Monday, 21 March 2016

Dining in style in downtown Bordeaux

Many visitors to Bordeaux spend most of their time exploring the vineyard regions; world-famous names like St Emilion, Pomerol and Pauillac. 

But the city of Bordeaux is also worthy of a couple of days of any gourmet's time - with an impressive collection of new eateries along with some old favourites. 



Always a city of culture, Bordeaux has undergone a renaissance over the past decade with Mayor Alain Juppe overseeing urban renewal on a grand scale and extending the city's tram network.

And while wines is king, gourmet cuisine is hot on its heels.

Star chef Joel Robuchon is overseeing the menu at La Grande Maison, Gordon Ramsay is at the Le Grand Hotel de Bordeaux at Le Pressoir d’Argent and local superstar Philippe Etchebest at le Cafe de l’Opera a Bordeaux.

La Grande Maison picked up two Michelin stars in the 2016 guide, while Ramsay collected one.

La Tupina (below), in a quiet city side street, serves rustic and full-flavoured dishes from the south-west of France in a cosy ambiance. It is my favourite. 


Le Chapon Fin, Le Gabriel and Brasserie l’Orleans are traditionally popular, along with L'Embarcadère for mouth-wateringly fresh fish, Garopapilles for modern cuisine and Dan for fusion food.

For a chance to sample some of the region’s wines without leaving the city, visit The Bar à Vin, which is located on the ground floor of the Maison du Vin de Bordeaux, the headquarters of the Bordeaux Wine Council, set in an 18th-century building in the centre of town.

The Musee du Vin, which highlights the history of wine in the region, is also well worth a look, while wine bars in Bordeaux like L'Univerre, La Ligne Rouge, Aux Quatre Coins du Vin or Wine More Time all offer tastings of both local labels, and (a recent innovation) imports from around the world.


Aux Quatre Coins du Vin has a range of about 40 wines available by the glass (tasting pour, half glass or full glass) via Oenomatic machines. There is something in everyone's price range and the bar snacks are outstanding.

For the most relaxed gourmet experience visit the Marché des Quais market on Sundays and enjoy fresh local dishes with wines and ciders.

Getting there

Etihad Airways and partner airline Virgin Australia offer daily one-stop flights from Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to 20 destinations in Europe, via Abu Dhabi, including flights to Bordeaux via Paris. For bookings visit www.etihad.com or call 1300 532 215.

FIVE THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND BORDEAUX

1. Take a lazy river cruise: Scenic offers 11-day Breathtaking Bordeaux river cruises on the Scenic Diamond starting from $7,295 including return flights to France and airport transfers. See www.scenic.com.au/tour/bordeaux-river-cruise/1909 or call 138 128.


2. The spectacular Dune Du Pilat, on the edge of the Arcachon Basin, 65 kilometres outside of the Bordeaux city centre, is the largest sand dune in Europe.

3. Visit the satellite wine regions of Bourg and Blaye, small towns 20 kilometres apart with several small bars, cafes and tasting facilities away from the crowds.

4. On the river bank next to the Place de la Bourse, the Mirroir d’Eau is the largest reflecting pool in the world. Reflecting both the sun and the historic buildings, it is a popular venue for a morning or afternoon stroll.

5. In the heart of Bordeaux, St Andrew's Cathedral dates back to the 12th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella.

# The author was assisted by Scenic and Etihad Airways.

# Some elements of this story appeared in a comprehensive feature on Bordeaux at www.Traveller.com.au.



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