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Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.
The municipality (commune) of Bordeaux proper has a population of 243,626 (2012). Together with its suburbs and satellite towns Bordeaux is the center of the Bordeaux Métropole, which with 749,595 inhabitants (as of 2013) is the 5th largest in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes region, as well as the prefecture of the Gironde department. Its inhabitants are called "Bordelais" (for men) or "Bordelaises" (women). The term "Bordelais" may also refer to the city and its surrounding region.
The city's titles are "La perle d'Aquitaine" (The Pearl of Aquitaine), and "La Belle Endormie" (Sleeping Beauty) in reference to the old center which had black walls due to pollution. Nowadays, this is not the case. In fact, a part of the city, Le Port de La Lune, was almost completely renovated. Bordeaux is the city which has the highest number of preserved historical buildings in France, except for Paris.
Bordeaux is the world's major wine industry capital. It is home to the world's main wine fair, Vinexpo, while the wine economy in the metro area takes in 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century.
|POPULATION :||• Population (2012) 241,287
• Urban (2011) 851,071
• Metro (2013) 1,178,335
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|AREA :||• Area 49.36 km2 (19.06 sq mi)
• Urban 1,172.79 km2 (452.82 sq mi)
• Metro 5,613.41 km2 (2,167.35 sq mi)
|COORDINATES :||44°50′N 0°35′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.4%
• Female: 51.6%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :|
Bordeaux is considered a very tolerant and relaxed place - no one will bother you about your political beliefs, religion, or sexual orientation. The cultural, artistic, and music scenes are very vibrant. The city was ruled by the English for a long time, which is why Bordeaux seems to have an "English flair".
Bordeaux is often referred to as "Little Paris" and the rivalry between the "Bordelais" (people from Bordeaux) and "Parisiens" is a hot subject, so you may experience some heated arguments on the subject during your stay.
You'll be raising your glass many times in Bordeaux, which is renowned for its wines, considered among the best in the world. As the capital of the department Gironde in the region Aquitaine, it has one million inhabitants in its metropolitan area at a 2008 estimate. After years of neglect, the former wet docks are the country's new hot spot, with a number of cafés, gardens, and museums springing up all the time. A lively university community of over 60,000, (Bordeaux Campus is the largest in France) establishes that Bordeaux is about more than just wine.
Bordeaux is classified "City of Art and History". The city is home to 362 monuments historiques (only Paris has more in France) with some buildings dating back to Roman times. Bordeaux has been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble".
Bordeaux is home to one of Europe's biggest 18th-century architectural urban areas, making it a sought-after destination for tourists and cinema production crews. It stands out as one of the first French cities, after Nancy, to have entered an era of urbanism and metropolitan big scale projects, with the team Gabriel father and son, architects for King Louis XV, under the supervision of two intendants (Governors), first Nicolas-François Dupré de Saint-Maur then the Marquis de Tourny.
In historical times, around 300 BCE it was the settlement of a Celtic tribe, the Bituriges Vivisci, who named the town Burdigala, probably of Aquitanian origin. The name Bourde is still the name of a river south of the city.
In 107 BCE, the Battle of Burdigala was fought by the Romans who were defending the Allobroges, a Gallic tribe allied to Rome, and the Tigurini led by Divico. The Romans were defeated and their commander, the consul Lucius Cassius Longinus, was killed in the action.
The city fell under Roman rule around 60 BC, its importance lying in the commerce of tin and lead towards Rome. Later it became capital of Roman Aquitaine, flourishing especially during the Severan dynasty (3rd century). In 276 it was sacked by the Vandals. Further ravage was brought by the same Vandals in 409, the Visigoths in 414 and the Franks in 498, beginning a period of obscurity for the city.
In the late 6th century, the city re-emerged as the seat of a county and an archdiocese within the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks, but royal Frankish power was never strong. The city started to play a regional role as a major urban center on the fringes of the newly founded Frankish Duchy of Vasconia. Circa 585, a certain Gallactorius is cited as count of Bordeaux and fighting the Basques.
The city was plundered by the troops of Abd er Rahman in 732 after storming the fortified city and overwhelming the Aquitanian garrison. Duke Eudes mustered a force ready to engage the Umayyads outside Bordeaux, eventually taking on them in the Battle of the River Garonne somewhere near the river Dordogne, described as taking a heavy death toll. After duke Eudes's defeat, the Aquitanian duke could still save part of its troops and keep his grip on Aquitaine after the Battle of Poitiers.
In 735, the Aquitanian duke Hunald led a rebellion after his father Eudes's death, at which Charles responded by sending an expedition that captured and plundered Bordeaux again, but it was not retained for long. The following year, the Frankish commander descended again over Aquitaine, but clashed in battle with the Aquitanians and left to take on hostile Burgundian authorities and magnates. In 745, Aquitaine faced yet another expedition by Charles' sons Pepin and Carloman against Hunald, the Aquitanian princeps (or duke) strong in Bordeaux. Hunald was defeated, and his son Waifer replaced him, who in turn confirmed Bordeaux as the capital city (along with Bourges in the north).
