Love the idea of visiting France? More ideas of where to visit with kids here.
Famous for its wine and vineyards, you could be forgiven for thinking this area of France is more for romantic getaways. Would you really want to visit this part of France with the kids? Well, the answer is definitely yes! Bordeaux is a beautiful city and there are interesting sights nearby as well.
Bordeaux is in the south-west of France about an hour from the Atlantic coast. It’s located in the “department” or local regional area called Gironde. This well-established city has the largest number of well-preserved historical buildings after Paris, so it is well worth your time to take a walk around the city centre. Bordeaux also has some beautiful town squares such as Place de la Bourse and Place de Quinconces. Both squares offer great opportunities for the whole family to relax while enjoying the city. The city offers all the charm of a popular French city with stunning museums, churches, parks, and loads of shopping. However, this list is my top picks if you are going with kids.
Miroir d'Eau - Water Mirror
Visiting this place is the number one thing you should do when visiting Bordeaux. It’s situated in front of Bordeaux’s famous square- Place de la Bourse. Magnificent, royal buildings surround the square. In the middle is a large fountain called the Three Graces. Directly across the street, next to the river, is where you will find the “Water Mirror” fountain. It’s a huge flat water fountain with many spouts that alternates between sending up water and mist. Our kids absolutely loved it and it wasn’t even summer when we visited. If you are there in the middle of summer, you and the kids can get as wet as you like. The water is very shallow, so great for young kids as well. What makes this place super pretty is that those beautiful 18th century style buildings in the Place de la Bourse are reflected in the water- gorgeous.
Place de Quinconces
This city square is one of the largest in western-Europe. Built on the site of a former chateau, this square is lined with trees and has a large monument dedicated to the Girondans who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Republic of France during the French Revolution. The history of the Girondans is quite interesting but complicated. Our favorite part of the monument were the horses that appear to be in motion. The various statues each represent popular French ideals of liberty, peace, and happiness. This square is also a tram hub and a popular location for local events.
This was once the main gate to the city of Bordeaux and looks like a miniature castle. You can climb up as well- children under 12 are free.
If the kids enjoy science museums, you might want to make a little time for this one. They currently have a light experience called “Luminopolos- City of Lights” which is for children ages 6 and up and it looks like a lot of fun. They have other activities for younger children though as well. Their website is all in French, but thanks to Google translate- you can work it out easily. Once inside the museum though they have included information in both French and English.
Located on the other side of the river, you’ll find an innovative side of the city. A former military barracks has been transformed into an eco-friendly redevelopment that is attracting many businesses and individuals.Of particular interest is the Le Magasin Général. This is an organic restaurant and grocery store. I didn’t go here, but I would have loved to have visited-I missed out on this cool place. However, it’s made it on my list of things to see in Bordeaux, so go-- it looks amazing. The whole complex and of course Le Magasin uses all recycled materials and emphasizes organic foods and reducing food waste. Their website is in French, but the tourism board of Bordeaux has some info in English.
Dune du Pilat
This dune is not in Bordeaux- it is about an hour’s drive away, but well worth the visit. It is the largest sand dune in Europe- stretching for almost three kilometers and are 110m high. Even though it is actually one sand dune the size makes it feels like there are several dunes. From the parking lot there are stairs that help you to reach the top of the dune. Keep walking and you can get to the beach on the other side. We visited on a cool day, so it wasn’t crowded, but in summer it can get quite busy. Plus, the sand can get very very hot in summer. So make sure you and the kids have suitable shoes and lots of water.
The views from the top of the dune are amazing- the strong Atlantic on one side and the tops of the trees in the forest next to it. Due to the movement of the sand, the dunes now cover part of that forest, but there are still plenty of trees to see.
The dune is enormous and fun to climb for the family. Two of my daughters enjoyed it so much while my vertigo was screaming. My youngest daughter was enjoying it too, but a little worried about the height. However, the dune is a fun place to visit with the family although it definitely would be easier if the kids are able to walk on their own. The pictures here do not do justice to the sheer size of the dune. It is incredibly huge!
The dune is really worth the visit- for stunning photos and more information there is a helpful unofficial website for the dune in several different languages. Also, if you like the idea of being on the French Atlantic coast then look into visiting Arcachon Bay which is next to the Dune du Pilat. It’s a great summer destination.
Bordeaux has a lot to offer- hope these tips help you make the most of your visit!
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