A cinema in an old church, a warehouse converted into a cooperative garage, a concert-boat – Bordeaux is full of unusual venues that can easily slip by unnoticed should you be exploring its streets for the first time. To discover them, take the time to venture into the suburbs far from the touristy city centre.

The Bastide neighbourhood...


This old military wasteland, formerly called the Niel barracks, is now the home of a highly unusual ecological/creative congregation. Code named Darwin, its enormous, beautifully renovated buildings are home to a mixture of offices, a co-working platform, organic shop, skate park, canteen and a hotel – the quintessence of creativity in a stunning site.

La Chiffonne Rit

A cooperative of artists and artisans, La Chiffonne Rit, has taken up abode in this corrugated iron hangar, formerly a garage, on a peaceful street lined in characteristic one-storey 19C Bordeaux houses, known as échoppes. Blacksmiths and fashion designers rub shoulders with graphic artists, upholsterers and a light fixture creator who uses salvaged materials. A delightful DIY ambience reigns throughout the premises, which are open to the public with the added bonus of a small café at the front.

Bacalan neighbourhood...

Les Vivres de l'Art

Bordeaux artist Jean-François Buisson has not only set up his metal sculpting workshop in the warehouses where the Navy used to store fresh produce in the 18th century, but has also opened a creative platform where other artists are invited to display their work, in addition to a cultural and festive venue. All of which is contributing to the revival of the harbour district, abandoned for many years, but now rising from its ashes.

The Modern Garage

This sprawling warehouse is now home to a mechanics workshop where you can learn how to repair your own car or bicycle! The unusual vocation and its striking beauty make it highly popular with artists and the general public and concerts, readings and performances are often staged here throughout the year.

Submarine base

This is probably Bordeaux’ most unusual exhibition venue! The massive concrete structure was built by the Nazis in World War II to house German submarines. Many of Bordeaux’ citizens wanted it to be torn down after the war, but it is still there and has now become a regular venue for photography exhibitions.


Opened by the successful Parisian Batofar team, a genuine lighthouse-boat moored by the Seine on Quai François Mauriac, which rapidly made a name for itself on the Parisian electro concert scene, the i-Boat is moored at Harbour (Bassin à flot) N°1. It has become one of Bordeaux’ iconic concert venues and is also the home of a popular bar and nightclub where Bordeaux’ trendy youngsters like to be seen.

In the historic centre of Bordeaux...

The Utopia

This art-house cinema renowned for its excellent programming has put down its roots in a former religious edifice dating from the 6th century, the Church Saint of Simeon. On entering the cinema lobby, home to a welcoming café open for snacks all day long, stop and admire the church’s splendid nave. All in all it is well worth a visit, as much for the architecture as for the movie screen.

At Bègles...

La Fabrique Pola

From the outside, it is hard to imagine the intense creative activity going on within the huge former postal sorting office of Bègles, one of the towns bordering Bordeaux to the south of the main Saint Jean railway station. Inside you will find artists, engravers, printers, programmers, developers and designers – all busily creating! The avant-garde “Pola Manufactory” is home to some twenty cultural entities such as the cartoon publishing house Les Requins Marteaux, the urban event organiser, Bruit du frigo and PointBarre nursery of artists, to name but a few. Exhibitions are regularly staged on the ground-floor.

La Manufacture Atlantique

This lovely old edifice painted navy blue was formerly a shoe factory. Turned into a theatre in the 1990s, it has become one of the foremost contemporary creative stages in the region and is today directed by Frédéric Maragnani. Even better, the theatre canteen is open every weekday at lunchtimes.

The tourist attractions mentioned

Bordeaux fine arts museum Bordeaux fine arts museum
Bordeaux fine arts museum
Decorative Arts and Design Museum Decorative Arts and Design Museum
Decorative Arts and Design Museum