city were really an attraction and offered a steady stream of tourists as well as a sizable resident population, surely some very talented chef would have established himself there. The list of cities that have or recently have had such destination restaurants is lengthy, and it does not include Bordeaux. It does include Strasbourg, Lyon, Montpellier, Tours, Annecy, Valence, Lorient, Roanne, and Toulouse.

                                  1. re: collioure

                                    Nicolas Magie at Le Saint-James, 2 stars. Christophe Girardot and Stéphane Carrade in le Cap Ferret (please don't tell me it isn't Bordeaux, it is fully Bordeaux in its own right, just like the vineyard region - that's how the local culture functions but of course you can't grasp that when you just "do" a place). Venerable Claude Darroze in Langon and the absolute-must-try Jean-Paul Barbier in Arcins. Xiradakis at La Tupina (I know, not everyone agrees, but should be mentioned), Yves Mattagne and Pascal Nibaudeau at Le Régent (Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux). Etc. Please don't insult those chefs by asking how many stars they have. If your definition of a "very talented chef" is conditioned by the number of stars, you're totally missing the point not only of Bordeaux but of the entire French territory as well.

                                    To provide a more precise example, Barbier's restaurant is a place where many three-star French chefs come to from all parts of France when they want to celebrate. They keep quiet about it because it's a quiet, dignified place that shuns publicity. The place has no star. If you only rely on the aforementioned criteria, you're bound to miss it, and many other gems in the bargain. Steves sure enough missed it.

                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                      I follow Gault-Millau in food. I've been watching the Saint James yoyo up and down for years. It has one-star in Michelin today and it is accessble from Bordeaux ville.

                                      (At the same time I spotted Michel Bras at the same time and I eventually got there for two nights and it was very memorable.) BTW personally I prefer restaurants that earn 15-16-17 in the Gault-Millau.

                                      Cap Ferret might be Bordeaux for the bordelais, but it's not for a visitors to the city.

                                      Once again there's no destination restaurant in Bordeaux and there hasn't been for as long as I can remember.

                                      1. re: collioure

                                        "I've been watching the Saint James yoyo up and down for years."
                                        But you've gotta admit, the waitfolks tramping back and forth in a railway car room is very special.

                          2. Grand Hotel du Bordeaux- Excellent restaurant,I believe a 1 star, is on premises.

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