Architectural splendor and the best wine in the world!
Surrounded by some of the finest vineyards in the world, producing 700m bottles of wine a year, Bordeaux is southwest France’s “Little Paris”. The magnificence of the old town’s buildings has led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to 1m people, including 60,000 students, Bordeaux has a reputation as a relaxed, tolerant city. It is very visitor friendly, with a pedestrianised city centre; its 58km of cycle-routes invite you to explore by bicycle. The dock area is being developed for your leisure, with cafes, galleries and museums constantly opening up. You can quaff world-class wines such as Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Cheval Blanc whilst sampling the cuisine of the surrounding Aquitaine area. Go to Les Quais to enjoy the beauty of the River Garonne: here you can walk the banks, take the ferry from one side to the other, then dine and dance the evening away.
Explore the Bordeaux historic centre on a walking tour or take a boat tour of the port. Enjoy a course of retail therapy on Rue Sainte Catherine: 1.2km of shops make it Europe’s longest shopping street. Take in the delights of the Flea Market in June or September.
When to go?
The city’s winters are mild, with an average temperature of 6°C; although there is a lot of rain in summer, the temperatures sit at around 20°C. The International Fair and the Jazz Festival run in May. June brings the Fete de la Musique and the River Festival. The opera season runs from September to June. You can sample the season’s new wines at the Fete du Vin Nouveau in October.
How to get there?
Bordeaux-Merignac Airport (BOD) serves not only French destinations, but also the UK, Norway, Germany, Holland and Spain. Low Cost Carriers offer many cheaper flights. The express bus to town operates every 45 minutes. Traffic jams and parking problems mean that driving in town is not recommended. You will do better to walk or cycle, or take a tram, ferry or bus.
Enjoy French café culture at La Victoire, whilst admiring the Roman architecture of the Victory Arch. Gambetta, “Little Paris”, is another pleasant area to visit. If you can manage 243 steps, scale the Tour St Michel for unsurpassed views of the city. The pick of the museums would probably include the Musee d’Art Contemporain, the Musee d’Aquitaine with 25,000-year-old relics and Gallo-Roman statues and, for fine arts, the Musee des Beaux Arts. The Cathedral St Andre, 1096, is magnificent, as are the columns of the Grand Theatre. Unwind at The Jardin Publique or the Jardin Botanique.