Advance Planning

Three months before Book accommodation, tickets for ballet or opera at Bordeaux's Grand Théâtre, and a table at gastronomic Michelin-starred restaurants if so desired.

Three weeks before In high season, book guided visits and tours organised by the tourist office, particularly wine-tasting workshops and vineyard capers.

Three days before Reserve tables for weekend dinners and meals at Bordeaux's most sought-out dining addresses.

Resources

Bordeaux Wine Trip (www.bordeauxwinetrip.com) The ultimate planning tool for wine tourism in and around Bordeaux.

Vins de Bordeaux (www.bordeaux.com) Encyclopaedic resource on tasting, choosing and pairing Bordeaux wine; inspired Wine Tunes playlist too.

Bordeaux Tourism & Conventions (www.bordeaux-tourism.co.uk) Tourist office website.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Top Tips

  • In high season reserve your slot on the fabulous guided tours organised by the tourist office at least a couple of weeks in advance.
  • Consider buying a Bordeaux Métropole City Pass (www.bordeauxcitypass.com; 24/48/72 hours €29/39/46) online before arrival. The pass covers admission to major museums as well as a free guided tour and unlimited use of public transport.
  • Check monument openings times carefully; some such as Saint-Paul's Grosse Cloche and the bell tower of Basilique St-Michel are seasonal.
  • Buses, trams and boats make getting from A to B easy, but to really lap up the local vibe walk – the city is small enough. Alternatively, consider a bicycle.

What to Take

  • Travel plug (electrical adapter) for France's two-pin plugs
  • Sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses
  • Pocket knife with corkscrew – most Bordeaux wines have corks (make sure to pack this in your checked-in luggage)
  • Walking shoes – for cobbled streets and the pedestrian old town
  • Light scarf or sarong – to cover bare shoulders in churches
  • An adventurous appetite (a Bordeaux culinary necessity)

What to Wear

To avoid standing out from the urban crowd, smart-casual is the way to go. Dress up rather than down in nicer midrange restaurants, clubs and bars – no jeans and sneakers (though black or 'smarter' jeans will probably be OK).

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Check passport validity and visa requirements
  • Arrange travel insurance
  • Check airline baggage restrictions
  • Book accommodation; reserve big-name restaurants