Bordeaux is set to dazzle once again for the end of year celebrations. The stunning theatre-themed illuminations organised by city council will adorn Bordeaux’s most charming avenues for most of the month!
This Christmas will also be an environmentally friendly thanks to the use of energy-efficient LED lights. With all this in mind, here is my selection of the best things to see in Bordeaux this Christmas.
1. The Allées de Tourny Christmas Market
This is the biggest Christmas market in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and assembles a hundred or so vendors in a traditional setting, with quaint wooden huts erected under the glittering trees of the Allées de Tourny. You’ll find local favourites like foie gras, Saint-Emilion wines and the classic cannelé pastries. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the city’s twinning with Quebec City, and to mark the occasion there will be some fantastic Canadian products on offer at the Bordeaux Christmas market.
2. The giant lanterns at the Parc Bordelais
Young and old alike will marvel at this event during the celebrations drawing 2022 to a close. For almost two months, the famous Parc Bordelais is lit up with hundreds of silk lanterns at dusk, transporting you into a magical world of towering plants and fantastic animals. It’s a veritable Odyssey of Light, based on an ancient Chinese art form but powered by solar panels! Information and booking: www.1001lumieres.fr.
3. The glass Christmas tree in Place Pey-Berland
Last year, the Green mayor Pierre Hurmic caused a stir by installing a contemporary work of art in front of Bordeaux cathedral: a tree made of glass and steel instead of a traditional Christmas tree. Despite not meeting with unanimous approval, it’s set to return this year to delight photographers, who love its many reflections. It will be unveiled on 9 December 2022, alongside all the other decorations throughout the city.
4. The Cours de l’Intendance and Grand Théâtre illuminations
This is the chicest spot in Bordeaux, and also the best decorated. All the way from Place de la Comédie to Gambetta, you can admire the magnificent shop windows, and the spectacular lights suspended over the tramway. A little tip: it’s even more magical when the road is wet. Don’t forget to go along the Passage Sarget and catch a glimpse of the Grand Hôtel lobby. But above all, don’t miss the light projection on the Grand Théâtre, where the façade of Bordeaux’s Opera House is transformed by Huygens’ magic lantern.
5. The Christmas tree on the Promenade Sainte-Catherine
This is a slightly more unconventional shopping area than the one on the Promenade Sainte-Catherine, like a small village with its alleys and split-level, open-air courtyard. It’s always full of people for the holidays and boasts all manner of decorations. Be sure to meet Father Christmas, who’s there every weekend in December.
6. The Darwin Christmas market
Bordeaux’s famous alternative and bustling area brings together its craftsmen and creators for its traditional Christmas market. This one isn’t the least bit conventional and will even include a barber and a tattoo artist! It’s a great way to experience the festive season a little differently and find some original, environmentally friendly gifts.
7. The seemingly infinite Rue Sainte-Catherine
The street said to be Europe’s largest pedestrianised shopping thoroughfare is an unparalleled sight at Christmas. Its 46 illuminated crossings reveal its true beauty and seemingly endless expanse.
If Bordeaux is famous for its incredible architecture, classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, I assure you it’s all the more dazzling when adorned with lights. So start planning your Christmas getaway to South West France’s most beautiful city now!