Are you already familiar with an apéro concept? I personally love this idea. Dinner starts quite late in France, typically around 7-8 pm. People get hungry before then, so they would take a glass of wine with friends or colleagues, and may or may not go elsewhere for a sit-down dinner afterward.
Bordeaux has a lively bar scene which you have to experience at least once. Preferably, choose a day between Tuesday and Saturday as many bars are closed on Sunday and Monday nights.
Go for apero around 6 pm to 7 pm.
In my opinion, the main criteria in choosing a venue for an apero is the place where you mix with the local crowd, so you want a really crowded and noisy place for that.
This isn’t a place with the high-end bars, but a nice square to take some evening sun and enjoy people-watching in a happy student atmosphere. Choose any crowded bar and order a pint or a glass of wine. Wine choices are somewhat limited. It is typically from Bordeaux or from southwest of France, just a house red or white. Beer might be a better choice at these places. Check out the Happy Hour offers on a blackboard. What surprises me is that Happy Hour is the same word in English and in French! Another thing I noticed is that in these crowded bars there is no requirement to order food with your drink, and that is why they are always full.
Beautiful square with the 15th-century gate, Porte Cailhau. This place is up and coming. There are a new artisanal beer bar and a new wine bar popular with young crowds. Bars here offer a good selection of drinks. You may have to order appetizers which typically is a meat platter or a cheese platter to share.
Not strictly a square but a street connecting two squares in quartier Saint-Pierre and my favorite street to go out. A few nice wine and cocktail bars and a great city atmosphere. Check out bars with oenomatic machines dispensing high-quality wines (Le Vertige or the neighboring Au 4 Coins du Vin).
Finally, I don’t recommend Place du Parliament or the square near the Grand Theatre for a drink as I find them to be quite tourist-oriented.
The apero etiquette is that you grab a table without waiting to be seated and sip a pint of beer or a bottle of wine all night. Beware of many smokers on the terraces. While English and Irish pubs tend to only offer service at a counter, French bars still offer table service, however, you still need to pay inside.
Have fun in Bordeaux!
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