The riverside city of Bordeaux, capital of the Aquitaine region, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, and a walk around the area will show much of what you need to know about the city. This was a major settlement long before the Romans, and was always a key trading station, and open to repeated attach by pirates.
Bordeaux is an amazing city not to be missed! Book a boat tour, take your family to the famous "water mirror" (le Miroir), relax in a park, climb the 229 steps of the Pey-Berland tower, and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the old town.
The city's beautiful architecture is inseparable from the city's identity. From charming public gardens to monuments full of history, the city definitely has something to say. Take time out to visit a permanent or temporary exhibition at one of the municipal museums, or browse at an art gallery.
This city has it all: ancient buildings, eccentric shops, wonderful cafés, stylish squares – perfect for the café lifestyle. And if you are searching for a souvenir, then rue Ste Catherine is the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe; that should help.
Of course, you probably came here for the wine, so why not pop into one of the wine bars for a glass or two of something comforting, or visit the tourist office to book a bus wine tasting tour – it beats driving, every time. Opened in June 2016 is the magnificent Cité du Vin, a spectacular new museum dedicated to wine.
Tram moving in front of Saint André Cathedral. The building is one of 69 monuments associated with the Way of St James recognised by UNESCO when adding the famous pilgrimage to the world heritage list. © Atout France/Michel Angot.
In 1552, Eleanor of Aquitaine married the future King Henry
II of England, and her dowry comprised almost the whole of south-western
France. As a result, the city became part of the English kingdom, and remained
as such for over 300 years.
In fact, it was the English demand for wine that began the city's tradition of seafaring, and inspired the expansion of the vineyards. Not even the Hundred Years' War could impede the flow of wine to England.
Today, following much restoration in the 18th century, the Old Town is well worth visiting, its restored buildings including those along the quayside, following a bend in the Gironde.
As in many of the important French cities, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is a splendid place to visit (Jardin de la Mairie, 20 cours d'Albret). But the name of the city is for many synonymous with wine.
St Émilion wine boxes © Atout France/Benoit Roland.
Bordeaux is probably the most well-known wine-producing region in France, and counts for a third of the good quality French wine. The wines are so good there that a Bordeaux ranking is needed to classify the best of the best. Some of them are universal: Margaux, Yquem, Pétrus, Cheval Blanc, Haut Brion and all the others. Remarkably, the area has about 7,000 chateaux!
Tram passing over the Pont de Pierre bridge. © Atout France/Jean François Tripelon-Jarry.
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