Bordeaux is a city that offers many different activities and entertainment that, shockingly, are not all about wine or history. From all kinds of interesting-themed bars to unusual art spaces. If something different is what you are looking for, great. Bordeaux has jumped on the hipster and alternative trend for the past years as many other European cities have.
Located on the ‘other side of the river in the Bastide neighborhood, once considered to be ‘the bad side of Bordeaux’ – Darwin Ecosystem is the epitome of a hipster, alternative hangout. Initially created to serve as a military base, it was the home of the troops for a long time. The location was known as « Quartier Niel » and you can still see this name on a lot of buildings in the surroundings of the Darwin Ecosystem.
In 2005, the barracks were abandoned and were quickly overtaken by graffiti and street artists, who turned them into an interesting art space. To preserve these unique places, an organization called ‘Evolution’ plus the local neighborhood associations purchased part of the land. With the belief that we as people can create something beautiful and one with nature, the Darwin Ecosystem was born. The philosophy behind this project is to develop an eco-friendly environment that everyone can enjoy.
What is unique about this destination is the spirit of calm and the pure artistic energy that takes up the space. There, in the cozy and modern café, you can enjoy a nice beverage. Pop up in the General Store and buy some gorgeous bioproducts. There is a huge exhibition space that is used in all kinds of ways, an indoor skater park, and a bookstore. My favorite activity there is exploring the abandoned barracks. They are covered from head to toe with unique art with an amazing purpose – to give voice to all the changes we need to make to save our earth and consequently ourselves
Mama Shelter is an unusual combination of a Hotel, Bar, and Restaurant. I have had the pleasure of visiting it a couple of times and it was always a blast. The last time we went there was for a bachelorette party and we got two complimentary bottles of wine. This is my book is a great gesture. The staff is friendly and very pleasant. The space has a modern vibe, with vibrant colors and wooden motives. The drinks are tasty and the food is delicious. In the summer there is a terrace on the top, from which you can see a panoramic view of Bordeaux, which should not be missed. All in all a great bar and restaurant that is slightly different from the typical Bordelais style. It is also a bit fancier than your average pub.
Le Marche des capuchins
Once the area around Le marché des Capucins was considered to be on the bad side of town. But the city hall of Bordeaux worked a lot to change its reputation. Now it is a vibrant part of the town, where the biggest marketplace is located. There you can find everything from delicious sweets to exotic fruits and vegetables. One of the hippest restaurants for eating oysters and sea fruits is also there. Bistrot a huitres Chez Jean-Mi is a beloved local resto. So don’t miss it if you want to try one of the favorite foods of the French garnered with the authentic and lively environment of the local market.
This cozy, little gem of a bar has a unique concept. It is all based on the era of prohibition, so in theory, the bar itself is hidden from the outside. There is a hidden entrance to it and the whole experience of entering and discovering the old-fashioned interior is pretty fun. You can have all your vintage dreams in there because everything is inspired by the 20s and 30sy. I enjoy everything there – from the interior to the drinks and especially the music.
Once it was one of five submarine bases, operating during World War on the coast of the Atlantic. Now it is more of an unorthodox art gallery for contemporary art. The dark, concrete walls, combined with the water, which often plays the role of a mirror create a magnificent illusion. I love going there, looking at the exhibitions they often house. The big rooms and high ceilings give a very particular feeling to the observer of the art. For me, It makes me think of how something that was once created with the purpose of war can now become a place of beauty and unity.
Les Vivres de l’art
It’s a place where you should go if you want your creative juices flowing. It is one of those spaces that makes you want to do something special – put your ideas on canvas or whatever floats your boat. Les Vivres de l’art is situated between the Bacalan and Basan a flot. Two very vivid and intriguing neighborhoods in Bordeaux. The idea behind the renovation of those quarters was the reason for the creation of this artsy space. Many projects are being created there and are for sure something to be seen. There are also concerts, food truck festivals, and exhibitions being organized often. And a little tip – don’t miss visiting the secret garden.
Le Comptoir Des Chats
Cats are my spirit animal. I just adore them. And if you mix cats and coffee you have a winning combination for sure. I always enjoy my time in this café where cats are kings and queens. The atmosphere is cozy and is the best place to enjoy a cupper with your friends. Meanwhile, you get to see a day in the life of the many fluffy inhabitants of the space. There is a good selection of yummy desserts and fresh drinks too.
Au nouveau monde
Who doesn’t like a good glass of beer? If you are a beer consumer you probably have an unending need to explore all of the craft and artisanal beers the world has to offer. Luckily Bordeaux is a good place for that. One of my favorite destinations for a more interesting beer selection though is this contemporary Canadian bar that has the special twist of offering homemade organic brews. They hold the title of the first certified organic pub in France. You can see and enjoy the process of crafting beer in their brewery downstairs.