Up until a few years ago, the Bacalan district in Bordeaux was an area that had largely been avoided or ignored by tourists and locals. Luckily that has changed, and the trending corner of this historical city is now home to diverse restaurants, lively bars, and some of the best cultural attractions in the city, including the acclaimed La Cité du Vin, a one-of-a-kind epicenter dedicated to discovering the world of wine.
Thanks to its address in the heart of Bacalan, the Marriott Renaissance Bordeaux is a perfect pied-a-terre for discovering it all.
Here are 5 reasons you must stay at the Marriott Renaissance Bordeaux
1. Location! Location! Location!
Since the 19th-century the area, known as Bacalan, has been an active harbour set on the banks of the River Garonne, where big ships offloaded their cargo and where shipyards and dockyards attracted hundreds of workers. It is believed that the name Bacalan comes from the Portuguese word bacalao, meaning cod, and was given to the port by sailors coming back from their fishing season in Canada.
After decades of neglect following WWII, the area has been through a complete renovation and is today a successful trendy mix of modern and bold architecture with hints of its industrial past such as silos, cranes, warehouses, docks and rails half hidden by grasses.
Dock workers and sailors have given way to tourists , restaurants, hotels and residents looking for fun and culture in Bordeaux.
La Cité du Vin’s unique building is Bordeaux architectural eye candy
2. Culture and Entertainment
The Cité du Vin, a cultural centre dedicated to wine, is just across the street. Actually, you get a stunning view over this bold and futuristic building from the roof top of the Marriott Renaissance Bordeaux..
The nearby Bassins de Lumière is a mesmerising digital art space located in an impressive submarine base built by the Germans during WWII.
This huge bunker made of 8-metre thick walls seemed to be indestructible and remained untouched for decades, a dreadful symbol of this sad period.
However, In the late 20th century, the place was turned into a cultural space mostly dedicated to modern and contemporary art until finally in 2020 the Bassins de Lumière opened.
Imagine entering a tremendous cave with four 110-metre long pools filled with water surrounded by high concrete walls, immersed in darkness. And suddenly the walls, the ceiling and the surface of the water are turned into huge projection screens while music fills the air. This is a high quality digital sound and light experience dedicated to great artists with three to four different shows each year. We had the chance to preview the new show starting this February staring Salvador Dali pictorial work and Pink Floyd music and just loved this psychedelic experience!
The Musée Mer Marine is also in the neighborhood, as are numerous clubs, music venues, restaurants, and more.
This vast covered market is filled with local producers. Customers can buy raw products to bring back home but mostly they go to enjoy good food in a friendly atmosphere. We first made a tour through the market to discover the different food on offer and made our choice from fish, seafood, all kinds of meat grilled or stewed, bread cooked on the spot, cold cuts, pastries and cakes… an of course wine.
Bordeaux has many food markets that are a great way to sample local specialties
3. Marriott’s Style
Opening a hotel in a former harbour area may seem like a bold gamble but it proved to be a successful one.
The initial idea was to take advantage of the unique architecture of long-unused grain silos to build an unusual, avant-garde hotel.
You enter the Renaissance Marriott going through six huge concrete cylinders turned into high wells of light.—a very original hotel lobby!
The hotel has 149 rooms mixing raw materials such as the bear concrete ceiling with precious ones such as velvet curtains, brass lighting and wood furniture.
Large windows offer a beautiful view over the Cité du Vin, the Garonne River ,or over the hotel’s quiet garden.
The views are even better from the top floor where you can enjoy an indoor pool surrounded by big bay windows as well as a bar and restaurant, and a vast terrace.
Book a table with your besties at Gina’s rooftop restaurant at the Marriott Renaissance Bordeaux
4. Great Food and Outdoor Space
At first, you might not be able tot take your eyes off of the view, but once you sit down and order, the food quickly grabs your attention. The Italian restaurant, Gina, has an outside terrace and cocktail bar, and is open from breakfast until late night. the 9th floor of the Renaissance Marriott is the meeting place of both hotel guests and people from Bordeaux who find there the place to show off and mostly the place to have wonderful food for a good value for money.
Chef Giuseppe Petraroli and his team make authentic Italian cuisine. From starter to dessert, the plates are generously sized, fresh and delicious. We enjoyed an Insalata di Polpo, Salami Misti, grilled swordfish, and Angus entrecote, but you can’t go wrong with homemade pasta or a Pinsa Romana, a kind of ancient pizza made with a very thin crust.
The wine list is a bounty of Italian and French wines, and there’s a handful of signature drinks designed to pair with each plate.
Of course, there is alway a traditional Aperol spritz to really get you into the dolce vita frame of mind.
5. Bordeaux Attractions Within Reach
From the Marriott Renaissance Bordeaux, the city centre is easily reached by bike, with numerous cycle lanes, by tram, or even by boat with a public shuttle called Batcub, which links Bacalan to several stops in town. It’s a mini-cruise along the Garonne River at the cost of a bus ticket!.
You can buy your ticket through the dedicated app “m-ticket TBM”.
Or, if you are only staying at the Renaissance Marriott Bordeaux for a weekend and don’t have enough time to visit all that Bordeaux has to offer this time, the neighborhood around the hotel, and the hotel itself, are wonderful to call home for a little while.