About Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux, in southwestern France, is a port city on the Garonne and hub of the famed wine-growing region. It’s known for its Gothic Cathédrale St-André, as well as its many fine and contemporary art museums and 18th- and 19th-century mansions. Public gardens line the curving river quays, and grand Place de la Bourse opens to the water, with the Three Graces fountain at its center.
Bordeaux is definitely famous for its wines which are considered among the best in the world. There is no lack of wineries to discover. It is also a lovely port city visit filled with history and architecture. Bordeaux itself is one of the 5 biggest cities in France it is a very lively place with large student and foreigner communities.
Bordeaux has some of the best examples of 18th-century architecture in the whole of France. To see the nicest buildings stroll along the river near the Quai de la Douane. The city also has a major fine-arts museum. Tour the area wineries sample some of their products and in October watch the grape harvest.
The Cap Ferret peninsula has beaches on two sides, the ocean to the west and a bay to the right. Here you’ll find quiet beaches, surfing, fishing or swimming without getting to far outside the city.
Plage du Nice is one of the quieter beaches near Bordeaux, a great spot to take the kids to play in the sand and surf.
Plage Biscarrosse is set aside for land yachts, kite buggies, surfing, and water activities.
Dune Du Pilat is a big dune on the coast and is not to be missed. It is 114 m high and 2.7 km long, the highest in Europe. Take a sandboard along and ride down to the sea.
Climate Bordeaux has an oceanic climate, so generally temperate with a short winter and a high degree of humidity generated by the close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean.
Bordeaux is located near the European Atlantic coast, in the southwest of France. Bordeaux is a flat city, built on the banks of the Garonne River. It is also the largest French city in area and geographically one of the largest in Europe. To the east are a few hills marking the beginning of an industrial zone and suburbs. Bordeaux is among the most economically dynamic cities in France.
History The remains of a Neanderthal, dating back to between 30,000 and 200,000 years ago, have been found at a famous cave known as Pair-non-Pair just north of Bordeaux.
The first found settlement goes back to 300 BC by a Celtic tribe, the Bituriges Vivisci, who named the town Burdigala. The city fell under Roman rule around 60 BC. Later it became capital of Roman Aquitaine. It was sacked many times over the course of centuries. From the 12th to the 15th century, Bordeaux regained importance as part of the English realm, following the marriage of Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine with the French-speaking Count Henri Plantagenet, born in Le Mans, who became, within months of their wedding, King Henry II of England. The city flourished, primarily due to wine trade, and the cathedral of St. André was built.
Following battles, it was annexed by France in 1453. The 18th century was the golden age of Bordeaux. Many downtown buildings are from this period. The French government was relocated from Paris to this city during World War II, when it became apparent that Paris would soon fall into German hands.
Nature The Jardin Public is a beautifully landscaped park that was established in 1755 and laid out in the English style a century later. The park runs along Cours de Verdun, just north of the city centre.
Place Gambetta has a valiant attempt at an English garden.
Unique to Here Bordeaux wines are known the world over. Visiting the wineries, learning about and tasting the local product is a must. Some of the best and most famous are:
Château Petrus Château Lafite-Rothschild Château Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac) Château Margaux Château Ausone Château Cheval Blanc
Bordeaux-Merignac Airport Airport Tax : none Distance from Airport : 8 km Tourist Office : Office de Tourisme: 12 Cours du 30-Juillet (tel. 05-56-00-66-00) Tourist Season : June through October Festivals & Events June - Bordeaux-Fête-le-Vin, every 2 years on even years - Bordeaux River Festival
Transportation Bordeaux-Merignac Airport is west of the city. An express bus runs to the city center, with stops on the demand.
The Gare Saint Jean train station is located about 4km from the center of town and connects Bordeaux with namely Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Montpellier, and Nice. The bus station is located just in front of the train station. Buses, a tramway and taxis leave from in front of the station.
Renting a car and driving to explore the region is great. But avoid driving in Bordeaux, especially at rush hour. Parking is a pain and very expensive.
Bordeaux is quite a big city however most of the interesting attractions are in the town center. If you can just walk, many areas are designated pedestrian area. The electric bus, called la navette du centre-ville, is the only public transportation on pedestrian roads.
The city bus network is organized around three main places: Gare Saint-Jean, Place de la Victoire and Place Gambetta. There are also three efficient tramway lines. Le Bus du Fleuve links the western part of the city and the eastern part of the city by a small cruise on the river.
Activities & Sports
Because it is a flat city, bicycles make excellent modes of transport, especially as the city has more than 580 km of cycle tracks.
