For travellers who are currently weighing the options of visiting the elegant city of Bordeaux or exploring the dynamic charm of Nantes, this blog post is here to help. By comparing the attractions, cultural scenes, and culinary delights of both Bordeaux and Nantes, this guide aims to assist readers in determining which destination best suits their travel preferences.
A small city in southwestern France, Bordeaux is world-renowned for its wine, cuisine and architecture. If you mention Bordeaux to anyone, the first thing they think about is wine. But, there’s more to the city than just wine. It’s a beautiful city that is compact and walkable. We highly recommend visiting. It almost feels like a miniature Paris.
Not far from France’s west coast, Nantes is the sixth largest city in France. Not as well known as some other French cities like Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille it doesn’t make it any less interesting. There’s plenty of culture to take in here, alongside some amazing food!
Pro’s and Con’s of Bordeaux and Nantes
- World-class wine culture.
- Rich history and stunning architecture.
- Vibrant arts scene and diverse culinary experiences.
- Access to nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as Saint-Émilion and the Cité du Vin museum.
- Proximity to picturesque regions like the Dordogne and the Bay of Arcachon.
- More laid-back atmosphere.
- More expensive that Nantes
- Less emphasis on innovative art and technology.
Best for: Wine enthusiasts, history buffs, foodies, and those who prefer a laid-back atmosphere and proximity to vineyards and picturesque countryside.
- Rich history and beautiful architecture.
- Innovative art scene, including the Machines de l’île project and the annual Voyage à Nantes event.
- Strong focus on sustainability and green living.
- Vibrant cultural scene with museums, galleries, and theaters.
- Proximity to the Loire Valley, known for its vineyards and chateaux.
- Excellent public transportation network.
- Cooler weather compared to Bordeaux.
- Not as well-known for its wine culture and culinary scene.
Best for: Art and innovation enthusiasts, eco-conscious travelers, and those who appreciate a blend of history and modern urban development with easy access to the Loire Valley.
How long to stay in Bordeaux
Bordeaux isn’t a big city, but there’s plenty to do. You could get around most of the city in a day if you wanted but you’d miss all the best bits. Bordeaux is a city best enjoyed at a slow pace. Wandering around whilst stopping off at cafes and tourist attractions.
There are plenty of galleries, museums and shops to fill your time. Plus if you’re into your wine, there are all the local vineyards that you can visit. There are also some pretty local towns to visit like Saint-Émilion and Arcachon. We’d recommend staying at least two days in Bordeaux, three days would be better though. We could easily spend a few weeks here, although we’d probably be fat alcoholics by the end of it.
How long to stay in Nantes
As it’s not a particularly big city, you could easily see most of the attractions in two days. But for a more relaxing stay, we recommend staying for three days. Especially if you fancy visiting some local vineyards.
How much is food and drink in Bordeaux?
The cost of food and drink in Bordeaux can vary depending on the establishment and the location. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Bordeaux:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Bordeaux will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: As Bordeaux is a wine region, wine is readily available and is often a better value than beer or cocktails. A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality and rarity of the wine.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Bordeaux will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Bordeaux will likely cost between €15 and €30 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is food and drink in Nantes?
Nantes is known for its delicious food and drink, and there are plenty of great places to eat and drink throughout the city. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Nantes:
Beer: A pint of beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Nantes will likely cost between €5 and €8.
Glass of wine: The Loire Valley is famous for its wines, and you’ll find plenty of great local wines to try in Nantes. A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €4 to €10, depending on the quality and rarity of the wine.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Nantes will likely cost between €2 and €4.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Nantes will likely cost between €20 and €40 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is it to stay in Bordeaux?
It’s worth noting that prices may be higher in touristy areas.
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Bordeaux can cost anywhere from €200 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €80 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
How much is it to stay in Nantes?
The cost of accommodation in Nantes can vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation you choose. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Nantes:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Nantes can cost anywhere from €150 to €400 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Nantes will likely cost between €70 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Nantes will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Nantes will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
When is the best time to visit Bordeaux?
Bordeaux has got it all: mild weather, world-class wines, and plenty of festivals and events. Here’s what you need to know:
Weather: The weather in Bordeaux is usually pleasant, with mild temperatures year-round. Summers can get a bit sticky, but winters are mild and rainy. For the best weather, plan your visit during the shoulder season of April to June or September to October.
Wine season: Wine lovers, won’t want to miss the grape harvest season from September to October. The perfect time to indulge in wine tasting and vineyard tours and sample some of the best wines in the world.
Festivals: Bordeaux loves a good party, and there are plenty of festivals and events to keep you entertained. Don’t miss the Bordeaux Wine Festival in June or the Fête le Vin in June, both of which celebrate the region’s rich wine-making culture.
