Many of the city’s residents pulled their livelihood from the waters of the river and in turn honored the saint believed to protect them. His name was Saint Pierre, the one many know as Simon Peter the fisherman and apostle of Jesus.
Nestled in the heart of Bordeaux lies the aptly-named Saint Pierre historical quarter. While the area was originally constituted of marshes and tall grasses, in the XIIth century the harbor was dried and filled. In this place, the Saint Pierre quarter was built, including houses for the Bordelais, decorated with the finest French architecture of moldings, sculptures, stone balconies and wrought iron. The docks and quays were still needed to service the river, but they were relocated south to the mouth of the Peugue at the foot of the Palais de l’Ombrière.
The Eglise de Saint Pierre, built in the XVth and XVIth centuries, rests on the site of the former Gallo-Roman port that brought the city its renown. Opening out in front of the church is the Place de Saint Pierre, built to meet the economic, administrative and religious needs of the Bordeaux residents.
In the XVIIIth century, the Intendants Boucher and Tourny changed the face of Bordeaux, and its future. By destroying a medieval wall along the district edge, they opened the Saint Pierre quarter to the rest of the city. Their design included the Place Royale, now Place de la Bourse, and the Rue Royale, now Rue Fernand Philippart. These connected to the Place du Marché Royal, now Place du Parlement, built in 1754.
Today’s Saint Pierre quarter is still lined with the Louis XV residences. Picturesque streets wind through the city’s culinary capital revealing restaurants to suit every taste and treats for the most refined palates. The Place du Parlement is home to wonderful architecture, a decorative neo-renaissance fountain, and many bars and restaurants with open-air terraces, perfect for a late-afternoon drink in summer.
To take a self-guided walking tour, begin at the Place de la Bourse, at the foot of the Fountain of the Three Graces. Take the Rue Philippart until you reach the Place du Parlement. Next, take the Rue du Parlement St. Pierre to the historic center of the city and Saint Pierre Eglise.
St Pierre Market
Bordeaux counts more than 20 markets, open-air and covered, reaching into every city district and bring a variety of offerings to the Bordelais shoppers. The market held in front of Saint Pierre church is the leading organic market with a 20-year history of bringing naturally cultivated produce to old Bordeaux. The increased appetite for the organic market, once considered alternative but now mainstream, is evident at the bustling market at Place Saint Pierre every Thursday from 5 am to 5 pm.
The Bordeaux Tourism Office welcomes you for morning walking tours of the city featuring the facades of the major monuments, with opportunities to go inside and visit part of the interior. To give you a taste, here are a few of the many and varied tours available.
- The Great Theater, 1773-1780, is a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture, built by Victor Louis. Tours are available by appointment for a cost of 5,20 euros. Participants meet at the Grand Théâtre, Place de la Comédie.
- Tutored tasting of Bordeaux wines are offered by the Tourism Office on Thursdays through March 31 beginning at 16h30. The wines tasting includes a gourmet snack, blind tasting, and aroma game. The cost is 21 euros.
- Discover Bordeaux by boat tour daily until March 31. Enjoy superb views of the city riverfront and leisure area from the Pont de Pierre to the Pont d'Aquitaine.Tourism Office in Town Centre, 12 cours du XXX Juillet, 33080 Bordeaux Cedex
Tourism Office at the Gare St Jean Station, Rue Ch. Domercq, Esplanade arrivée, 33800 Bordeaux
Website: www.bordeaux-tourisme.com (English available)
Restaurants in St Pierre
Restaurant la Terrasse Saint Pierre
7 place Saint Pierre
Tel : 05 57 85 89 17
Le Jardin des Gastronomes
1 place St Pierre
Tel: 05 57 85 90 35
Le Grilladin Saint Pierre
5 place St Pierre
Tel: 05 56 52 42 74
3 place St Pierre
Tel : 05 56 51 02 75
6-8 rue Mérignac
Tel : 05 56 44 00 19
36 rue du Parlement St Pierre
Tel: 05 56 44 86 67
By Kari Masson, a freelance writer for travel, cross-cultural, and expatriate-focused publications. More than 50 of her articles have appeared in North America, Europe, and Africa. If you are looking to add dynamic creativity to your publication, contact Kari at