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Bordeaux: City of Wine, Stunning Architecture, and Vibrant Culture

Updated: Jul 8

Bordeaux wineries

Bordeaux: World Heritage

Bordeaux, France, has a rich historical heritage and architecture. The city's historic center, Port de la Lune, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007. It is the largest urban area classified by UNESCO.

The area comprises wide streets, tree-lined squares, and grand buildings. You will note the majestic buildings of Bordeaux Opera, Stock Exchange, and City Hall.

But Bordeaux is also known for its world-class cuisine. The city is home to restaurants serving traditional French and international cuisine. The wines are among the best in the world.

Bordeaux is also an important cultural center with museums, art galleries, and theaters. The city is home to cutting-edge art spaces, concept stores, and lively nightlife.

The city is flat, which makes it easy to access on foot, by bike or scooter. Most tourist attractions are within walking distance, making it an ideal city to explore on foot.

Bordeaux: a dangerous city that has become a tourist destination

Bordeaux has not always been a safe tourist destination. In the 1990s, Bordeaux was one of the most dangerous cities in France.

The crime was high, with the city plagued by gangs, drug trafficking, and violence. The city's historic center was in ruins, and many residents had abandoned the area.

In 2001, Alain Juppé was elected mayor of Bordeaux. Juppé was an experienced politician determined to revitalize the city. He launched an ambitious renovation plan to reduce crime and improve infrastructure.

Juppé's plan was successful. Crime has significantly decreased, and the historic center has been restored. Bordeaux has become a well-known tourist destination in France.

Here are some of the measures Juppé took to revitalize Bordeaux:

  1. He invested heavily in the police and public security.

  2. He promoted the urban regeneration of the city's historic center.

  3. He promoted Bordeaux as a tourist destination.

What to do in Bordeaux: unmissable tourist attractions

Le quai Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France, is a city with a rich history and culture. The city is home to a variety of tourist attractions:

  • Le Quai: take a walk on the banks of the Garonne. The long riverside boulevard is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops. Admire the stunning views of the river and city.

  • The Aquitaine Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the Garonne River. It is the second-longest suspension bridge in France, with a length of 1,767 meters. It was built in 1967 and is an important transport route for the city.

  • The Jacques-Chaban-Dalmas Bridge is a modern architectural work. It contrasts with the old city. It is a popular tourist attraction and offers stunning views of the city.

  • The Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts houses a collection of European art spanning over 800 years. The collection includes works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Gogh.

  • The Bordeaux Museum of Contemporary Art presents modern and contemporary art.

  • Bordeaux wineries are famous for producing some of the best wines in the world. The region's wineries offer tastings, guided tours, and other tourist activities. Sample Bordeaux wines at one of the city's many restaurants.

  • Gambetta Square, nicknamed Little Paris, has a statue of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Quinconces Square with fountain monuments to the Girondins. They were a group of moderates during the French Revolution.

  • The Meriadeck administrative center has one of the largest libraries in France.

  • Victory Arch (Roman architecture) concentrates all historical monuments.

La Cité du vin

La cité di Vin: Bordeaux

The recently opened Bordeaux Wine Museum, also known as La Cité du Vin. It is an unmissable tourist attraction for anyone visiting the French city.

The museum opened in June 2016. It is dedicated to the history and culture of wine and offers a unique and engaging experience. The museum is on the bank of the Garonne River, in a modern and bold design building.

The museum's interior is equally impressive! It offers interactive and multimedia exhibits that explore all aspects of wine. Dive into its history and production to its cultural and social importance.

The museum offers two restaurants. A brasserie on the ground floor called Le 7 Bar & Tapas. And, a more sophisticated restaurant on the seventh floor called Le 7 Restaurant.

We had a pleasant lunch experience at Le 7 Restaurant.


Saint Emilion

Don't forget to go to Saint-Émilion, an option for a day trip from Bordeaux. If you have more time, you can stay in Saint-Émilion for a night or two to better enjoy the city and its attractions.

Saint-Émilion is a charming medieval town in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its beautiful steep hills, medieval architecture, and delicious wines.

  • Visit Saint-Émilion Cathedral, a historic monument from the 12th century.

  • Walk the city's steep streets and admire the medieval architecture.

The quickest and easiest way to get from Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion is by train. The journey takes around 30 minutes and costs around €9.50. Trains leave Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean station every hour.

Another option is to go by car. The journey takes around 45 minutes. Or go on a guided tour.

The best Bordeaux wines

The Bordeaux wine region in France produces some of the best wines in the world. Bordeaux wines are typically full-bodied and complex. They have a rich aroma of fruit, wood, and spice.

The best Bordeaux wines combine the quality of the grape with the region's terroir. Bordeaux terroirs are mainly composed of limestone and clay. That gives the region's wines a unique structure and minerality.

If you are a wine lover, you may have heard of:

  • One of the most famous wines in the world, Château Margaux is a Premier Cru Classé. It is the highest classification in the region. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

  • Château Lafite Rothschild: Another Premier Cru Classé. It is an elegant wine with red fruits, spices, and vanilla aromas.

  • Château Mouton Rothschild is a Premier Cru Classé known for its history. "The wine has been classified as Deuxième Cru Classé." But, in 1973, Baron Philippe Rothschild decided that the wine deserved a Premier Cru Classé.

  • Château Haut-Brion is the only Premier Cru Classé not on the left bank of the Garonne River. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.

  • Château d'Yquem is a sweet wine made with Sauvignon Blanc. It is considered one of the best sweet wines in the world.

Bordeaux wines are quite different from the ones of Napa Valley, California.

Napa Valley's soil is composed primarily of basalt and granite. The most grown grapes in Napa Valley are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. And, The wines are generally more fruity, elegant, and aromatic.

For a contrasting experience within France itself, head to the Loire Valley, where charming chateaux and family-run vineyards produce a delightful range of whites and reds.There, you'll find crisp Sauvignon Blancs and lighter-bodied Cabernet Francs, offering a refreshing food-friendly alternative to Bordeaux's powerful blends.

Best time to visit Bordeaux

The best time to visit is during July and August when there is less rainfall and more sun.

If you want to visit the wineries, the best time is during the harvest, between September and October. During this period, wineries are open to the public and offer tastings and tours.

November, on the contrary, is the month that rains the most. We do not recommend it.

How to get to Bordeaux

Bordeaux is around 500 km from Paris, an unmissable autumn destination. The drive from Paris to Bordeaux takes around 6 hours. You can compare prices and book the car on RentalCars.Com or directly at Europcar. Both, great providers

The best way to get to Bordeaux (and the quickest) is by train. Bordeaux is well-served by high-speed trains.

There are direct trains to Bordeaux from many French cities. The train journey from Paris to Bordeaux takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

But buy your train ticket in advance on RailEurope. We tried to buy at the last minute, and the price was double that of a car rental. We ended up going by car, but it was far and tiring.


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