One of the many reasons to visit the French city of Bordeaux is to enjoy the wine. If you are a fan of French wine, new to wines or just trying to learn more about wines, a visit to La Cite du Vin will further your knowledge.
Often referred to as the Musee du Vin, or Museum of Wine, or the City of Wine, the Cite du Vin museum opened in June 2016 and has been growing in popularity since. It’s been described as a museum and a theme park for wine lovers.
What to Expect when Visiting Cite Du Vin
Offering a high-tech immersion into wines from around the world, Cite du Vin is not a museum in the classical sense of the word with exhibits. Instead it aims to immerse you in a journey of the senses of wine through the ages. You can smell the flavors, see the landscapes, hear the growers and viniculturists talk about some of the world’s great wine regions, and enjoy a wine tasting on the wrap around balcony with views over the River Garonne and Bordeaux.
And if you want to take wine home with you the ground floor features a shop selling wines and wine accessories and books from around the world. It is quite impressive!
To see the building itself is worth the trip to the Cite Du Vin. The architects for Cite du Vin, the Paris firm. XTU Architects, designed the building to resemble the swirl of wine in a glass. Costing over 80 million euros to build, the Cite du Vin, is sure to become one of the iconic buildings of Bordeaux.
The Exhibits at La Cite du Vin
A visit to the City of Wine, journeys through all aspects of the wine global industry. This is not a showcase of French or Bordeaux wines, it is a look at wine culture and civilization through the ages.
As you begin your journey, the first of 19 permanent exhibits, “The World Wine Tour” is a visual journey across the worlds wine regions. Featuring spectacular scenery of wine regions and vineyards across the world, this video, highlights some of the areas you can learn more about during your visit to Cite du Vin. It is a great start to your visit.
Audio tours are available in 10 languages. At the beginning of your visit you are issued an audio guide, set to the language of your choice, which resembles a mobile phone. You can “scan” various exhibits to begin the audio on your personal headset.
Learning More about Wine at La Cite Du Vin
The “Worlds of Wine” shows and tells the spread of wine across the world. It highlights the trade routes that led to the development of viticulture across the world.
Most people spend 2-3 hours in Musee du Vin, but exhibits like “The Terroir Table”, mean you could spend much longer. This exhibit features various wine growing regions from around the world. For each region 4-5 people who work in the wine industry speak about the region, the terroir, and their role in wine production. Each of these talks lasts several minutes. You can do the math, 20-30 minutes per region, by 7-8 regions, you can spend your three hours in this one area of the exhibit!
“Wine Portraits” looks at six major families of wine- dry white, red, rosé, sparkling, fortified and sweet, and the characteristics each style shares in an interactive display. The wooden wine bottles house the display.
Several of the exhibits feature hi-tech videos taking you on journeys over water, and through past civilizations to learn more about the role wine has played in trade and culture.
“The Buffet of the Five Senses” exhibit focuses on the smells, tastes, and words used to describe wine. You can learn more about the textures of wine, how wine is often described and smell the common flavors associated with wine.
The final two exhibits in the permanent exhibit look at Bordeaux and how the wine industry has developed and shaped the culture of Bordeaux. You will learn about the highs and lows of the industry wine industry and how Bordeaux became famous for its wine.
Depending on the ticket you purchase, a wine tasting is included. This is in the Belvedere, the glass walled, wine and event space at the top of the Cite du Vin. There is a full wrap around balcony and you can go outside to enjoy some fantastic views and photos of Bordeaux.
Planning Your Visit to the Cite du Vin
Due to the interactive nature of the exhibits, it does get busy and crowded in the exhibit. At the time of our visit there were also several exhibits or displays that were having “technical difficulties” and were not available or not working correctly.
People advise you to go early to avoid congested times during the day. We went shortly after it opened at 10 am, and It was already busy.
The guideline of 2-3 hours for a visit was about right for us. As mentioned above, if you are seriously interested in wine, you could easily spend all day here to see everything.
Food & Beverage at Cite Du Vin
A wine tasting in Cite du Vin’s event space, The Belvedere, ends most visits. The 20-euro ticket includes a glass of wine of your choice from the selection. You can ask questions and learn about the wines, then select one to enjoy.
Also on The Belvedere is the wrap around viewing platform offering spectacular views over the River Garonne, the Aquitaine Bridge and Bordeaux. On a clear day the views are spectacular.
Many of the wine workshops and evening events are held here.
Le 7 Restaurant
The Michelin award winning, Cite Du Vin restaurant, Le 7, located just below The Belvedere and providing the same excellent views as the viewing platform above features a wine list of over 500 bottles from over 50 global wine regions and a seasonal menu.
To access Le 7 Restaurant make a reservation ahead of time or you may get lucky and get in on the day, you can check at the information desk on the ground floor. Le 7 Restaurant is open from 10 am to 11 pm daily, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all day.
This wine and snack bar is located on the ground floor and offers a relaxed atmosphere. Latitude 20 is open 10 am to 7 pm daily.
Cite du Vin Opening Hours
Opening Hours for the Cite Du Vin are from 10 am to 7 pm daily.
Special events are held regularly at the venue- check the website for details and to make event or restaurant reservations.
Tickets for Cite du Vin
Several ticket options allow for flexibility when visiting. The entry level Cite du Vin ticket is 20 euros or about $23 USD, that includes the exhibits and wine tasting in the Belvedere, the wine tasting and exhibit space, on the 8th floor.
You can also purchase combination tickets which include workshops or the special exhibits. Tickets can be purchased online at the Cite di Vin website.
Another option for entry to the City of Wine, is the Bordeaux CityPass. The card includes entry to Cite du Vin (before noon or there is a 5-euro charge), and public transportation for the duration of your pass (24,48,72 hours). The Bordeaux CityPass provide access to a range of museums and activities in Bordeaux.
Getting to the City of Wine
Getting to Cite du Vin is easy. The tram line B runs directly to City du Vin from the city center. You can also arrive by boat using the tourist river shuttle. Or, you can cycle, take the bus or drive. Paid parking is also available.
If you purchase the Bordeaux CItyPass, travelling by public transportation is included in the pass.
For more information check the City of Wine website.
Enjoy Musee du Vin
Special thanks to Bordeaux Tourism and Conventions for arranging
a Bordeaux CityPass for our visit.