The best places to drink in Bordeaux, from wine bars to craft beer pubs

More insider guides for planning a trip to Bordeaux

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Bordeaux’s bar scene has developed a variety, liveliness and funky sophistication unbelievable to anyone who knew the city around 20 years ago. There are three key zones. Most good evenings start off amid the winding streets and many possibilities of the medieval St Pierre district. Many also end there. Then again, serious fans of nightlife might continue south of the centre to the Quai de Paludate. Liberal local licensing laws tailored to the needs of workers at the wholesale meat market there have made this an ideal spot for the later sort of bars and neon clubs. There’s now a sub-Vegas strip of them. More recently, the old, abandoned Wet Docks (Bassins à flot) to the north of the centre have also been colonised by folk offering most entertainment you might need through till dawn.

St Pierre

Café La Comtesse

Among the many bars in the St Pierre district, the pint-sized Comtesse stands out for having dressed the cocktail hour in Baroque garb: chandeliers, sofas, gold-framed pictures. In truth, the whole looks as if it’s been brought in from several different antique shops, which works well with the soft-jazz ambiance and what some claim to be the best mojitos in town. In any event, you can’t miss the street corner location – there’s a handful of tables on a tiny terrace and, on the façade, an arrangement of artificial flowers and old photo portraits. This is not, in short, your average bar, but it is small, so be ready for a squeeze.

Contact: 00 33 5 56 51 03 07;
Opening times: Daily, 5.45pm-2am
Prices: £

Café La Comtesse

You shouldn’t miss the street-side ambiance Café La Comtesse’s outdoor terrace

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Le Petit Bois

Romantic, magic or kitsch? It depends on your attitude to indoor oak trees, hanging lanterns and other off-the-wall elements. It’s certainly a nice, cosy spot for a glass of wine – and perhaps a bite from the menu. This runs from cheese ‘n’ charcuterie nibbles through to salads and simple dishes such as smoked duck magret. The place takes a bit of seeking out – down a tiny street just back from the riverfront – but that helps work up a thirst and an appetite. The wine selection is eclectic; though – obviously – majoring on Bordeaux, there are options from elsewhere in France and, indeed, elsewhere in the world.

Contact: 00 33 5 56 79 06 46;
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 7pm-2am
Prices: £

Le Petit Bois Bordeaux

The eclectic décor at Le Petit Bois may not be to everybody’s taste, but it’s definitely worth seeking out

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Le Wine Bar

Interestingly for Bordeaux, Le Wine Bar is run by Italians. This means that, alongside local vintages, there’s a fine selection of wider European and, indeed, world wines (notably Italian). There are some 340 wines in all, including – and this may be a first for Bordeaux –some Uruguayan and Croatian labels. Mix in some pretty fine Italian charcuterie and cheeses alongside the south-west French specialities and you have a lively spot for a drink and a snack, which might easily extend to a full meal. And you are attended upon by the most engaging and enthusiastic hosts. The place is popular, but small – so do think of booking ahead.

Contact: 00 33 6 76 00 50 54;
Opening times: Mon-Thu, 7pm-12pm; Fri-Sun, 6.30pm-12am
Prices: £

Le Wine Bar Bordeaux

There are some 340 wines in all, including Uruguayan and Croatian vintages at Le Wine Bar

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Wine Gallery

Not so much a bar as a chance to taste some of Bordeaux’s finest, most expensive wines – without having to shell out for a full bottle. Bang in the Golden Triangle, the surroundings are contemporary chic. Forty-eight of the grandest cru wines are available from state-of-the-art dispensers around the room. These machines are activated by cards you buy for €25, €50, €75 or €100. The cards are valid for a year, so you don’t have to spend it all in one visit – though you could, with Lafite Rothschild 2004 at €35 (£30) a 25ml glass-full. But reason is possible: 25ml doses start at €1 (85p). Then again, 25mls is a rather sad amount of wine at the bottom of a glass. The place also offers a variety of good-value wine-tasting courses.

