Bordeaux with Kids - Like a Local

Photo by Juan Di Nella on Unsplash

The children are bored and hungry. Bordeaux beckons, but you need to feed the little mouths... and fast! Bordeaux is a beautiful city known for its' wine tours, art galleries, museums, shopping. But what about visiting Bordeaux with the kids? Where is the best place to eat dinner where the children can make a bit of noise?

Having lived in Bordeaux for the past twelve months, I feel almost qualified to share our best (cheap or free) finds for kids in this beautiful city.

What to do:

Cap Sciences - Science museum with hands-on stuff. During the school holidays, there are also shows and workshops. Currently, there is a Space exhibition on and in 2014, there was a dinosaur exhibition with huge animatronic dinosaurs that were a huge hit. Buy a year family pass for 50 euros and go to all the new exhibitions.

Parc de Majolan - This is a gorgeous park about ten minutes from the edge of town. There are two great play areas (and a flying fox) among the trees, a huge duck pond and peacocks as well as caves and bridges evocative of Middle Earth. Bring a picnic or have a coffee in the café. See my blog post from December here.

Miroir d'eau - The water mirror opposite the Place de la Bourse is the quintessential image of Bordeaux. Kids love kicking off socks and shoes and walking in the water, through the clouds of mist. It is a great spot for photos too, with the beautiful backdrop of Place de la Bourse.

Cruising on the Garonne - Included free with a tram pass, you can ride the Bat cub ferries as much as you want. These are an efficient way to see some different spots along the Garonne river. Both kids loved this.

Also check out my post Bordeaux with Toddlers for ideas on what to do with under fives.

Dune du Pilat - The biggest sand dune in Europe is about an hour's drive from Bordeaux. It is a must-see as the views at the top are amazing and the slide down is a lot of fun too. We visited the dune in spring.

Submarine base - This suggestion may be a little out of left field but our son loved exploring the haunting U-boat base left over from World War 2 (and it makes a good history lesson). The German army started building it in 1941, with the help of Spanish prisoners of war. The base itself is a vast concrete structure rising up above its surroundings. There are 11 berths and the roof is an indestructible 9.2m thick concrete. Parts of it now house art exhibitions and the occasional concert.

Plage du Lac - Guaranteed fun at this popular man-made beach, with a playground suitable for all ages, picnic area, ping pong tables and a forest walk.

Jardin Public - We lived five minutes from these beautiful gardens and the kids loved the massive playground with pirate ship, kicking a ball, statue -spotting, picnicking and feeding the geese and ducks.

Marche des Quais - Every Sunday morning, you can go and experience the feast for the senses that is this market. Walk along the quays lined with ripe produce of many colours and bakery stalls full of sweet cakes, pastries and giant loaves. Our noses were full of the smells of raw fish, hot chips, freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh bread. The vendors cry their wares and "sledge" each other in loud voices periodically.  A lunch of paella and chips (with sangria for the adults) to a background of live clarinet music was absolute bliss to top off the experience.

Where to eat:

It can be hard finding good places to eat in France with kids. It is harder when the children don't eat dairy. Our good-old backstops when we first arrived were (dare I say it) McDonalds or the Ikea café for consistency, price and allergen labels. But since branching out, we have discovered a few gems that I would like to share.

Les Potins de Coline More Info

This little creperie / café in the area of Chartrons is a great place to spend a bon moment with a coffee and the kids will be entertained with the playroom filled with toys and books. Oh, and did I mention the crepes and caramel sauce are to die for.

The Breakfast Club More info
Centre ville

This café is a little slice of Britain for when you have a hankering for a good old brunch. Our kids tuck into the baked beans and hash browns. The staff are friendly and speak perfect English. It can get quite packed in the weekends though, so get in early before some shopping on Rue Sainte Catherine.

5th Avenue 
Centre ville 
Modeled on a New York deli, this restaurant is great for families with a kids menu (kids served first) and continuous dining so no waiting til after 7pm. There are burgers of course, but also delicious Mexican dishes, like burritos and nachos.

Lac / Merignac / Quais

Yes, this is a chain seafood restaurant but we appreciated the service and they catered to kids with activity packs and children's menus (three courses and drink for €9). I ordered my son the salmon steak and fries. The food was great and a large range of seafood if you have a hankering for that.

Centre/ Bordeaux Lac

This is another chain restaurant which is a French steakhouse. What we appreciated most was that it opens a little earlier (Centre open from lunch, Lac open from 6) than most of the other nice restaurants, which can open at 7-7:30pm. Our 2-year old definitely appreciates the early dinner.

Rocher des pirates

We stumbled on this awesome pirate - themed restaurant by accident. All the staff are dressed in costume, there is a  a great playground and a fantastic show with sword-fighting, pyrotechnics and stunts. The price may be slightly more expensive than normal but it is worth it for the atmosphere. (68 euros for family of 4 with delish burgers, pizza and chips on offer). Miss Two was a little unsure of the pirate shanties and special effects but Master 7 was over the moon.

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Any other good ones to add? Any that cater to allergies?

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