Everything you need to know about visiting Bordeaux Fête le Vin
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne in southwestern France and is the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is known, in part, for its historical significance, beautifully restored architecture, and charming walkable downtown.
It is also known as the wine capital of the world. Bordeaux is home to the most important wine fair in the world, Vinexpo; and although this exhibition takes place in odd-numbered years, Vinexpo is helping to put Bordeaux in the spotlight in 2022 by building a wine extravaganza around the biannual return of the Bordeaux Wine Festival. Wine lovers won’t want to miss it.
bigger than ever
The Fête du Vin de Bordeaux, or Fête le Vin in French, has taken place every 2 years since 1998. After a pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020, the festival returns to Bordeaux this year from June 23-26. With more time to plan, however, comes additional festivities – and alas, the wine-centric events will begin in Bordeaux on June 16 thanks to the first-ever Bordeaux Wine Week, co-hosted by Vinexpo.
The Bordeaux Wine Festival, as it has been doing since the beginning of the last century, will honor the wines of Bordeaux and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. The previews will begin on June 16 in restaurants, wine shops and ephemeral cafés on the banks of the Garrone. On June 23, the festival will focus on the banks of the Garonne and the fabulous Place des Quinconces, one of the largest and most spectacular squares in Europe.
To give you an idea of the size of the festival, Rising Vacations reports that eight pavilions in Place de Quinconces will feature 57 appellations from Bordeaux and 23 from the surrounding Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.
Bordeaux wine The week, like the previews, will begin on June 16 with the Weekend of the Grands Crus: a highlighting of Bordeaux Grand Cru classified wines through exclusive dinners, a golf tournament… Then, a public symposium of two days entitled Act For Change will begin on June 20; hosted at the Cité du Vin, personalities from the wine industry will speak and discuss the future of the industry in terms of sustainability. This will give way to the Vinexpo Meetings, a meeting closed to the public for the big names in the wine industry on June 22 and 23. A who’s who of wine will occupy the city.
In total, Bordeaux Fête le Vin and Bordeaux Wine Week will take place from June 16 to 26. They will offer the public a unique opportunity for wine tasting as well as culinary and cultural experiences.
Things to do at the Bordeaux Wine Festival
The beauty of the festival is not only in the sampling of the endless varieties of wines and spirits, but also in the opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful cities in France – especially since Mayor Alain Juppé has decided to breathe new life into a neglected and dirty city in 1995. Sandblasting uncovered the beautiful honey-colored limestone of the historic and elegant buildings that make Bordeaux one of France’s most desirable cities today. Any free time you have between events and wine tastings you should use to just wander around and admire – or even take a boat trip on the Garrone.
Visit the City of Wine
Dominating the skyline and the river is one of Bordeaux’s most iconic landmarks, the modernist Cité du Vin.
This interactive museum documents wine culture through the ages with videos, artifacts, charts and paintings. A walkway crosses the different levels of the museum, with huge bay windows that offer views of the Garrone flowing below, the majestic buildings of the city (such as the beautiful cathedral of Bordeaux), and the Water Mirror , the largest reflecting pool in the world, outside Place de la Bourse. The museum provides you with audio cassettes to guide you in your visit.
The museum also offers wine tastings at any time of the year and has a shop that sells a great selection of local wines.
Pro tip: La Cité du Vin is rather dimly lit, so be careful where you step so you don’t trip over the carpet or the odd cable on the floor.
To see Picasso: the effervescence of form
From June 15, the Cité du Vin will host Picasso: the effervescence of form. The exhibition will be the first to celebrate the role and route of wine in the work of Pablo Picasso. Many paintings and sculptures will be lent by other museums.
Bordeaux Grands Crus weekend
From June 16 to 19, along the quays, the Bordeaux Grands Crus weekend will be an opportunity to taste 120 Grands Crus from the region during various events. Taste the wines at a golf tournament, vineyard tour or dinner at Chateau Lynch.
Advice from the pros Bordeaux Wine Festival
To discover all the beauty and secret corners of Bordeaux, it is best to take a guided walking tour. A maid will lead you, among other places, to the most famous bookshop, Mollet; the best patisserie, Baillardan, where the local canale dessert is made; Bordeaux Cathedral; backstage at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux; and along the river. I found this walking tour, led by local guide Hubert, to be the best. Be prepared, the visit lasts several hours but does not include a visit to the Cité du Vin.
Most nights, a sit-down meal isn’t really necessary. During Wine Week, you’ll taste and snack so much to soak up all that wine that you’ll be hard-pressed to find room for a three-course meal.
If you’re staying for the whole of Bordeaux Wine Week – and it’s highly recommended to take advantage of all there is to offer, including wine talks and symposiums – you need to plan your accommodation.
When I went there, I did not stay in Bordeaux but in a charming little village called Bouliac, a few kilometers to the south. The luxury hotel Saint James Bouliac is located in an old renovated farmhouse with rustic charm. It is surrounded by vineyards and the hotel produces its own wines and has a first class chef. They even offer cooking classes. Besides the hotel restaurant, there is a small bistro a few meters away, as well as a church, a small convenience store and not much else. A bus connects Bouliac to Bordeaux center, but a taxi is more practical if you want to go out in the evening, if only to admire the fountains and water games of the Place de la Bourse when they are illuminated.