Bordeaux locals have a petit penchant for the avant-garde, with many of the city’s hottest nightspots embracing a downright kooky vibe. Here’s our pick of three of Bordeaux’s quirkiest after-hours watering holes.
CanCan Coquetels & Flonflons
Heavily influenced by prohibition-era America, CanCan Coquetels & Flonflons is as clandestine as it is cool. You know you’re about to exit the norm when you arrive at the entrance and find the front door hidden in a telephone booth – a stylish and affectionate nod to the speakeasy joints that sprung up across the US during the ‘dry years.’
The compact bar area within, with its low ceilings, scattered seats and old leather sofas, has an intimate yet laid-back ‘members only’ vibe. The cocktail menu, a patriotic homage to anything and everything alcoholic that ever came near France, is nothing short of amazing. Don’t even think about leaving without savouring a Vauban (Citadel Gin, Gray Goose Vodka and Lillet ‘CanCan’) first.
Set among the winding streets of the medieval St Pierre district is La Comtesse, a bar so Gallic it looks like it might well have been transported directly from the set of Amélie the moment filming wrapped. As soon as you pass the kitschy, gold-framed photos by the entrance and clock the chandeliers and vintage furniture, you know you’re in a place where offbeat is king. The mellow jazz vibes only sweeten the ambience. As welcoming as the interior and the clientele are, it’s the joint’s legendary cocktails that exert the greatest pull. The mojitos are the undoubtedly the best in town but be sure to try a Madeleine or two as well – it tastes just like the traditional French cake it’s named after.
If you like the idea of feeling like you’ve stumbled down a rabbit hole à la Alice in Wonderland on a night out, then this is the Bordeaux bar for you. Just a stone’s throw from the city’s famed Grand Theatre yet a world away from the familiar, Maria Randall has a way of making you feel a million miles from a conventional night out as soon as you step inside.
The combination of plain breeze block walls, exposed timber roof, quaint floral tapestries and twee shelving leads you to conclude Miss Marple and Bob the Builder took it in turns with the decor duties. The fact you have to hunt for the menus (tip: look inside the books on the tables) only serves to ramp up your sense of bemusement.
In addition to a wide array of innovative cocktails – some of which are so seductive they should come with a health warning – this odd little enclave does a strong line in gourmet snacks and refined tapas-style eats. The shellfish is a highlight, as is the duck. The sensational burgers or pancakes with foie gras are a particularly indulgent treat.