Crowds: The summer months of July and August are peak tourist season in Bordeaux, which means the crowds can be pretty intense. If you prefer a more relaxed visit, consider travelling during the off-season when the crowds have thinned out.
When is the best time to visit Nantes?
When planning any trip, timing is always important. But, we’re sure whenever you visit you’ll have a good time.
Weather: Nantes has a mild oceanic climate, which means it’s generally quite temperate year-round. But let’s be honest, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. You might be basking in the sun one minute, and then running for cover from the rain the next. But hey, that’s all part of the fun, right?
Festivals: Nantes is renowned for its cultural scene, and there are several festivals throughout the year that make it a good time to visit. Le Voyage à Nantes is very popular with over 500,000 people flocking to the city to be there. The festival features live music performances, food and art installations. It’s held from July to September and definitely worth a look!
Crowds: Summer is great for catching one of Nantes’ many outdoor events or festivals. But, it can get very busy. If navigating bustling streets isn’t for you, try visiting between September and November.
Average Monthly Temperatures
The average monthly temperatures for Bordeaux are:
The average monthly temperatures for Nantes are:
Getting around Bordeaux:
The city’s public transportation system consists of trams, buses, and a bike-sharing service. The trams are well-connected and cover most of the city’s major attractions. The tickets allow you to use any form of public transport for a certain period of time, (usually an hour). So if you needed to get one bus and a tram to get somewhere you’d only need one ticket if the journey was less than an hour.
Bike sharing is a good option for people that want to be a bit more active. Bordeaux has a lot of small windy streets so we spent most of the time walking, which I feel is the best way to see a city. Taxis and Ubers are readily available but you might struggle to get one right in the heart of the old town where a lot of it is pedestrianised.
Getting Around Nantes:
Nante has a good public transport system that covers most of the city’s major sights and attractions. But, due to the size of the city, you’d be better off walking most of the time. You’ll be able to experience the city properly, and see all the interesting little things you miss when you’re on a bus or a tram.
If you do plan on making the most of public transport, the trams and buses are clean and reliable. Getting a Nantes City Pass is a good way to save money and hassle. Renting a bike is a nice way to see the city at a quicker pace. A ride down the river is a nice way to spend an afternoon too.
Top things to do in Bordeaux
Visit the Place de la Bourse: This square is an absolute must-see, with stunning architecture and a beautiful reflecting pool called the Water Mirror. Don’t forget your camera!
Explore the historic Saint-Pierre district: This area is so charming, with cobblestone streets, cute cafes, and lots of history. Take a stroll around and enjoy the vibes.
Go wine tasting in the nearby vineyards of Saint-Émilion: If you’re a wine lover, this is the place to be! Saint-Émilion has some of the best vineyards and wineries around, and the views are pretty stunning too.
Visit the Musée d’Aquitaine: Learn more about the region’s history and culture at this museum, which has everything from prehistoric artefacts to contemporary art.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Jardin Public: This park is seriously beautiful, with a lake, a rose garden, and tons of trees and flowers. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax.
Take a river cruise on the Garonne River: You’ll see all sorts of amazing architecture and landmarks, and the views are seriously good.
Visit the Basilique Saint-Michel: This church is up on a hill, so the views are even better! Take some snaps, enjoy the scenery and soak up the atmosphere.
Enjoy some of Bordeaux’s local cuisine: Bordeaux has got some seriously tasty food, including sweet pastries called canelés and a delicious steak dish called entrecôte bordelaise.
Go to one of Bordeaux’s many festivals and events: This city loves to party, so there’s always something going on. Don’t miss the Bordeaux Wine Festival in June or the Fête le Vin in June.
Take a day trip to the nearby town of Arcachon: This seaside town is seriously gorgeous, with sand dunes and beaches that will take your breath away. It’s an easy train ride from Bordeaux, so don’t miss out!
Top things to do in Nantes
Visit the Château des Ducs de Bretagne: Once home to the Dukes of Brittany, this beautiful castle is now a museum. Its rounded walls and moat are particularly impressive. You can walk around the walls for free. But, if you want to go into the museum you have to pay.
Explore the Île de Nantes: The island of Nantes is a former industrial area that has been transformed into a cool and trendy district. There are some very impressive art installations to see like ‘The Rings’ by Daniel Buren.
Take a Vineyard tour: Nantes is located in the Loire Valley, one of the most famous wine regions in the world. So it would be rude not to tour some of the local vineyards! Well, that’s our excuse.
