I’m known among my family and friends as a marathon shopper. I can shop endlessly, and I’ve never met anyone who could out shop me. That’s why, when I read about the city of Bordeaux’s Rue Sainte-Catherine — said to be the longest pedestrian shopping street in all of France — my heart started to beat a little faster.It wasn’t long before I realized that distance isn’t the only thing Rue Sainte-Catherine has going for it. This relatively narrow street, closed off to traffic, is lined with beautiful architecture: three- and four-story buildings carved in creamy stone and embellished with wrought-iron balconies. At one end of the promenade is the Place de la Victoire, a vast plaza surrounded by ornate buildings and decorated with an arch and obelisk, and at the other is another expansive Place de la Comédie featuring the Grand Theatre, the majestic performance hall for Bordeaux’s ballet and opera. But let’s get to the shopping.
Galleries Lafayette & Galerie Bordelaise
Two of the biggest draws on Rue Sainte-Catherine are Galleries Lafayette, the famously glitzy and fabulous Parisian department store, and Galerie Bordelaise, a shopping mall that opened in 1834. The entire length of the street is lined with the biggest names in European fashion and goods: Promod, Zara, Etam, Fnac, H&M and Kookaï. And, those with a shoe addiction, be warned: There’s a particular proliferation of shoe shops including Beryl, Staggy, Bata, Minelli, Texto, Alizé. So yes, the vast majority of shops here are chain stores. If you decide to visit, you should plan on doing some serious power shopping — this isn’t light window-shopping at small, indie boutiques (though there are plenty of places for that in Bordeaux, too). Just take a break from wine tasting to revel in the delight of having access to these retail icons — all along one bustling, historic street in one of the most beautiful cities in France.
Tip: If you really want to go wild on a shopping spree, plan to visit during the annual sales (les soldes), which generally happen mid-January through late February or early March.