Learn French in… Bordeaux

cultural visits | destinations tips | organizing trips

In the series “learn French in…”, Vacances Actives Linguistiques takes you to the destination of good living par excellence, where gastronomy and wine combine perfectly around a festive table: it’s Bordeaux! The Gironde metropolis has been on the rise for several years, notably with the inclusion of its urban centre and the Port de la Lune as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, and the opening of the Cité du Vin in 2016. 

Learn French… without moderation!

It is a city praised for its very pleasant living environment, between vineyards, river and ocean, 2 hours by train from the Parisian capital and with an airport located 10km from the city centre.
Very attractive, it is also very young with no less than four large campuses in the metropolis, and it welcomes nearly 90,000 students. Everything is in place to welcome our French as a Foreign Language learners for an optimal language study holiday in Bordeaux!

Ready to wander the Bordeaux wedges (the ceramic cobblestones of Gironde streets), to immerse yourself in the world capital of wine, and to learn French without moderation?

Bordeaux destination sejour linguistique en francais - tramway

Learn French in Bordeaux fashion

In Bordeaux, the French language is spoken in accelerated mode; the words are pronounced at high speed with a small Gascon accent which shows that the South is near. You will learn to punctuate your sentences not with swear words like in Marseille, but with the interjection “gavé”, used as a superlative (“gavé bien”, “gavé bon”, “gavé sympa”, “gavé beau”) and others “ça daille” (it sucks)…

One way to discover Bordeaux by mixing history and literature is to follow in the footsteps of the philosophers and great travellers who have marked the history of the city of Bordeaux. 

Michel de Montaigne - Bordeaux - sejour-linguistique-en-francais

Montaigne, a Bordelais philosopher and traveler

One way to discover Bordeaux by mixing history and literature is to follow in the footsteps of the philosophers and great travellers who have marked the history of the city of Bordeaux.

Starting with Michel de Montaigne, literary genius and philosopher (he was educated at the College of Guyenne in the Saint Paul district, a major centre of Bordeaux humanism) then advisor to the Parliament of Bordeaux. The author of the Essays became Mayor of Bordeaux in 1581 (against his will! While he was on an exploration trip in Italy… ah! Trips…). Michel de Montaigne’s cenotaph is preciously preserved at the Aquitaine Museum in Bordeaux, a must visit to learn all about the history of the city and its region.

chateau-la-brede-montesquieu sejour-linguistique-en-francais-a-Bordeaux

Montesquieu, philosopher and vineyard owner in Bordeaux

150 years later, Montesquieu takes up the torch as President of the Parliament of Bordeaux. The philosopher of the Encyclopaedia and author of Persian Letters was married in the Basilica of Saint Michel, and lived in several residences in Bordeaux, including one now occupied by the largest independent bookstore in Europe: the Mollat ​​bookstore rue Porte Dijeau. And to follow in the footsteps of the great thinker of the Enlightenment outside Bordeaux, you can visit the Château de la Brède, wine property of the Montesquieu family.

An exceptional stay in the heart of a dazzling architecture

Saint André Cathedral in Bordeaux, facing the Palais Rohan – Hôtel de Ville, is a key stage in discovering the city. It was there that Aliénor d’Aquitaine married Louis VII and became Queen of France in 1137. Bordeaux: royal city! 

The majesty of Bordeaux is expressed above all at Place de la Bourse, a royal square from the 18th century, open to the Garonne, featuring splendid stone facades, and decorated with the famous mascarons, sculptures depicting characters, fantastic animals, female figures, faces of the carnival, which can be found on the facades of opulent residences in Bordeaux.

Cathedrale-saint-andre - sejour-linguistique-en-francais-a-Bordeaux

The square is all the more famous now that we find its reflection in the Miroir D’eau, a granite mirror on the ground where the mirror effect alternates over 2cm of water, and the fog effect thanks to a light mist rising to over 2m high. Enough to freshen the air, and organize a photo shoot to immortalize this language travel in a magical and world-famous setting. 

