Bordeaux - capital of Nouvelle Aquitaine
Bordeaux, the remarkable city on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, is recommended on various rankings as a city that should definitely be visited. Lonely Planet, the New York Times and "European Destination" have ranked the city high on the list of "must see cities."
History of Bordeaux
During the 3rd century B.C.E., Bordeaux was known as a settlement of the Celts. Over the following centuries, it has been in the hands of Romans, Franks and Norwegians. After a strategic marriage, the city was ruled by England from the 12th to the 15th century. Starting in the 13th century, wine was delivered to England which later gave Bordeaux its name, "Holy City." Wine became an important export product. The prosperity that emerged from this became visible in the architecture of the city and numerous impressive buildings. At the end of the 19th century, a disease hit the grapes and caused a decline in prosperity. In the early 20th century, the city was revived by the emerging arms industry.
Bordeaux was the temporary seat of the French government in both WWI and WWII. After WWII, Mayor Jacques Chaban-Delmas left his mark on the city for a long time.
Port city with many dimensions
Over the centuries, Bordeaux has developed into a city with international allure. The historical periods are clearly visible. This gives the city many dimensions. You can see the beautiful quays on the riverbank, the many monumental buildings in the old center that put Bordeaux on the UNESCO list, the pleasant nightlife, the student district of St. Pierre, neighborhoods with famous wine depots, art and culture, and more!
Esplanade des Quinconces
Bordeaux's largest square is Esplanade des Quinconces. In the square, there is a famous monument with prancing horses, called “Girondes.” This is also the most important stop of the modern ultramodern light rail tram. From here, you can transfer to various lines and view the whole of Bordeaux with a day ticket. One of the cafés on the square, "Café Nulle part Ailleurs," is led by former football players Zidane and Dugarry.
In the historic city center, you can see beautiful buildings from the 18th century. Bordeaux is called “the most beautiful city in France after Paris,” only smaller.
Porte Cailhau - This beautiful city gate dates back to the 15th century. The name Cailhau refers to the pebbles (cailloux) that the Gironde deposited here and that were also used as ballasts for ships. The structure served as a city gate and as a triumphal arch in honor of the victory of Charles VIII in Fornovo.
Place de la Victoire - Within the old city walls of Bordeaux lies the large and imposing Place de la Victoire. There is a high triumphal arch, “Porte d’Aquitaine,” and obelisk in this square. This column was unveiled in 2005 and is made from red marble from the Languedoc and also bronze. It is a tribute to wine, the regional product that made Bordeaux world-famous. The Place de la Victoire, with its many patios, is an ideal place to taste the delicious wines produced in the region.
St. Pierre Quarter
This district in the city’s center includes a number of special squares, such as Place de la Bourse, which features the beautiful "Fontaine des Trois-Grâces" fountain. Markets are held at the Place Saint Pierre and the Place du Parlement has many patios, cafes, and restaurants.
Place de la Bourse
This square is seen as the symbol of the prosperity of Bordeaux. In the past years, it has had various names: Place Royal, Place de la Liberté and from 1848, Place de la Bourse. This square is also known for the beautiful fountain "Fontaine des Trois Grâces". The Museum of Customs, the stock exchange building and a luxury hotel are also located here.
The "Miroir d'eau" is in front of the square. This is a separate square that is constantly under 2 cm of water. This feature creates all kinds of fun effects and reflections.
Cathedrale Saint André
The cathedral of the Archbishop of Bordeaux-Bazas, called Saint André, is in the southern part of the old city. The earliest sections date back to the 12th century. The main entrance is beautifully decorated with sculptures.
In 1755, a beautiful botanical garden was created with 3,000 different plant species. This garden is located on Place Bardineau. There are many exotic plants from China, Japan and America. Admission is free.
Citadel of Blaye
This fortification was built in the 17th century to protect Bordeaux against attacks. In addition to this fort, a reinforcement was added. Fort Pate was built on an island, from which people had a good view of Fort Blaye and Fort Medoc. The inventor of this defense is Sebastien de Vauban. Thus, this is called the "Vauban system." There are guided tours every day.
Eating & drinking in Bordeaux
There are many bars, cafés and restaurants throughout Bordeaux, particularly in the historic center. Everything is available, especially French cuisine. There are many cozy restaurants in the narrow streets along the banks of the Garonne. It is well-known that the tastiest tapas are in the Bodega district, and that Burgundian dishes can be found in the St.Rémi district. Chinese, Indian and Mexican cuisine is also abundant. If you want to taste the typical Bordelaise, or the cuisine of Bordeaux, you have to go near Allées de Tourny and le Grand Théâtre.
Of course, you can’t have food without wine! Local wines are popular, such as the Haut-Médoc and St. Emilion.
The Bordelais cake is recommended as a dessert or snack. It consists of a crispy caramel pastry shell filled with a creamy vanilla custard.
Shopping in Bordeaux
Do you like to go shopping for a day during your vacation? You will have plenty of opportunities in Bordeaux! There are numerous shopping centers, but also small shopping avenues. There are two shopping centers: Galeries Lafayette, with exclusive clothing stores and luxury perfume and cosmetics shops, and le Center Commercial Mériadeck, which has a larger variety of stores.
The main shopping avenue of Bordeaux is the Rue Sainte Cathérine. This connects the place de la Victoire with place de la Comédie. In other words: this runs from the Grand Théatre to the Port d'Aquitaine. It is one of the longest and car-free shopping avenues in France.
If you are looking for exclusive designer stores, the best place to visit is the “Triangle d’Or,” the district between Le Cours de l'Interdance, Le Cours Georges Clemenceau and Les Allées de Tourny. Here you will find brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Rolex, and Cartier.
Bordeaux is a city of students, which is why there are also many entertainment options. You can sit comfortably on a patio and taste the tastiest wines, late into the night.
Cultural life is also abundant in Bordeaux. There are cinemas, theaters, concert halls and dance halls.