Exploring La Bastide
Across the river, in downtown Bordeaux, the Rive Droite (Right Bank) was something of a wasteland until 1822 when it was finally linked to Rive Gauche (Left Bank) by Pont de Pierre. All too soon, the neighbourhood known as La Bastide buzzed with life and urban activity.
Joining the Blue Lion
Cross the River Garonne over Pont de Pierre (1822), the city's emblematic bridge with 17 stone arches, one supposedly for each letter in the name of Napoléon Bonaparte who ordered the bridge's construction in 1810. Lap up the sweep in river views and join Le Lion Bleu (2005) – a gargantuan blue lion by Lyonnais artist Xavier Veilhan – on place de Stalingrad.
Église Ste-Marie de la Bastide
Every self-respecting quartier needs its own church, hence this elegant neo-medieval one from 1884. Upon first glance at its bulbous stone dome crowned by an elegant lantern on balusters, don't be surprised if Paris' Basilica de Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre comes to mind: the same architect, Paul Abadie (1812–84), designed both.
Le Bistrot du Caillou
Grab un café on the summertime terrace of this local hangout, named after the curvaceous Teletubbies-styled concrete bunker resembling an oversized caillou (pebble) in which it squats. At dusk it morphs into an aperitif hot spot and venue for live jazz and blues.
Indulge in a green meander through the city's peaceful Jardin Botanique de la Bastide, botanical gardens created in 2003 with a water garden showcasing stunning lilies, a vertical garden planted with vines and other climbers, Mediterranean greenhouses and a communal garden.
Lunch with Bordelais hipsters in France's largest organic restaurant with a terrace so large it sports several sofas, a ping-pong table and table football. Inside, vintage curiosities mix with 1950s formica tables, an organic épicierie (grocery), kids' play tent, artisan beer brewery and coffee roaster L'Alchimiste. Kick back over a locally brewed Darwin beer and lap up the cool vibe.
Post lunch, explore Darwin, a military barracks abandoned in 2005 and since transformed into a pioneering, green creative hub. Magasin Général occupies one hangar, and neighbouring hangars – a riot of urban street art – host a flea market, recycling stations, bike-repair workshop, urban farm, and skate park packed with local riders at weekends.
Riverside Drinking & Dancing
Hit the riverbanks where springtime ushers in after-dark dancing and drinking beneath twinkling fairy lights at La Guinguette Chez Alriq. Live-music concerts kick off at 9.30pm Wednesday to Saturday, and the bar serves homemade punch and artisan beer brewed at Bordeaux's Brasserie de la Lune. Santé!
- Hipsters dining and drinking
- Street art
Rive Droite is a 10-minute walk from place de Bir Hakeim on the Left Bank.
Tram Line A eastbound from Hôtel Ville to Stalingrad or Jardin Botanique.
Boat B³ boat from Les Hangars to Stalingrad.