It’s beautiful weather in Bordeaux this week, the fledgling 2018 wines are tasting good, and we can all pretend for at least another week that Brexit isn’t happening; sounds like the perfect moment to celebrate what’s new around the city.
Here are some new places to drink wine and to stay, whether you are over for next week’s en primeur tastings, coming for Vinexpo in May or planning a trip to the Bordeaux wine festival in June.
New Bordeaux wine bars and venues
Where: 48 rue Albert Barraud
Local wine bars are always the best, we all know that. Bordeaux has a few nowadays, and my favourite will always be Cave de la Course on rue de la Course, although you have to be lucky to catch it open.
This one, L’Officine, opened in early March 2019, has a few good Alsace beers on tap and a small selection of wines. These are mainly from Bordeaux right now but I spotted a few well priced Champagnes and owner Romain Lassalle tells me they are awaiting a number of producers from the Rhône, Burgundy and northern Spain, among others. The collection of craft beers is also set to rise.
The music here is excellent and you’ll find classic French bar food, which means cheese, ham and paté.
From April it will be open all day from 8am, serving morning coffees. Word of warning – you could walk right past it if you don’t know it’s there, so discreet is the entrance.
Where: Quai du Paludate
The whole area around Quai du Paludate and the Gare St Jean train station is slowly but surely completing its facelift. This food hall has 14 different stands from local independent restaurants, serving everything from oysters to cocktails to gluten-free pizza.
It has a laid-back feeling with large communal tables. You buy a pre-payment card at the door rather than use cash. It gets massively busy, so try to be there by 12pm if you are going for lunch.
Where: 133 rue Jardin Public
Close to the city’s beautiful downtown park, the Jardin Public, this place has only been open for a month or so, and I’ve lost track of the number of people who have said to me, ‘have you eaten there yet?’
Opened by chef and owner Fabien Beaufour, the idea is to provide lots of tasting plates that go in the centre of the table for you to share- either by selecting individual dishes or going for the Chef’s Table and letting them decide for you.
Everything is seasonal, lots of it is local (from caviar d’Aquitaine to white Asparagus from Blaye), and the by-the-glass wine choice is small but excellent. If you only have one, then I’d suggest the Chinon ‘Les Granges’ 2017 from Domaine Baudry.
Thélonius is an excellent jazz bar on rue Bourbon, close to the Cité du Vin and Quai des Chartrons (thelonious-jazz-club-bordeaux.com) that has music most evenings.
If you are here this weekend (30 March), then Château Palmer’s 10 years of Hear Palmer Jazz promises to be brilliant, with a concert at the Château itself on Friday 29 March, the Rocher de Palmer on Saturday 30th and finally Cité du Vin Sunday 31st.
New Bordeaux hotels
Where: 65 rue Lucien Faure
Not the most exciting of hotels perhaps, but just opened and very well located near to the Cité du Vin. It has an excellent rooftop bar called The Wallace with a large terrace that has views over the Submarine Pens, the Cité du Vin and the boats moored up along the Bassins à Flot.
There’s even a nine-hole putting green for golfers, up one more level on the actual roof, with open putt nights (is that a thing?) every Thursday.
Where: Rue l’Abbée de l’Epée
If you like your hotels to be a little more boutique in feel, then Le Palais Gallien opened around the same time as the Radisson Blu and is housed in a gorgeous 18th century town house closer to the city centre.
Just 22 rooms, a cosy bar (apparently a rooftop cocktail bar is due to open here in the summer), and a gastronomic restaurant called Table de Montesqieu.
The hotel is just two minutes from the Roman Ampitheatre (and the L’Officine wine bar, in case you find the hotel bar just a little too small for now).
Where: Cours de la Marne
A boutique hotel from a small Paris-based group that is set to open in May 2019 and will be housed in a gorgeous historic building on Cours de la Marne.
Once a zoology institute, it will have a garden, restaurant, bar and spa, and I’m thinking decorated with tonnes of Deyrolle-style curiosity cabinet touches in honour of the building’s origins.
Arts and Culture
You never know, you might have some down time while you’re here, and want to do something cultural.
If so, the Muséum de Bordeaux, Sciences et Nature (otherwise known as the Museum of Natural History) is reopening in the Jardin Public after 10 years restoration work.
It’s one of the oldest museums in France, dating back to the 1700s and opening on this site first in 1862. The newly refurbished museum will have around 4,000 exhibits, both temporary and permanent collections, and an entirely new 500m2 underground gallery.
A few months later, in June 2019, the new MECA cultural space and art gallery will join it, on Quai du Paludate in the former abattoirs. You can already see the building, which is huge and starkly modern, and will house both the FRAC contemporary art space, a number of stages for theatre and music events, and an outside gallery space on an 880m2 terrace overlooking the Garonne river.
Jane Anson is currently tasting Bordeaux 2018 barrel samples for her en primeur report, which will be available in full next month on Decanter Premium.
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