Elegant and discrete, Saint-Seurin and Fondaudège is a snapshot of bourgeois Bordeaux. Wealthy wine merchants and industrialists chose this quiet residential neighbourhood, south of Chartrons, to build sumptuous mansions in the 18th and 19th centuries and their legacy lingers in a bespoke scattering of lavish chateaux and hôtels particuliers. But scratch the surface and fascinating relics of Gallo-Roman civilisation and ancient Christian martyrdom emerge, not to mention one of the city's most burgeoning foodie scenes.
Exploring this mellow neighbourhood is more about lapping up its distinctive bourgeois airs and graces rather than serial sightseeing. This said, Saint-Seurin safeguards a couple of fascinating sights for ancient history enthusiasts. Begin on place Gambetta, perhaps grabbing un café gourmand (coffee and sweet treats) at Café Baillardran, before mooching north to Basilique St-Seurin with its crypt and necropolis. Continue the history theme with a stroll further north to Palais Gallien to admire the only remaining vestiges of Roman Bordeaux. Afterwards, indulge in a lazed gourmet lunch at your choice of fashionable eateries on rue du Palais Gallien or neighbouring rue Lafaurie de Monbadon: for a lighter lunch or quick coffee-shop bite try Le Monologue or Koeben.
An afternoon can easily be spent exploring the northern part of the neighbourhood: the Jardin Public, Natural History Museum and memorable Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez – a must for contemporary art lovers – are the main sights here.
- Basilique St-Seurin Delving into the city's most ancient heart in this Romanesque church's fascinating crypts and necropolis.
- Palais Gallien Travelling back in time to the Roman city of Burdigala with the evocative remains of this imposing amphitheatre.
- Café Baillardran Learning how to make Bordeaux's signature cake – syrupy sweet, sandcastle-shaped canelés – at a Saturday-morning cookery class on 18th-century place Gambetta.
- Château Labottière Savouring a sumptuous taste of chateau life and contemporary art during an exhibition at the Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez.
- La Grande Poste Catching stand-up comedy, theatre, a live gig or Sunday brunch in this art-deco post office-turned-happening cultural centre and lifestyle space.
Bordeaux's point zéro, from which all distances in France from the city, is measured right here in the 'hood on place Gambetta. Begin your neighbourhood explorations by finding your bearings on this central square – Casablanca is 1385km south, Riga 2174km northeast.