Bordeaux city has several distinct districts each quite different from each other. Pey Berland has a blend of old and new and a hip vibe plus Bordeaux’s only shopping mall.
Pey Berland Bordeaux
This district is an interesting mix of elegant 18th century architecture and contemporary 1960s construction. It’s home to the administrative center of Bordeaux with the city hall (Hotel du ville), housed in the classic Palais Rohan, and other more modern structures like the unique Palais de Justice, designed by Richard Rogers.
On Place Pey Berland, just next to the city hall, stands the Cathedrale Saint André, a Roman Catholic church and seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. The Cathedral regularly hosts music concerts and choirs so keep an eye on the posters just next to the entrance. Next to the Cathedral you will find Tour Pey Berland. You can climb this 15th century bell tower and enjoy amazing views of the city. Pey Berland is also known as the museum district of Bordeaux. While it’s not an art pilgrimage, there are still several good museums worth visiting. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design and the Musée d’Aquitaine (a regional history museum) are well worth a visit.
Hip and happening in Bordeaux
This district is also a hub for the new wave of hip quality cafés emerging around Bordeaux such as The Blacklist, SIP and l’alchimiste. It’s also good for shopping with plenty of clothing, jewelry and art boutiques are located between the town hall, place Gambetta and cours de l’independance. On rainy days you can also visit the Meriadeck, the only shopping mall in the center of Bordeaux.
Local’s tip: Mollat bookstore. This beautiful shop, established in 1896, is the first independent bookstore in France and remains a family business to this day. What I particularly like about this shop is the little recommendation notes that the store’s employees leave on books they like. The bookstore often hosts exhibitions and lectures so keep an eye on their program when in Bordeaux. It’s worth a quick visit even if you don’t speak French, just to grasp the atmosphere.
By Ira Szmuk, a Bordeaux based blogger in love with the city. Her blog is about up-to-date events and places to visit in Bordeaux and the South-West of France: www.lostinbordeaux.com