Bordeaux wine museum – La Cité du Vin

Bordeaux wine museum - La Cité du Vin - exterior

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As soon as I heard about the existence of a wine museum in France I knew I had to visit. Wine and I have been getting along just fine for a couple of decades now. In fact I think we have grown up together. Gone are the student days where I glugged down Beaujolais Nouveau or a dirt cheap Sauvignon Blanc. These days I like to savour and appreciate subtle flavours and understand the history and story behind the wine I drink.

Over the years I have visited many wine regions around the world and learnt about the process of wine making and the importance of terroir. I thought my wine knowledge was sound. Could a wine museum be the ultimate education on all things wine?

The ultimate wine experience – the wine museum in Bordeaux

Creative design elements at Bordeaux wine museum - La Cité du Vin

Bordeaux is the spiritual home of wine in France, a country whose culture is inextricably linked to the production and enjoyment of wine. So it is not surprising that La Cité du Vin is more than a museum. It is a celebration and interactive experience exploring all aspects of wine – from the history of winemaking to the processes involved and its place in cultures around the world and especially in France.

Opened in June 2016 the building itself is an ode to wine. Designed by architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, both the exterior and interior of the building takes inspiration from the history, properties and experience of wine. The distinctive exterior represents wine swirling in a carafe or glass.

We explored the permanent exhibition on our visit but there are seasonal exhibitions and events on throughout the year.

Permanent exhibition highlights

On entering the second floor exhibition area you are presented with a headset and multi media guide that you use to interact with the displays. We had a few small issues getting used to how the technology worked but there were plenty of staff on hand to assist.

Each display has been thoughtfully curated – a fascinating mix of old and new techniques. I liked the use of puppets in the ‘All aboard!’ animation exploring the export of wine around the world. Testing our sense of smell in the ‘Buffet of 5 Senses’ was a clever way to introduce the concept of aromas and perception of taste and smell.

Sweeping views of the famous wine regions of the world

Explore the world's wine regions at La Cité du Vin

Meeting the winemakers and learning their stories

Meet the wine makers at Bordeaux's La Cité du Vin

Mixing historic art and new technology

Interesting curation using old and new techniques at La Cité du Vin Bordeaux

Trading ships ahoy! We felt like we were right on deck

Feel like you are on a ship at La Cité du Vin

Putting our sense of smell to the test

Museum of wine Bordeaux - sensory experience

The dangers of drinking to excess

Bordeaux wine museum - dark side of drinking

Practical information

La Cité du Vin is located at 134-150 Quai de Bacalan 1, esplanade de Pontac, Bordeaux. It is an easy 10 minute tram ride from the centre of Bordeaux on line B.

Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, closed Christmas and New Year’s days with extended hours during summer.

Tickets are €20 for adults and include a glass of wine. Discounts apply for concessions. Children under 6 free.

Free lockers are available for a €1 refundable deposit

For more information visit La Cité du Vin website

Visiting La Cité du Vin with children

Perhaps the most surprising thing for me was how much our 3 year old twins enjoyed their visit. We came armed with all sorts of other distractions in the event they got bored (as 3 year olds tend to do) but we didn’t use them.

La Cité du Vin has put a lot of thought into how to educate the wine drinkers of the future. There is a separate audio guide for children and some exhibits are deliberately aimed at a younger audience.

La Cité du Vin Bordeaux popular with children and adults

Even some exhibits that were not specifically designed for children were popular. The use of augmented reality technology transformed a theaterette into a “pirate ship” and they loved discovering the aromas of various substances in “The buffet of the five senses” section of the exhibition. Older children will be interested in all the different ways technology is used throughout the exhibition which I think is fascinating in itself.

The final word on visiting La Cité du Vin

Bordeaux’s wine museum is a great experience for wine, culture, design and history lovers . The ticket price is a little expensive however I think there is plenty of value to be had exploring the permanent exhibition and beyond. The entry price also includes a glass of wine.

We visited La Cité du Vin for over 2.5 hours and were unfortunately not able to visit the temporary exhibition or the Belvedere viewing platform before closing time. I would allow at least 3 hours for the full experience.

A wall of wine at Bordeaux's La Cité du Vin

On the way out you must visit the incredible wine store – ‘La Cave’. This circular room is cladded in a 2 storey wall of wine from all over the world right the way round its circumference. Over 14,000 bottles are held at La Cave – a wine lovers dream.

La Cité du Vin is more than a museum of wine – it is a truly interactive experience. If you are visiting Bordeaux you most likely have more than a passing interest in wine. I guarantee you will learn something new or become inspired to visit new wine regions after a visit to La Cité du Vin.  Bring the kids along too and hopefully the museum will inspire them to a more refined palate than my student tastes.

As for me, my love affair with all things French, and especially wine, continues after experiencing the ultimate wine education in Bordeaux.

