One of the world's richest winemaking regions, Bordeaux is also an important trading center where oil, pottery and metals were once common currency. Today, Bordeaux's Port of the Moon is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and commerce - better yet, shopping - is still a lively part of the city's cultural heritage.
Bordeaux's commercial backbone
Europe's longest pedestrian street, rue Sainte-Catherine, lies not far from Bordeaux's trading port and has become the city's main shopping artery.
Radiating off the southern part of rue Sainte-Catherine, around Place de la Victoire, are a dozen independent designers and vintage, second-hand shops: undisputed starting point for those seeking a one-of-a-kind item at a bargain. The boutiques are small and often hidden, so follow a map and hunt for rare pieces at Sew & Laine (85 Cours de l'Argonne), Leilou Shop (12 Rue du Loup), Arsenic et Vieilles Dentelles (39 Rue des Trois Conils), Jolie Môme (22 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges), and Bis Repetita (36 Rue de Cheverus).
The city's Golden Triangle, formed by Cours de l'Intendance, Cours Georges Clemenceau and Allées de Tourny, lies farther north up rue Sainte-Catherine and is an area of great architectural wealth. All the high-end clothing, accessories and home deco brands are here, from Galeries Lafayette, Agnès b., Christian Lacroix, Longchamp and Alain Figaret to Dinh Van jewelers, Baccarat, and more... With so many beautifully refined things to see, including the Grand Théatre, you may wish to never leave this magical Triangle.
Working up an appetite
Hungry from all that (window) shopping ? Le Comptoir Bordelais (1 bis Rue Piliers de Tutelle) and Comtesse de Barry (33 Cours de l'Intendance) have everything from foie gras and caviar to specialty oils, truffles, and so much more.
For fine chocolate, head to La Maison Darricau (7 Place Gambetta). This century-old institution combines the world's best cacao beans and sweet savoir-faire to create, amongst others, chocolate-based delicacies using local Agen prunes, Médoc wines, Cognac... Make sure to stock up on the local dessert at Cannelé Baillardan, which has a handful of shops in Bordeaux.
Bringing the vineyards home
If you can't make it out to the esteemed estates, Bordeaux boasts many city cellars with experienced sommeliers. Perhaps the most renowned is the Vinothèque de Bordeaux, (8 Cours du 30 Juillet) an immense sanctuary for oenophiles with an impressive collection of rare, prestigious wines.
L'Intendant (2 Allées de Tourny), ranked as one of the most beautiful wine shops in France, has its bottles displayed around a stunning spiral staircase that climbs four floors. The higher you go, the more prestigious (and expensive) the wine...
L'Oenolimit (2 Rue des Ayres) hosts art exhibits and has a vast selection of bottles at very reasonable prices. If Cognac is your aperitif of choice, then make sure to visit the Cognac Only Boutique (18 Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau), which sells over 500 different types.
Arts and treasures
Carré d'artistes (66 Rue des Remparts) is a trademark gallery that shakes up traditional rules to democratize contemporary art, exhibiting a huge variety of artists on an equal footing. Here artworks are priced based on size rather than signature.
For a veritable flashback of France throughout the ages, head to Passage Saint-Michel (14-15 Place de Canteloup) in the old city. Fervent antiques and second-hand goods dealers have set up shop in this former 19th-century banana-drying warehouse, which now contains a labyrinth of regional and art deco furniture plus hordes of curious, varied objects