Contact: 00 33 5 57 29 23 81;
Prices: ££
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 11am-8pm

Wine Gallery Bordeaux

Forty-eight of the grandest cru wines are available from state-of-the-art dispensers around the room at Wine Gallery

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Aux 4 Coins du Vin

This innovative and convivial wine bar is set bang in Bordeaux’s old centre. It has some 40 wines that are available by the glass from self-service dispensers, plus 450 other vintages that are available by the bottle. Plates of charcuterie, cheese and similar work well as accompaniments, from €8 (£7) for a small cold meat platter. The spot is popular with the locals, notably with young French professionals who are taking to convivial wine drinking as their parents took to Scotch. Think of booking ahead for a table, especially on weekend nights.

Contact:00 33 5 57 34 37 29;
Prices: £
Opening times: Mon-Tues, 6pm-12am; Wed-Sat, 6pm-2am

Aux 4 Coins du Vin Bordeaux

Plates of charcuterie, cheese and similar work well as accompaniments at the Aux 4 Coins du Vin


A craft beer bar in Bordeaux? Certainly, and friendlier than many of the city’s ubiquitous wine bars. It’s the brainchild of two young fellows, Benjamin Cini and Cedric Maté – not yet 30, either of them – who have gathered together 385 types of craft beer under one roof. They serve them with interest and enthusiasm, but none of the fundamentalism which blights the lives of so many beer fanatics. The space is bright and breezy, with lots of light wood, bottles and horticulture. Sharing plates of cheese and cold cuts may be had and though most customers are young, there’s a great welcome for the not-so-young, too.

Contact: 00 33 557 83 77 03;
Opening times: Tues-Thurs, 4pm-11.30pm; Frid-Sat, 3pm-11.30pm
Prices: ££

Jaqen Bordeaux

The owners of Jaqen have gathered together 385 craft beers serving them with interest and entusiasm

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Rooftop Bar, Mama Shelter

When the weather is warm enough, the rooftop bar of the Mama Shelter hotel is a prime spot to drink in the splendid city vistas. Here is a breeding ground for millennial merriment – with drinks, of course, but also sharing plates, a king-sized table football, and plenty of music. The views across the rooftops are to Bordeaux Cathedral – and your meal or snack is courtesy of a menu devised by Guy Savoy, perhaps the most convivial of France’s three-star chefs. This is certainly the funkiest rooftop bar in town and open to all.

Contact: 00 33 557 30 45 45;
Opening times: Daily, in good weather 12-2.30; 7pm-9pm – for food
Prices: ££

Rooftop Bar, Mama Shelter Bordeaux

Head to the top of the Mama Shelter hotel for the funkiest rooftop bar in town


The Cambridge Arms

There comes a time, even in Bordeaux, when you may just fancy a proper beer and something on your plate that brings back memories of home. That’s when you stroll to the Chartrons district and, more particularly, The Cambridge. Though competition is surprisingly strong, this is the best British pub in town. It boasts lots of wood and reassuring pub clutter, a decent selection of UK beers and a menu of fish and chips and beef and beer pie (both around €9/£8). And it’s not merely a hang-out for ex-pats. Plenty of locals assemble here, too.

Address: 27 Rue Rode
Contact: 00 33 5 56 5119 22
Opening times: Daily, 10am-2am
Prices: £

The Cambridge Arms

Despite the surprisingly strong competition, the Cambridge Arms stands out as the best British pub in Bordeaux

Bassins à flot

La Dame

This former petrol barge-turned-nightlife hotspot can be found to the north of the centre, just beyond the Cité du Vine wine museum in the old Wet Docks district. It has recently been overhauled, and is now a stripped-back mixture of white and wood (rather than the black and red hues of its former incarnation, when it was called “La Dame de Shanghai”). The food has gone up a grade, too, with tapas from €7 (£6), salads from €15 (£13) and mains and burgers from €21 (£18). The below-decks disco is among the funkiest spots in town, especially for the slightly older, over-30s groovers.

Contact: 00 33 5 57 10 20 50;
Opening times: Mon, 12pm-2.30pm; Tue-Wed, 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-2.30am; 
Prices: ££

La Dame Bordeaux

Once a petrol barge, now La Dame is vibrant nightlife spot moored in the up-and-coming Wet Docks district

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