On 22 August 1937, Bordeaux made their league debut, losing to Toulouse, 3-2.
The club dates back to 1881, but initially offered only gymnastics and shooting. They added football on a trial basis in 1910, then abandoned it again for nearly a decade. It returned for good in 1919 and they played their first official match in 1920, beating Section Burdigalienne 12-0.
In 1936, the club merged with Girondins Guyenne Sport and assumed professional status. They joined the French league for the 1937-38 season, playing in the second division, where they opened the year with the loss to Toulouse. It was not a good season for the Girondins, who finished sixth out of seven teams in Division 2's Sud subdivision.
They remained in Division 2 until 1939, finishing eleventh in the league's last season before the hiatus for World War II. When league play resumed in 1946, Bordeaux were placed into Division 1, but were promptly relegated at the end of the season.
Bordeaux returned to the top flight in 1949 and won the league that season, the first of their six league titles. They enjoyed their greatest period of success in the 1980s, winning the league in 1984, 1985, and 1987, then won it again in 1999 and 2009. They have also won the Coupe de France three times (1941, 1986, 1987) and the Coupe de la Ligue three times as well (2002, 2007, 2009).