BORDEAUX, France — In a city with a mix of students, the weekend starts on Thursday in Bordeaux. A night of drinking and dancing begins in the Place de la Victoire, where the crowd tends to be younger and livelier. Very popular with students is Le Titi Twister (76 Rue Leyteire), which as one insider described as “cozy inside with a Belgian/Dutch pub feel to it…and a good selection of world beers.” Other spots for entertainment include Place St-Pierre, Place du Parlement, and Place Gambetta.
Also in the vicinity is Café des Moines (12 Rue Menuts), a great place with a wide selection of beers and wines, and live music nearly every night. Nearby is Au Chat qui Peche (50 Cours de la Marne), something of a speakeasy where they play live music of jazz, rock and blues until midnight. However, the place is almost always packed until 4 or 5 a.m.
Bordeaux’s nightlife has a funky sophistication and its own chic that cannot be compared with Paris. Really, Bordeaux is the center of the world in wine commerce. These Frenchies know how to drink, and they know the quality of what they drink.
But don’t think you won’t be able to find a beer in this city: the Chartrons district has a rich Irish history, and there are plenty of Irish and British Pubs, such as The Cambridge Arms (27 Rue Rodé). At Connemara (14-18 Cours d’Albre), one can enjoy open-mic nights, karaoke, games and good pub food.
If gambling, drinking, dining and people-watching is more your ticket, then check out the Casino de Bordeaux, in the Hotel Sofitel Bordeaux Lac (rue Cardinal Richaud). If anything, the free admission is great if all you want to do is have a look around. To enter the formal gaming rooms, you will have to present your passport or identity card. Usually Fridays around 8 p.m. there is live entertainment. A brasserie on the street level is informal and has a fixed price menu of 25€. The restaurant above has menus beginning at 35€.
Or, if you’re the cultured type, a play or an opera at the Grand Theatre, place de la Comedie, could start your evening. Formal attire is required, and the cheapest tickets are best bought in advance. If jazz is what your soul is feeling, head over to Le Comptoir (14 Rue Temple), which is located near Gare St. Jean. For sure, this club attracts the 30-something crowd who have a taste for a little more sophistication and less wildness.
If you are looking to schmooze and network while listening to good music, Chez Pom-Pom (4 Cours Verdun ) is respectable, if not charming. The loud music and close space will lead to intimate conversations with handsome strangers (only the good looking people seem to go here).
Place Camile Julian is where the entertainment is, though. Cinema Utopia is “the best thing since sliced bread!” says an English teaching assistant living in Bordeaux.
If you are interested in salsa dancing, head to La Casa Latina Bar (59 Quai Chartrons ) in the Chartons. Another trendier bar is L’Absolute Lounge (rue de la Devise). There, you will be able to twist and shake to merengue and bachata, and occasionally enjoy live electro-jazz concerts.
Along the quai du Paludate or the old abandoned Wet Docks (Bassins-a-Flots), night owls can hibernate in bars and clubs until the early morning while listening to techno dance beats.
Iboat (Bassin à flot n°1, Quai Armand Laland) is located along Bassin-a-Flots with other major nightclub players like Pier 6 Deck (Rue Lucien Faure, Bassin à flot n°2), Dame de Shanghai (1 Quai Armand Lalande ) and Ice Room (19 Quai de Bacalan). Be prepared for a selective bouncer who will judge you on your guy-to-girl ratio and heel size. This is a crowd of 20-somethings in their first professional jobs or blowing off some end-of-the-week university steam.
As the parties end and dawn breaks across the quai, be certain to make one of your final stops at a street kebab stand, a portable late night food perfect for sharing with friends. Or if you feel like lingering, rest a little at a smaller café. If there’s anything the French know better than their food and wine, it is their coffee. And after a night of dancing, drinking, singing and dancing some more, a fresh cup of coffee and some talk will begin your Sunday morning.
(Images are original photography for Blast. Image credits: JenniferRose Photography; model, Alena Karabina; hair and makeup by Janeen Jones; styling by Nicoletta Marie Lyons; clothing provided by Conrad Lamour).