By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
The Marriott Renaissance Bordeaux is a 4-star hotel that recently opened in the new “Bacalan” trendy district of Bordeaux. Created on a former industrial, port site, Bacalan has become over the last few years a festive and cultural melting pot. We just tested this new Marriott hotel and had a great time.
Reason # 1: Top Location
Although the Marriott Renaissance is not in the central historical district of Bordeaux we had plenty to see and do at walking distance from the hotel. Since the 19th century the area has been an active harbour set on the River Garonne bank 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 program of renovation. It is today a successful mix of modern and bold architecture with old testimonies of its industrial past such as silos, cranes, warehouses, docks or rails half hidden by grasses. Dockers and sailors have given way to tourists and locals looking for fun and culture.
Reason # 2: Cultural and Entertainment Sites at Hand
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 hotel where the pool, bar and restaurant are. The “Cité du Vin” has just been through an updating and upscaling of its inner presentation and visitors of all ages will learn plenty about wine and vines in all their aspects.
The “Bassins de Lumière” is an amazing place 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. 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 “Halles de Bacalan” are at the foot of the Renaissance Marriott. This is an original place, both a farmers market and a restaurant. This vast covered market filled with light gathers local producers willing to promote their products in a different way. Customers can of course buy raw products to bring back home but mostly they go here 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. After paying our plates at the stalls we sat at a table shared with other visitors. In spite of the huge success of the “Halles de Bacalan” prices are very affordable and a favourite of Bordeaux young people.
Reason # 3: Marriott’s Style
Opening a 4-star hotel in a former harbour area may look 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” and the Garonne or over the hotel quiet garden. The view is even better from the top floor where you can enjoy it from the beautiful indoor pool surrounded by big bay windows, from the bar and its vast terrace or from the restaurant.
Reason # 4: Great Food Offer
If at first we were not able to take our eyes off of the view the quality of the food quickly took our gaze back to our plates! “Gina” is the food space of the hotel with an outside terrace, a cocktail bar and Italian restaurant. Open from breakfast till late at 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 an authentic and yummy Italian cuisine. From starter to dessert the plates are generously filled, everything is extra fresh and very tasty. The menu proposes an authentic Italian cuisine. We enjoyed an “Insalata di Polpo”, “Salami Misti”, grilled swordfish, Angus entrecote but you can also have a choice of “Pasta con Amore” or a large “Pinsa Romana” a kind of ancient pizza made with a very thin crust. The wine list offers a wide choice of Italian and French wines plus an interesting choice of signature drinks designed to pair with each plate of the menu.
Breakfast is also served at Gina’s and is a real feast for the eyes and the perfect way to get you into a good mood with a nicely filled stomach!
Reason # 5: Bordeaux’ Attractions Easily Reached
Bordeaux city centre is easily reached by bike, with numerous cycle lanes, by tram or even by boat with a public shuttle called Batcub linking Bacalan to several stops in town. A mini-cruise along the River Garonne for the cost of a bus ticket! You can buy your ticket through the dedicated app “m-ticket TBM”.
But even if you are staying at the Renaissance Marriott for just a weekend and don’t have enough time to visit all Bordeaux places of interest, you will have plenty of things to do at walking distance from the hotel.
More info and booking at https://www.marriott.com/fr/hotels/bodbr-renaissance-bordeaux-hotel/overview/
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny
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