Bordeaux | France - The ultimate wine education in Bordeaux - La Cité du Vin is Bordeaux's brand new museum and interactive experience exploring the history, culture and production of wine. Click through to read about this fascinating wine experience

Disclosure – I was kindly given a complimentary ticket to La Cité du Vin. All opinions are my own and honest. Please review my disclosure page for more information.

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47 thoughts on “Bordeaux wine museum – La Cité du Vin

  1. Kavey F says:

    Ooh now that museum looks like something my husband would love. We went to Bordeaux before and spent a couple of weeks there attending a French language school in the mornings and heading out to explore the city and wider region in the afternoons and weekends. We really loved the food and wine of the region, and I can see that this museum will really help visitors to learn and get so much more out of their visit. Shall have to add a return visit to the travel wishlist!

    • Katy says:

      What an amazing experience! Lucky you. I found the Bordelaise very friendly people and thought the Chartrons market was fantastic. Hope you make it back there soon.

  2. feetdotravel says:

    A wine museum? I’ve died and gone to heaven! Whilst there, I hope it means I can drink wine again, you see we used to be friends then fell out, wine didn’t like me anymore but I still longed after it like a lost puppy would pine over their owner. Sad really, but in the meantime this place is definitely somewhere I would love to visit – it looks so cool, there is even the use of puppets?! I’m sorry though, I couldn’t pop to the wine store with all those thousands of bottles of wine, I would be drooling and security would have to remove me. As you can tell, I loved this post and have enjoyed a glass vicariously through your visit so thank you 🙂 #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      Oh no! The wine problem has happened to a few people I know. Some say it is do with the sulphates in the new world wines. Australian wines are usually quite a bit higher in alcohol compared with French wine too. The museum is well worth a visit. The only place I have seen technology implemented as well in a cultural setting was the MONA art gallery in Hobart, Australia. Cheers to you too!

  3. Phoebe | Lou Messugo says:

    When this opened last summer it was heralded as a wine theme park but the way you describe it sounds so much better. I never could quite grasp how it could work as a “parc d’attractions” (I had visions of rollercoasters of wine!!) It does sound amazing though and I’m dying to get there. Despite living in France for pushing 20 years I’m still a very unsophisticated wine drinker – I love most wines (though I’m not good with French whites!) Perhaps this will make me a more discerning drinker…? Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance, so glad you got a little France fix which you were able to share with us!

    • Katy says:

      It’s very cleverly done Phoebe. I saw those click bait articles too but could never reconcile that with my knowledge French culture. There are some extremely French approaches to how they cover the impact of wine on culture and the touchy subject of addiction. A lot of thought went into the whole experience and it really shows. Hope you visit there soon.

  4. Trish @ Mum's Gone To says:

    A wine museum – tick! A funky modern building – tick! Sniffing wine – tick! Drinking wine – tick!
    Sounds a great day out. We once did some vodka-sniffing in Stockholm – I lie this kind of experience.

  5. Allison says:

    I made a personal choice not to drink but I do think that it is interesting that wine and the making of wine has such a long history. And the process of making wine is also interesting to me. And the architecture of the building is pretty awesome, I must admit. #farawayfiles

    • Katy says:

      I think it is worth a visit even if you dont drink because as you pointed out the history of wine making is very important in French culture and particularly to this region of France. I loved learning about the local techniques refined over 1000s of years.

  6. Clare Thomson says:

    I absolutely love the architecture of the building – so beautiful and stylish – and I love the sound of the interactiveness of this museum. I’m a dedicated wine lover but would very much like to know more about the wine I enjoy so this sort of experience would be ideal. Fantastic that it’s so family-friendly too. #FarawayFiles

  7. Ruth says:

    The exterior of this building is amazing. I am happy to know the interior is equally stunning and the exhibits good. Sometimes, buildings are a work of art but the inside is lackluster. I am glad this is the best of both words. #FarawayFiles

  8. Kat @anaussieinsf says:

    Now that’s a country that takes their wine seriously. I’ve been on lots of brewery tours but never to a wine museum, although I’m not a big drinker. Even the architecture is amazing here though. #FarawayFiles

  9. MummyTravels says:

    I read about this around the time it opened and it sounds fantastic, so much thought has gone into making it really interactive – and I never say no to learning more about wine. And testing that knowledge out in somewhere like Bordeaux! #citytripping

  10. Tracy Collins says:

    This sounds like my sort of place! (Hubby needs the whisky equivalent lol!) The building looks stunning and it sounds so interesting! And a glass of wine too! And all those bottles of wine in La Cave? Yep i might need more than 3 hours! #farawayfiles

  11. fifi + hop says:

    I’ve been looking forward to reading all about this ever since your IG post! Looks amazing and how great that they have kids-oriented activities. Yet another reason to go to Bordeaux. #farawayfiles

  12. emilycommander says:

