Bordeaux resident Jane Anson picks out the best places to go in the city, by the river and in the vineyards.
Bordeaux travel: The river
The year-round river taxis are just the start of it. The Garonne is undergoing a serious period of revitalisation, with events such as the biennial Bordeaux Fête Le Fleuve river festival (held in May 2015, then again in 2017) that also marks the departure point for the prestigious Solitare du Figaro solo endurance yacht race. This is increasingly a destination for boat trips large and small. Bordeaux received 39 cruise ships in 2013, 43 in 2014 and is expecting more than 50 in 2015.
Smaller local river boats that head out to explore the vineyards of Sauternes, the Médoc and St-Emilion are operated by Viking Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.com) and Uniworld (www.uniworld.com)– with most trips including châteaux visits and on-board wine tastings. Even large ships are able to dock downtown, thanks to the new 433-metre Chaban-Delmas drawbridge and its 117m vertical lift.
And if you prefer to stay downtown, you can even swim from one side of the river to the other in La Traversée de Bordeaux. This annual event is held in early summer, and is harder than it sounds, as currents are strong along the tidal Garonne river – but boats follow you to ensure safety while in pursuit of the Trophée du Port de la Lune.