Insider’s Guide to Visiting Bordeaux with Kids

kids standing in front of Bordeaux's Place de la Bourse fountain Kate Loweth
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Famous for its wine, Bordeaux, France might not immediately come to mind for its kid-friendly offerings. We’re here to say it is definitely somewhere you should take your kids when visiting France and we’ve got loads of things to do with kids in Bordeaux to get you started. You’ll find delicious eats, fountains to play in, and even an indoor surfing spot for those looking for an adrenaline rush. Our Bordeaux guide for families includes a fun hotel with huge rooms that is easily accessible via tram and an immersive art exhibit that will leave you awestruck.

Bonus: It is super easy to get to Bordeaux from the US via French bee’s train+air service that combines your train and air tickets. More on that below.

Best Things to Do in Bordeaux with Kids

1. Visit Cap Sciences to become a gladiator for a day.

Kate Loweth

Cap Sciences should be your first stop for any trip to Bordeaux with kids, especially if you want them to get active and learn a little about science at the same time. We enjoyed the Gladiateur exhibit where you got to join gladiator school and learn what it was like to train and work as one of these feared fighters. The kids (and adults) also enjoyed the body and sport exhibit where you got to be a professional athete and show off your skills in VR. We’d recommend Cap Sciences for kids five and up.

2. Dine on farm-to-table cuisine at Casa Gaïa.
To say this was one of the best meals we’ve ever had would not be an understatement. Highlighting products from the Gironde region, Casa Gaïa offered delicious food that was both simple and perfect. The kids in our group enjoyed the wood-fired pizza and colorful plates with falafel and roasted vegetables. Start the meal with one of their creative cocktails before you head to the comprehensive wine list.

3. Check out the immersive art at Les Bassins des Lumières.

Kate Loweth

There’s nothing quite like this immersive art experience that takes place inside a massive former submarine base that’s pretty impressive on its own. Featuring rotating digital art exhibits, the Les Bassins des Lumières is currently exhibiting Venise, La Sérénissime, where you can imagine yourself in the city of Venice with all of its architecture and religious art. Kids will love walking around and viewing the immersive art and imagining the days when submarines used to be built here. 

4. Tour the city via electric train.
When your little crew has done enough walking for the day, head to the tourist office where you can hop aboard the white electric train for a 45-minute tour of the city with commentary.

5. Go indoor surfing at Wave Surf Café.

Indoor surfing at Bordeaux Wave Surf Cafe
Kate Loweth

When the temps topped out at 110 degrees on our visit to Bordeaux, we had to get a little creative in the activity department. Enter the Wave Surf Café. Here you can book time for some “urban sliding,” a.k.a. boogie boarding and surfing with instruction. The teens and tweens in our group especially loved this activity. Those who wish to observe can enjoy the large seating area that includes a bar serving snacks, coffee, and alcoholic beverages.

6. Live out your food hall dreams at Les Halles de Bacalan.

Kate Loweth

Super close to the Cité du Vin, you’ll find this huge food hall that offers everything from cappuccinos to tapas to artisanal ice cream sandwiches. We snagged some spots at the counter and easily found something that everyone wanted to eat. If you walk through the whole property, you might even find the pinball machines that are the perfect kid distraction so you can enjoy your sangria at a slow pace.

7. Stroll the Jardin Public.
This lovely garden is a great spot to spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy some sandwiches in the sun. There’s even a small playground for the kiddies and a terrace with food/drinks for purchase. Walk a little farther and you’ll find number 8 below.

8. Learn about animals at Muséum Bordeaux Sciences et Nature.

kids exploring Museum Bordeaux Sciences et Nature

Everyone loved our visit to the Muséum Bordeaux Sciences et Nature, especially since its air conditioning was at full blast on a very hot day. There was an exhibit that was full of taxidermied animals and skeletons, and one that showed all the creatures that make their homes on the nearby Aquitane coast. Little ones will love the special exhibit that’s designed just for them—Tous les bébés.

9. Go on a food tour.
A great way to get to know a new city is on a food tour because you get a little bit of history, a little bit of geography, and lots of snacking in between. Our lively food tour with Do Eat Better started off with a three-course meal at a small bistro, and it was followed by wine tasting and stops to taste treats like canelés and dunes blanches—a cream puff that everyone loved.

10. Splash around in the Miroir d’Eau.

two women standing in Bordeaux's Miroir d'Eau
Kate Loweth

Summer evenings when the sun doesn’t go down until after 10 p.m. are made for visits to this water feature that’s right across from the Place de la Bourse. You’ll find kids and adults splashing in the water and enjoying the views of the Garonne River. Right down the street are a number of gelato shops (go for the apricot if they have it!).

11. Go thrift shopping.

thrift shopping in Bordeaux with kids
Kate Loweth

The teens in our crew are always looking for a bargain and Bordeaux did not disappoint. We found our favorite French thrift shop Free’p’Star there, along with a number of other small thrift shops. Most only take cash so come prepared.

12. Admire Gothic architecture at the Basilique Saint-Michel.
All you really have to do is look for the massive column that sticks out above the Bordeaux skyline to find this gothic beauty. Visitors are welcome inside to check out the stained glass windows and to marvel at how they could have built such an amazing building so long ago. On the weekends you’ll find a market on the plaza just outside.

Where to Stay in Bordeaux with Kids

Kate Loweth

We set up our Bordeaux home base in the Chartrons neighborhood at Appart’City Confort Bordeaux Chartrons. This property had huge rooms with plentiful air conditioning and mini kitchens that families will love (see our room tour here). They offer a substantial breakfast buffet, and free coffee and cappuccinos are available any time of day. Washers/dryers were just off the lobby and the staff was more than willing to assist us with any requests that we had.

The property’s location is about 20 minutes outside of downtown via the public transportation system and you’ll like being in more of a neighborhood with a grocery store nearby. There’s a salad shop in the same building as the hotel and a pizza stand across the street (both are kid-recommended). For a true French bistro experience, head to L’Attablée which is also right across the street. The service and the food there were both top-notch.

How to Travel to Bordeaux with Kids: The French bee Train+Air Experience.

two kids sitting on train in bordeaux
Kate Loweth

If you plan to fly into Paris and then make your way to Bordeaux, go for the French bee train+air experience. You are able to book both your air and train tickets together via the French bee website and you’ll get a lower rate on the train tickets in the process. Because your tickets are connected, you are covered in case of delay or cancelation of your air or train segments.

View of screens of French bee flight to Paris with kids
Kate Loweth

French bee is a low-cost airline that flies direct from SFO, LAX, and Newark (with Miami coming in December) to Paris Orly and we found the service to be friendly and accommodating to families. We especially loved being able to watch the plane’s external cameras during takeoff and landing. French bee lets you pay for only what you need with meals and checked baggage being add-on charges. And a mental note for when you’re feeling a little tropical: French bee also flies direct to Tahiti!

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