The visit of Bordeaux can continue with a stroll on the quays, on foot, by bike or by segway: the place has been specially designed for pedestrians and cyclists! The transformation of Bordeaux and the redevelopment of the Garonne quays have made them a great place, which is very appreciable for our students and foreign travellers!

quais de Bordeaux - destination sejour linguistique

Learning French in the contemporary Bordeaux

Bordeaux has recently opened up new spaces that are both contemporary and alternative, dedicated to art, creativity, social economy and solidarity. 

Oustanding submarine base

Students will be amazed by the visit to the Bassins à Flots submarine base. A submarine base built by the Germans in 1941. This site steeped in history now hosts a cultural space and the remarkable Bassins de Lumières.

Street art and alternative places in Bordeaux

Cross the spectacular new Chaban Delmas Bridge, and join the Darwin space on the Right Bank of the Garonne, a vast barracks rehabilitated into a place of creative economy and business incubator, which has become known in particular for its large skate park designed and built with recycled materials by the young skaters themselves. An original and lively place for a French course against a giant graffiti background!

To the delight of students on language travels in Bordeaux, the visit can follow a route linking the most beautiful works of street art, very expressive in these areas of the city.

Street art à Bordeaux

A language stay in the world wine capital

Even if French language learners are not yet old enough to taste the aromas of wine, there is so much to discover around the fascinating world of wine like the Quartier des Chartrons in Bordeaux with its houses and shops with vaulted ceilings, installed in the old cellars. The Cité du Vin, contemporary temple of wines from around the world, allows you to learn everything about the history of wine, geography, landscapes, techniques, aromas, colours, in a fun course full of experiences for all ages! And for adults, tasting is essential!


For a very tasty language travel

bordeaux-canneles traditionnels

“You can overindulge only in good things” (The Essays.)  

That is well said Mr. Montaigne. And there are many good things abound in Bordeaux

This is an opportunity to work on your French culinary vocabulary! And it is much easier to learn Molière’s language with a full stomach…

What is the city’s sweet specialty? Bordeaux cannelé! Very fragrant little cake that takes its name from the fluted copper mold which gives it its original shape. The cannelé is a small well of history, because it is composed of ingredients from the triangular trade, at the time of the colonies where all kinds of products passed through the Port de la Lune: rhum, vanilla, cane sugar, etc. 

Another source of energy for our French as a Foreign Language learners: the Dunes Blanches, little puff with whipped cream, ultra light like the air of Cap Ferret, where they were created. 

If you prefer savoury things, it’s hard to miss a platter of fresh oysters from the Arcachon Bay, accompanied by buttered bread: a unique experience for the palates of our foreign students (beware of the grimace)!

A culinary journey in French in the “ventre (Stomach or inside) de Bordeaux”!

Emile Zola could have romanticized to perfection the hyperactive and gourmet life of the Marché Couvert des Capucins, in the Saint Michel district of Bordeaux. This historic market is an invitation to tasting, in a good mood and a popular atmosphere. Foreign visitors will appreciate this must-do to meet the cosmopolitan crowd, taste local specialties or world cuisine, grab a platter of oysters on the fly or bite into a cannelé after a good coffee.

Arcachon, Saint Emilion, Dordogne, La Rochelle … for a long summer school

It is difficult to leave Bordeaux without going through emblematic places located a few minutes away from the city. Groups of travellers who will take the time to learn and discover Aquitaine will be able to appreciate the panoramas over the vineyards from the perched village of Saint-Émilion, the outlook on the estuary from the Citadel of Blaye, or the wide-open ocean at the top of the Dune du Pilat. Between Arcachon Bay and the ocean, there are plenty of opportunities to taste some seafood and cycle along the Atlantic Coast for example! 

Beyond the Gironde borders, other tourist stops are worth a detour for our students: the Dordogne and its thousand castles, or the Port of La Rochelle and its majestic boats.

village de saint emilion proche bordeaux
bassin d'arcachon proche bordeaux

We do not know what is holding you back from organizing your language study holiday to Bordeaux!

Your students will be more than delighted to learn French and to spend a holiday in this dynamic and exciting city. 

Are you a French as a Foreign Language teacher? Do you want to organize a language stay in the metropolis of Aquitaine? 

Vacances Actives Linguistiques, your language travel agency in France, organizes the entire trip and French courses in Bordeaux and the region, through a tourist circuit between châteaux and huts on stilts! Discover our holiday offers here.

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