Walk through the Passage Pommeraye: This three-tiered shopping arcade is stunning and a must-see when visiting Nantes. Its beautiful architecture and elegant shops are great for wandering around.
Visit the Musée d’Arts de Nantes: One of the largest museums of its type in the region, it has an extensive collection of over 12,000 works of art. Including works by famous artists like Monet, Picasso and Kandinsky.
Take a boat tour on the Erdre River: Known as the most beautiful river in France, is there a better way to see it other than being on it? Some of the countryside and chalets along the river are stunning.
Walk along the Quai de la Fosse: This promenade along the river is perfect for an afternoon stroll. You can enjoy the views and look at all the boats.
Visit the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle: Filled with skeletons of animals. You’ll marvel at the impressive collection of specimens on show here. There’s even a whale skeleton that’s over 18 meters in length.
Go to Les Machines de l’île: The Machine de l’île is an experience you won’t forget! A park featuring giant mechanical creatures, it’s not something you see every day. Great for kids and adults alike!
Explore the Musée de l’Imprimerie: This museum is dedicated to the history of printing, and is a fascinating look at how technology has evolved over the centuries. Be sure to check out the old printing presses and other historic artefacts.
Explore the Musée de l’Imprimerie: Take a tour of this impressive museum and learn all about Nantes’ long history with printing. You’ll never appreciate how much work used to go into printing until you’ve visited here!
How to spend three days in Bordeaux
To begin your day, head to the Place de la Bourse and the Water Mirror reflecting pool. Take some time to check out the beautiful architecture and take some pictures. If you want a really special experience, try and get up early to visit during the sunrise. It’s so worth it! After that, visit the Musée d’Aquitaine to explore the history and culture of the region. The museum has a fascinating collection of artefacts and exhibits. End your day with a dinner in the Saint-Pierre district, it’s probably the prettiest area in Bordeaux. There are plenty of good restaurants to choose from, make sure you sit outside if the weather is good too!
Spend your morning taking a day trip to the nearby town of Saint-Émilion, famous for its vineyards and wine. It’s only 35 minutes by train. Go for a wine tasting in one of the local vineyards then get a lovely French lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, return to Bordeaux and take a river cruise on the Garonne River. There’s something about river cruises that we love, the water is so relaxing and it’s a good way to see a city from a different perspective. For dinner visit Les Halles Bacalan, a market hall full of food vendors and bars. There’s so much food to try and wines to drink! After dinner, take a walk along the Quai des Chartrons to enjoy the views of the river and the city lights.
Start your day with a visit to the Jardin Public, one of the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux. It’s a great place to relax and people-watch. In the afternoon, head to the Basilique Saint-Michel to enjoy the stunning views of the city. There are loads of cool shops close by if you fancy looking around too. Finally, attend one of Bordeaux’s many festivals and events in the evening, such as the Bordeaux Wine Festival or Fête le Vin. If none of them are on, why not visit Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux. This museum takes you through the history of winemaking in the region and even has wine-tasting sessions! It’s well worth a visit.
How to spend three days in Nantes
Morning: Grab a coffee then head to Château des ducs de Bretagne. This 15th-century fortress is very impressive. Walk around the walls for nice views of the city, or visit the museum if you want to learn more about its history.
Afternoon: After a morning of history, why not visit the Musée d’arts de Nantes and see some artwork from renowned artists? Even the building itself is very beautiful so it’s definitely worth visiting.
Evening: Head to Bouffay, a great neighbourhood full of bars and restaurants. Grab some traditional French food and local wine and relax for the evening.
Morning: Head to Les Machines de l’île nice and early to avoid the crowds. This crazy art project combines sci-fi with real-world engineering. Make sure to reserve a ticket in the high season.
Afternoon: After a morning of watching a robotic elephant walk around, head to the Jardin des Plantes and have a relaxing afternoon. There are so many interesting plants and trees to see and even a herbal garden.
Evening: Go for a walk down the Loire River. It runs through the heart of Nantes and there are plenty of bars and restaurants on its banks. Is there a better way to spend an evening than watching the sunset whilst eating amazing food and drinking good wine?
Morning: Head out of the city and visit a local vineyard. There are plenty of local wine tours that will take you. It’s a great way to see how the wine is made and sample some of the local produce.
Afternoon: After lunch, visit the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. This natural history museum will keep adults and kids entertained for a while! Theres plenty of exhibits featuring a wide array of animals. There’s even a vivarium with live snakes!
Evening: Wander around the Graslin district, this beautiful part of Nantes is full of chic shops, amazing restaurants and cool bars. Make sure you try some seafood dishes and indulge in some local wines and beers.
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61
Food and drink: 8
Culture and history: 7
Total score: 56