    What a beautiful building! It’s great that they have started indoctrinating children too. #AllAboutFrance

    • Katy says:

      I love the French approach that wine is something to be enjoyed slowly and not guzzled. So happy for my kids to be indoctrinated with that culture 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Emily

  13. Kat says:

    Wow, this is the first time I come across a wine museum. I drink wine but am not a wine connoisseur – don’t know much about wine. As long as it tastes good, I’m fine with it, LOL! I would love to visit this wine museum some day. P.S. I love the architecture of the museum building too 🙂 #farawayfiles

  14. Ali May says:

    You’ve just filled me with jealousy and yet created a new purpose for saving cash. I must experience this place. My husband and I would love it, and your comments about how much your 3 year old kids enjoyed the visit, makes me want to fly out of Australia right NOW. #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      I was quite surprised at how kid friendly the museum was but really they did an excellent job of catering for all types of audiences. Over the weekend in Bordeaux we found out that many many Australians visit there. I never really thought about it but Melbourne and Adelaide especially have so many great wineries close by you do end up knowing quite a lot about wine without even trying too hard.

  15. differentshoresblog says:

    That definitely looks like something me and my husband would enjoy – he’s a wine fanatic. I’m very bad at not going to museums, but this one I wouldn’t skip: I admit I need educating about wine as I tend to stick to Pinot Grigio (terrible admission). I also love the French approach to drinking. I hate how we English fill our plant pot-sized glasses to the brim and glug it warm (or is that just the people I know) – heathens. #FarawayFiles

  16. Elizabeth says:

    A wine museum? Sign me up for that tour! The smelling tubes (I don’t know what to call them) look really interesting. I’m rubbish at smelling the different notes, but it would be fun to try! #farawayfiles

    • Katy says:

      The sniffing station was incredible Elizabeth. They had managed to capture the essence of so many different objects – even some buttery French biscuits. It’s such a clever exhibition

  17. aandj8804 says:

    This sounds like an interesting experience. How do you keep the audio guide in your 3 year old’s hand though? … And keep them listening? I feel like most kids I’ve seen would get bored listening, drop the guide, etc, etc…

    At least you were able to explore the museum in peace! It’s great that they offer ways to keep the kids entertained! #farawayfiles

    • Katy says:

      Great question Mandy. The multimedia guides are on a lanyard that hangs around your neck. My kids had more trouble with the headphones but as they dont get too much screen time at home they thought it was all a bit of a treat. All the exhibits are different too so they were interacting with all their senses. Therefore less chance to get bored!

  18. Richard says:

    I really enjoyed reading this! We went to the Cité du Vin in September after a memorable evening out in St Emilion, and you capture the experience very well. We’ve often poked fun at some of the “pretentious” descriptions used in wine reviews — “notes of pencil lead underlying traces of saddle leather”, for example. But the “sniffing room” in the Cité du Vin was a real revelation — I really COULD see how those subtle odors enter into the overall experience of a good wine. Our only complaint about the museum was that you have to catch some of the animated exhibits just as they are starting up, or hang around for several minutes to see the next session — but that’s minor in such an interesting and useful place! Thanks for writing about it.

    • Katy says:

      Thanks so much Richard. Your visit to the Bordeaux region sounds wonderful. We also had a few small issues with the technology at the museum but overall got a lot of help from the staff and enjoyed the experience. I’d like to have dinner in the panoramic dining room if we visit again.

  19. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad says:

    Wow, the architecture of that building is stunning. It looks like it’s all been really well done, lots of interactive exhibits and something for everyone. You can always trust the French to do wine related things well!

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Rachel, I thought the architecture was great too. So much thought and consideration went into the design both inside and outside the building and it is a true temple to wine.

  20. Juliette | Snorkels To Snow says:

    This looks so awesome! I love that you could smell the different aromas through those big tubes that look the end of a trumpet. A really fantastic way to learn more about wine & you’ll no doubt appreciate every glass a little more from this point on! My brother-in-law is a winemaker so I’ve been very fortunate to learn about all the processes from grape to glass – he would love this place! #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      Our kids loved the smelling section and so did I Juliette. The whole museum is so wonderfully curated that the exhibits would appeal to people with a wide range of knowledge about wine. Well worth a visit, thank you!

  21. WanderMum says:

    This sounds right up my street. Wine, educational, wine, good for kids, wine, great architecture, wine. We are off to Bordeaux next year so this is getting visited! Thanks for linking #citytripping

  22. Italian Kiwi says:

    What a gorgeous museum! Lovely photos! If you ever happen to be in Northern Italy, go to the wine museum in Barolo. It’s very similar to this one by the look of it. I will definitely go to this one whenever I make it to Bordeaux!

    • Katy says:

      thanks so much! Not that I ever need an excuse to go to Northern Italy but this sounds like a perfect one. Am googling frantically now. Thanks for letting me in on that secret

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