Visit Bordeaux, France, one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: Located in southwest France, Bordeaux lies on a bend of the river Garonne. The city has been classified by UNESCO as an “outstanding urban and architectural ensemble.” The historic district is for pedestrians only, so take time to explore its ancient narrow cobblestone streets. Former wine merchant warehouses along the docks (les quais) are now home to gardens, boutiques, museums, cafes and restaurants. When dialing direct, use the prefix 011 followed by 33 (country code) + (city code) + phone number shown below. (1 euro = $1.356 on Jan. 30)
Getting there: Round-trip airfare to Bordeaux is $1,150 on departures through March 20; $1,300 through May 16; Delta service via Amsterdam or Paris. Direct three-hour train service is available from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport or from Paris city center; www.sncf.fr. A drive takes about five hours on the A10 toll road.
Stay: Adagio Bordeaux Gambetta offers two- and three-person studios to one-bedroom apartments for up to four people. Each type of accommodation affords for self-catering with an electric stove, microwave and dishwasher. On-site is a fitness room with sauna. The hotel is a two-minute walk from the historic center and cafe- and boutique-lined Place Gambetta. Rates average 84 euros-110 euros. 40 Rue Edmond Michelet, (557) 30-47-47, www.adagio-city.com.
Eat: The hip wine bar Wine & Soul offers traditional French dishes (tartare) along with an assortment of Spanish/Italian-style tapas (caprese salad); 8 euros-20 euros. Evenings feature soul LP tunes or live music. 23 Rue du Couvent, www.wineandsoul.fr, (557) 77-09-86. The chic Maison du Vin, across the street from the city’s tourist office, is a magnificent 18th-century building housing a contemporary wine bar run by Bordeaux winemakers. With sommeliers, tourists can taste a range of wines from nearly 60 local appellations for 2 euros-5 euros per glass. Sample from a selection of cheeses and charcuterie for 6 euros. 3 Cours du 30 Juillet, (556) 00-22-66. At the city tourist office, coach trips to a vineyard with tastings followed by a chateau visit and lunch can be arranged. 12 Cours du 30 Juillet, (556) 00-66-04, www.bordeaux-tourisme.com.
Experience: A self-guided Bordeaux map and walking tour smartphone app ($1.99, no Internet connection required) includes turn-by-turn directions from one site to another and auto-tracking to see your location on a moving map. Nearly 60 app features include a city orientation, museums, cabarets, architecture, landmarks, shops and examples of daily life. www.gpsmycity.com/iphone/bordeaux-walking-tours-60.html. A highlight on the tour is Eglise Notre Dame la Grande, an 11th-century Gothic church.
Stay: Charming L’Hotel Particulier (meaning private house) is a fully renovated, late-19th century townhouse in the heart of the historic center. Stylish guest rooms feature high ceilings, luxurious beds and linens, spacious bathrooms — and most have views of Saint-André Cathedral or the courtyard. Rooms range from 97 euros-168 euros, including breakfast (six apartments available at higher rates). 44 Rue Vital Carles, (557) 88-28-80, www.lhotel-particulier.com.
Eat: Find Elvis near the Opera House. This cozy restaurant offers market-fresh dishes, including a vegetarian menu, and offers wine tastings at the bar; dishes average 30 euros. 13 Rue Piliers de Tutelle, (556) 81-85-79.
Experience: Follow “La Route des Vins” through the Medoc countryside. A leisurely full-day guided tour (25 miles) along the Garonne River takes riders past famous chateaux, through vineyards and quaint villages; 80 euros. 4 Rue de Maubec, (608) 72-01-95, www.bordeaux-by-bike.com.
Stay: Petit Hotel Labottiere is a carefully restored 18th-century home sitting adjacent to the lush Public Gardens (Jardin Public) and a short walk to the historic center. Each of the two spacious apartments is decorated with antique furnishings. Upon request, breakfast is served in the room. Rates are 190 euros on stays through June 30 (refer to code DECOUVERTE BORDEAUX). 14 Rue Francis Martin, (675) 67-86-21, www.petithotellabottiere.fr.
Eat: A husband-and-wife team owns and operates Soléna — not notable for decor or atmosphere, but for traditional French cuisine blended with European touches. Ever-changing menus offer a choice of two starters (choice of meat or seafood), two entrees (meat or fish) and a dessert; 36 euros-39 euros. A five-course menu is 55 euros (for the entire table only). 5 Rue Chauffour, (557) 53-28-06, www.solena-restaurant.com.
Experience: Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the eighth century. A full-day panoramic Bordeaux 360 minibus tour of nearby appellations includes a visit to medieval Saint-Emilion, stops at chateaux for wine tastings and local specialities, and a picnic lunch in the gardens of a former convent; 145 euros, mid-April-October. Several other tours include Graves and Sauternes appellation, half-day trips and gala chateau dinners (May), from 80 euros. 37 Rue de Saint-Macaire, (556) 92-32-31, www.bdx-360.com.
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Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.