It was our final week of a 2+ month road trip through Europe. Bordeaux wasn’t exactly a planned destination, but rather a convenient stop on the way to Le Mont-Saint-Michel. Other than gorgeous vineyards and fabulous wine (and it was fabulous), we didn’t know what to expect from the city.
Stumbling across Bordeaux’s Miroir d’eau (Water Mirror) felt magical. From playing in the misty fog, to photographing the mystifying reflections, there was something childlike and fascinating about this simple reflecting pool.
Not only did we enjoy playing in Bordeaux’s water mirror, it was a great spot to practice a bit of photography.
In this post we’ll answer your questions about visiting Bordeaux’s famous water mirror and provide tips on getting the best photos. My absolute favorite photo from our visit is the last in this post.
What Makes Miroir d'eau Special?
From a distance, we could see a strange fog filling the city. Crowds of people laughing and playing in what looked like low-lying clouds. By the time we got closer, the fog had disappeared. The crowd stayed but moved to the side of the glossy wet surface.
Wow, what a great reflection, I thought as I quickly snapped some photos of the Place de la Bourse. Little did I know, this was not the best time to grab photos.
A few minutes later, the tiles of Miroir d’eau began to flood. A giant reflecting pool emerged. Actually, the world’s largest reflecting pool, so that’s something to check off your travel bucket list.
This was obviously what the little boy next to us was waiting for. Armed with the tiniest kick scooter and swimsuit, he squealed as he pealed out across the glistening surface.
Most adults sat on the side, dipping their toes in the cool water. Others took off their shoes for a short stroll.
The Great Reflection Of Miroir d'eau
Moments later the water drained. Once again Miroir d’eau was reflective. Though, not just a little, this time it truly was a “mirror of water.” So brilliant, the clouds reflected perfectly to give a disorienting upside-down sky.
The crowd rushed back onto the surface for silly poses and mystic selfies.
Smoke & Water Mirrors
Just as we started to walk away, Miroir d’eau lured us back with its final surprise.
Mists of water filled the square. It looked like smoke floating on the surface. This kicked off a whole new set of reactions from the crowd.
Scooter kid excitedly jumped off his scooter to cup his tiny hands over the spray. A keen dog ran through happily biting into the air.
Sunset Photos At Miroir d'eau
Returning to Miroir d’eau for sunset had a whole different vibe. Hordes of tourists no longer packed the square. Surprisingly, there were very few people there.
It was mostly just other photographers, which was great! Everyone was super respectful. Even sharing the central spot so everyone could get “the” shot.
Photography Tip: It’s worth noting, the sun sets directly behind the Place de la Bourse, so sunrise may be a better time to catch the light on the building.
As the night drew in, the scene became even more beautiful as the water mirror ran through its cycles. Since there were less tourists, the water was a bit stiller, it was easier to get the reflecting pool shots too.
Photography Tip: Don’t forget your tripod and a cable release to get night shots. Keep the tripod relatively low so the reflection fills about half the frame without much tilting.
Photography Tip: Bring the widest lens you have. Even steeping back as far as I could, the 18mm lens I had at the time wouldn’t capture all three buildings in one shot.
The misty fog showed up best just as the light of day began to disappear. It made the building appear to float in the clouds.
Photography Tip: Play with shutter speed to turn the thick mist into fluffy clouds. Of course, don’t forget to increase your ISO.
Magical Evening At Miroir d'eau
Finally, the night set in. Romantic, magical, and glorious, the glow from Place de la Bourse lit the square. Blue hour was definitely my favorite time to photograph the reflecting pool.
And finally, on to my favorite photograph of this surreal place.
Though few tourists remained in the square, locals began meeting at the central fountain, Fontaine des Trois Grâces. My favorite shot was a simple close up of the gathering, reflected in all its glory.
A Little About Bordeaux's Water Mirror
You’ll find the Miroir d’eau at Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux, France on Quai de la Douane street, along the Garonne River.
At 37, 100 sq ft., Bordeaux’s Miroir d’eau (Water Mirror) is the world’s largest reflecting pool. Designed by landscape artist Michel Corajoud, the fountain was built in 2006 by the fountain-maker Jean-Max Llorca and architect Pierre Gangnet.
Note – The fountain only runs from April to October each year.
Where To Stay In Bordeaux
- If your looking for an apartment with a kitchen in the center of Bordeaux the Hotel Particulier is a fantastic option, near the Gare St Jean train station.
- For a budget friendly hotel within walking distance to Miroir d’eau consider Hotel Des Voyageurs just the other side of the river.
- A more luxurious option is the Hotel Singulier Bordeaux. This hotel sits in the center of Bordeaux, only a 15 minute walk to Miroir d’eau.
Bordeaux Travel Guidebook
We are huge fans of the Eyewitness travel guides. They not only provide fantastic detail on a destination, they also include plenty of inspiring photography so you know what to expect. The DK Eyewitness guide is available on Amazon.