Thanks to its major commercial port,
which takes its pretty nickname of "Port de la Lune" (Port of the Moon) from its
crescent shape, Bordeaux's legendary wines set out to conquer palates the world over.
What's more, this port has been harbouring ships from around the globe since Antiquity.
In the 18th century, Bordeaux experienced an enviable economic boom, as evidenced by the
facades lining the quays.
Today, the city can pride
itself on having three monuments designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the
Saint-André cathedral and the Saint-Seurin and Saint-Michel basilicas. The city centre
is characterised by the vast Esplanade des Quinconces, around which lie the city's main
squares and thoroughfares.
In Bordeaux, wine is
inextricably linked to the region's culinary specialties, including pigeon,
foie gras, game, and, above all, fish and seafood.
The city is also home to a good many restaurants offering cuisine from around the world.
For culture vultures looking to make the rounds of museums, the Musée d'Art Contemporain
(contemporary arts), located in the impressive old Entrepôt Réel des Denrées Coloniales
(Colonial Goods Warehouse); the Musée d'Aquitaine, which highlights the history of the
city and its region; the Musée des Beaux-Arts (fine arts), on of the oldest museums in
the country (1801); and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (decorative arts), located in the
impressive Hôtel Lalande, dating from 1779.
Bordeaux encompasses a few noteworthy districts. The Saint-Pierre quarter, which
harbours the church and square of the same name, features beautiful Louis XV-style
homes. The cosmopolitan area of Saint-Michel revolves around its Gothic basilica, and
its public market (Marché des Capucins) buzzes with activity. Sainte-Croix still recalls
the bygone days of this suburb, where potters, cobblers, rope makers and cowhands plied
their trades. The Sainte-Croix abbey, with its Romanesque tower, stands in its centre.
Lastly, the Sainte-Eulalie district has, more than any other, preserved its
archaeological heritage and places of worship, including the Sainte-Eulalie church. The
area was once a point of departure for pilgrims headed to Saintiago de Compostela, in
Built between 1773 and 1780 on Place de la
Comédie under the direction of architect Victor Louis, the Grand Théâtre is one of the
most beautiful theatres in France. Major restorations were undertaken in 1990 and 1991
to modernise its facilities while preserving its original architecture. Famous for its
remarkable acoustics, it features an impressive neoclassical facade that features 12
Corinthian columns decorated with statues of nine muses and three
This enormous square (1818-1828),
surrounded by rows of well-aligned trees, is graced with the Monument aux Girondins,
erected in the late 19th century. Also to be admired here are the statues of Montaigne
Facing the Garonne, the Place de la
Bourse (stock exchange) is an 18th-century architectural masterpiece. Its majestic
facade imbues the square with luxury and splendour.
Since 1998, Bordeaux has been
celebrating wine with a three-day summer festival (Bordeaux Fête le Vin; late June to
early July). This multifaceted event offers wine lovers the chance to attend wine
tastings, visit wineries and enjoy parades, exhibitions, and fireworks, among many other
activities. You can also visit the Maison du Vin (house of wine) to sample some of the
region's various vintages. The same building also houses the École du Vin (school of
wine), which offers wine-themed weekend vacation packages. Rue Sainte-Catherine, a
pedestrian-only street, is lined with shops and cafés.
Where on earth
The city of Bordeaux is located in south-western
France, on the banks of the Garonne river, less than 100km (62mi) from the Atlantic
Ocean. It is the capital of the region of Aquitaine. Bordeaux is home to close to
230,000 people, while the entire urban area includes more than 735,000 residents.