If you are a sport-lover, Bordeaux is a very nice city for practicing roller-blading and other skating sports, particularly near the north of the Colbert.
Walk on the shores of the Garonne.
Climb the 243 steps of the tower of Saint-Michel.
Football (soccer) is a very popular sport in Bordeaux, as the F.C. Girondins, the football club, is one of the best in. Other sports that enjoy some support in Bordeaux include ice hockey, handball and rugby.
Archaeology The Basilica of Saint-Seurin is the most ancient church in Bordeaux. It was built in the early 6th century on the site of a Paleochristian necropolis. It has an 11th century portico. The 13th century nave has chapels from the 11th and the 14th centuries. The ancient crypt houses sepulchers of the Merovingian family.
The Saint-André Cathedral, Saint-Michel Basilica and Saint-Seurin Basilica are all part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.
The Palais Gallien are the remains of a late 2nd-century Roman amphitheater.
Attractions & Sights Bordeaux is home to one of Europe's biggest 18th century architectural urban areas, standing out as one of the first French cities to have metropolitan big scale projects. The city of “Art and History” is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Some of the architectural sights include: Esplanade des Quinconces, Colonnes des Girondins, Grand Théâtre, Allées de Tourny, Cours de l'Intendance, Place de la Bourse, Place du Chapelet, Gambetta Square, and Pont de Pierre.
The Saint-André Cathedral, Saint-Michel Basilica and Saint-Seurin Basilica are part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. Another church worth visiting is the Sainte-Croix Church.
There are two gates remaining from the Medieval walls. One is La Grosse Cloche dating back to the 15th century. It consists of two 40m high circular towers and a central bell tower housing a bell weighing 7,800kg. Also worth seeing is the Victory Arch at the center of La Victoire.
Les Quais are perfect for a nice walk on the shores of the Garonne, a ride on a ferry boat; all offering a stunning view over the bridges of Bordeaux.
Place Gambetta is a pivotal square for the city's museums, shops and the cathedral. Once a majestic space in the time of Louis XV, place Gambetta's house fronts are arcaded at street level and decorated with rows of carved masks.
And finally museums abound in this city: Musee D'Art Contemporain, Musee D'Aquitaine, Musée des Beaux Arts, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée D'Histoire Naturelle, Musée National des Doines, the French military battleship Colbert, Vinorama, and Musée Goupil.
Nightlife Bordeaux is lively during the day, and is still lively during the night. If you're looking for a bar head for La Victoire as most of the pubs and bars of the town are here.
If you prefer dancing or clubbing, most of the night-clubs are on the Quais, close to the train station. From rock to disco, dance to techno, you also have a lot of choice.
Side Trips The Medoc region is where some of the famous Bordeaux wines are produced. A lot of wine producers organize visits of their installations, with tastings of their products.
To the west, the Atlantic Ocean has kilometres of golden sand beaches accompanied by unspoilt pine forests. The little town of Arcachon is worth visiting. Hourtins' Lake is the biggest non-salt water lake in France.
Saint Emilion is a well known vineyard surrounding the village of the same name. It is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Graves region is home of the oldest vineyards of Bordeaux, stretching along the Garonne river. This area is the most interesting for historical tourism, with many beautiful towns and historical monuments open to the public: such as Bazas, Saint Macaire, Uzeste, and Cadillac.
Most tourist hotels are close to the railway station. There are some luxury hotels close to Gambetta square and Quinconces square, which are really nice but rather expensive. Bordeaux has a recently-built youth hostel, close to the railway station, which can be worth a visit for a few nights.
Eating Out Gastronomy has a very important place in the city, which is full of restaurants of all kinds. French restaurants provide dishes from almost every part of the country, and there are a lot of Asian, African or Arabian restaurants.
Fishing is popular in the region for the cuisine. The Pyrenees also support top quality as well as high quality sheep cheeses. High quality beef, free-range chickens, turkey, pigeon, capon, goose and duck prevail in the region as well. Armagnac is also from this region as are high quality prunes from Agen. The Cannelés are a pastry well know in this region.
Shopping The Pedestrian Center is basically full of shops of all kinds, from clothes to art, craft works, food and wine. Rue Sainte-Catherine is the longest shopping street in Europe. If you're looking for luxury items, try to go to Gambetta square and in the surroundings.
Wine would be an obvious product to buy here. Don't hesitate to visit wine resellers north of Gambetta or Les Quinconces. Local pastries, such as Cannelés, are worth buying too, if you're close to the end of your trip.