Every city has a story that goes undiscovered by most travelers – mysteries that can only be revealed by the locals. AllTheRooms is sitting down with those locals to show you the enchanting places that exist beyond your guide book.
We interviewed Bordeaux resident, Jennifer Dombrowski, to learn more about what she believes makes the city so special.
Where are you from?
I’m an American living in Bordeaux, France. I’m so glad I call Bordeaux home.
What are the people like in Bordeaux?
I’ve been living in Europe for eight years now. I have to say that I’ve been blown away by the friendliness and welcoming nature of the Bordelaise. This city has become a melting pot of Bordelaise born and raised here, French people from other parts of the country that have moved here, and people from many nationalities that have moved to Bordeaux. Everyone is welcome here!
What makes Bordeaux special?
Bordeaux reminds me of Paris, but on a much smaller scale. It’s a beautiful city full of jaw-dropping architecture, but it has a village feel. Visitors won’t likely know this village feeling, but I love that I have come to know the various shopkeepers and residents that greet me as I pass by on my daily walks with my dog. I hope it never loses that vibe as tourism continues to grow.
(Read: Locals Guide to Rome)
What’s a must-do activity in Bordeaux?
You have to go to La Cité du Vin. It opened just over one year ago. It’s an interactive experience through the world of wine. The bonus is that the visit ends with a glass of wine on the top floor, where you can enjoy it with a gorgeous panoramic view over the city.
What are your favorite things to do in Bordeaux?
My favorite things to do are: eat, walk around the city and attend to all the various festivals and events. Bordeaux was just named the best city for restaurants in France, with Paris coming in second and Lyon as third. There are so many good restaurants to try and I visit a few new ones each month. Bordeaux is also still under a transformation. All the years of industry quite literally left a film of grime on the city, earning it the nickname Sleeping Beauty. There has been a project to clean the buildings over the last few years and I especially love walks around sunset when the honey gold stone is bathed in the most beautiful light. There is also almost always something going on in Bordeaux, which I love. There are so many free forms of entertainment. You’d be hard-pressed not to find something to tickle your fancy in this city.
What are useful sites/apps to find information about Bordeaux?
My site, Luxe Adventure Traveler, of course! I’ve been working on a comprehensive guide and it will be an ongoing project as I also discover new things to do and places to eat. Bordeaux Tourism is also a great resource. You can find a lot of information on their website, but you can also stop into the tourist office to book various tours, buy tourist passes and get information.
What is something you really want people to know about Bordeaux?
Bordeaux has always been synonymous with wine. In fact, many people don’t even know Bordeaux is a city. Many people had the impression I lived out in wine country. Bordeaux is about a lot more than wine these days, and it’s a great place to visit even if you aren’t into wine travel. The city has many museums, festivals and is the gateway to a variety of attractions from Europe’s largest sand dune to the Pyrenees.
What’s a good day-trip that a visitor could take outside Bordeaux?
There are quite a lot of options, actually! I have two favorites though.
At the very least, take a day trip to Dune du Pilat. It’s Europe’s largest sand dune and has also been named one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. It’s an incredible natural wonder that really must be seen.
Saint-Émilion is another place that is just 30 minutes by train from Bordeaux center. You can definitely spend a few days there, but if you want to use Bordeaux as your base at least take a day trip. This medieval village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the largest Monolithic church in Europe. You can explore the underground church, climb the bell tower by asking for a key from the tourism office, sip Crémant in a cloister that produces it right in the village and visit one of the nearly 1000 Saint-Émilion châteaux by bicycle or tuk-tuk.
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Want to know more about Jennifer and her life? Check out her site.