Bordeaux may be best known as a wine capital of France, but the city's not just for oenophiles — it's a perfect destination for families, too. With its compact size, storybook architecture, plentiful parks, and affordable price tag (compared to French favorites like Paris and Provence), Bordeaux is a solid choice for families who want a grown-up getaway with kid-friendly amenities.
Getting to Bordeaux
Bordeaux is situated in the southwest corner of France along the Garonne river. It's served by Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, which is about 12 kilometers outside of the city. You can get into town using the Bordeaux airport shuttle, which takes about 30 minutes and costs 7-8 euros per person. Or grab a taxi or Uber, which will run about 30-40 euros. (Be sure to ask if they take credit cards if you don't have cash.)
Navigating Bordeaux with Kids
If you stay in or close to the city center (which is recommended), you should have no trouble getting around by foot. There's also an efficient and cheap tram system that runs throughout the city. For something different that your kids will love, take a one-hour tour of the city in an open-air mini train, or hop on a tuk-tuk for a faster-paced experience.
Family-Friendly Activities in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is filled with bustling pedestrian shopping streets and vibrant squares ringed with a diversity of restaurants — and plenty of patio seating. It's an ideal setup for kids who want to stretch their legs while parents absorb the atmosphere (and sample the region's famous wine). Wander historic neighborhoods like Saint-Pierre and Grands Hommes to discover charming shops, stunning cathedrals, and sites like Gross Cloche (above), which will make you wonder how you ended up as an extra in Beauty and the Beast. Want some specifics on your itinerary? Here are three of our favorites:
- Place de la Bourse et Miroir d'Eau — One of Bordeaux's most iconic sites, the highlight of this elegant square is the riverfront reflecting pool. With just two centimeters of water, the Miroir d'Eau invites frolicking by children and adults alike, and creates a breathtaking reflection of the Place de la Bourse. As if that weren't enough, the water periodically drains into the ground and is replaced by mist, which creates a magical effect. Bring your camera and a change of clothes for the kids.
- Jardin Public — Created in 1746, Bordeaux's public garden is an 11-acre oasis in the heart of the city. Children will love the antique carousel surrounded by lavender, the massive pirate ship playground, the Guignol Guérin puppet show, and the quiet pond teeming with ducks and koi fish. Parents will love the elegant cafe overlooking the grounds, the winding paths framed by centuries-old trees, and the Botanical Garden.
- Darwin — Get a taste of the new Bordeaux at this riverside development focused on social entrepreneurship, citizen activism, and ecological transition. Set in a refurbished military barracks, this is where you'll find a skate park, an urban farm, trendy restaurants and shops, and innovative art.
All images, except the featured, are courtesy of Bordeaux Tourism & Conventions.