The main sights in this ethnically diverse part of Bordeaux are essentially clustered around four landmark squares. Get your bearings and a coffee for the road on student-busy place de la Victoire, then stroll five minutes east to market-square place des Capucins: the covered market here is only open in the morning so arrive early to ensure the pick of produce. From here, you can choose to stroll north to the eye-catching Basilique St-Michel on busy place Reynard (invariably buzzing with an open-air flea market) or east to the largely unsung Romanesque gem of Église Ste-Croix. The latter is Bordeaux's oldest church and is flanked, to boot, by a supremely serene and peaceful square laced with a couple of cafes and the fascinating L’Atelier de Lutherie of master luthier Simon Bour.
Shopping in this neighbourhood is largely about antique and brocante (secondhand) in Saint-Michel: a couple of covered antique malls and weekly markets on and around adjoining squares, place Reynard and place Canteloup proffer ample browsing.
Night owls will want to explore the riverside quays south of Sainte-Croix, around Bordeaux's central train station, Gare St-Jean. Large mainstream nightclubs like La Plage have enlivened quai de la Paludate for the last couple of decades and the current development of the shiny millennial Euratlantique business district promises plenty more cutting-edge zest and sparkle.