During the last stage of the war against Aquitaine (760–768), it was one of Waifer's last important strongholds to fall to King Pepin the Short's troops. Next to Bordeaux, Charlemagne built the fortress of Fronsac (Frontiacus, Franciacus) on a hill across the border with the Basques (Wascones), where Basque commanders came over to vow loyalty to him (769).
In 778, Seguin (or Sihimin) was appointed count of Bordeaux, probably undermining the power of the Duke Lupo, and possibly leading to the Battle of Roncevaux Pass that very year. In 814, Seguin was made Duke of Vasconia, but he was deposed in 816 for failing to suppress or sympathise with a Basque rebellion. Under the Carolingians, sometimes theCounts of Bordeaux held the title concomitantly with that of Duke of Vasconia. They were meant to keep the Basques in check and defend the mouth of the Garonne from the Vikingswhen the latter appeared c. 844 in the region of Bordeaux. In Autumn 845, count Seguin IImarched on the Vikings assaulting Bordeaux and Saintes, but was captured and put to death. There are no bishops mentioned during the whole 8th century and part of the 9th in Bordeaux.
From the 12th to the 15th century, Bordeaux regained importance following the marriage of Duchess Eléonore 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 the wine trade, and the cathedral of St. André was built. It was also the capital of an independent state under Edward, the Black Prince (1362–1372), but in the end, after the Battle of Castillon (1453), it was annexed by France which extended its territory. The Château Trompette (Trumpet Castle) and the Fort du Hâ, built by Charles VII of France, were the symbols of the new domination, which however deprived the city of its wealth by halting the wine commerce with England.
In 1462, Bordeaux obtained a parliament, but regained importance only in the 16th century when it became the center of the distribution of sugar and slaves from the West Indies along with the traditional wine.
Bordeaux adhered to the Fronde, being effectively annexed to the Kingdom of France only in 1653, when the army of Louis XIV entered the city.
The 18th century was the golden age of Bordeaux. Many downtown buildings (about 5,000), including those on the quays, are from this period. Victor Hugo found the town so beautiful he once said: "Take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux".Baron Haussmann, a long-time prefect of Bordeaux, used Bordeaux's 18th-century large-scale rebuilding as a model when he was asked by Emperor Napoleon III to transform a then still quasi-medieval Paris into a "modern" capital that would make France proud.
In 1814, towards the end of the Peninsula war, the duke of Wellington sent William Beresford with two divisions, who seized Bordeaux without much resistance on 12 March. Bordeaux was largely anti-Bonapartist and had a majority that supported theBourbons, so the British troops were treated as liberators.
In 1870, at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war against Prussia, the French government temporary relocated to Bordeaux from Paris. This happened again during the First World War and again very briefly during the Second World War, when it became clear that Paris would soon fall into German hands. However, on the last of these occasions the French capital was soon moved again to Vichy. In May and June 1940, Bordeaux was the site of the life-saving actions of the Portuguese consul-general, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who illegally granted thousands of Portuguese visas, which were needed to pass the Spanish border, to refugees fleeing the German Occupation.
From 1940 to 1943, the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina Italiana) established BETASOM, a submarine base at Bordeaux. Italian submarines participated in the Battle of the Atlantic from this base, which was also a major base for German U-boats as headquarters of 12th U-boat Flotilla. The massive, reinforced concrete U-boat pens have proved impractical to demolish and are now partly used as a cultural center for exhibitions.
Bordeaux's climate is usually classified as an oceanic climate however, the summers tend to be warmer and the winters milder than most areas of similar classification. Substantial summer rainfall prevents its climate from being classified as Mediterranean.
Winters are cool because of the prevalence of westerly winds from the Atlantic. Summers are warm and long due to the influence from the Bay of Biscay (surface temperature reaches 21 to 22 °C (70 to 72 °F). The average seasonal winter temperature is 7.1 °C (44.8 °F), but recent winters have been warmer than this. Frosts in the winter are commonplace, occurring several times during a winter, but snowfall is very rare, occurring only once every three years. The average summer seasonal temperature is 20.7 °C (69.3 °F). The summer of 2003 set a record with an average temperature of 23.3 °C (73.9 °F).
Climate data for Bordeaux
|Record high °C (°F)||20.2
|Average high °C (°F)||10.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.6
|Average low °C (°F)||3.1
|Record low °C (°F)||−16.4
|Source #1: Météo France|
|Source #2: Infoclimat.fr|
Bordeaux is located close to the European Atlantic coast, in the southwest of France and in the north of the Aquitaine region. It is around 500 km (310 mi) southwest of Paris. The city is built on a bend of the river Garonne, and is divided into two parts: the right bank to the east and left bank in the west. Historically the left bank is more developed because when flowing outside the bend, the water makes a furrow of the required depth to allow the passing of merchant ships, which used to offload on this side of the river. In Bordeaux, the Garonne River is accessible to ocean liners. The right bank of the Garonne is a low-lying, often marshy plain.
Bordeaux is a major centre for business in France as it has the 5th largest metropolitan population in France.
As of 2014, the GDP of Bordeaux is €32.7 Billion.
The vine was introduced to the Bordeaux region by the Romans, probably in the mid-1st century, to provide wine for local consumption, and wine production has been continuous in the region since then.
Bordeaux now has about 116,160 hectares (287,000 acres) of vineyards, 57 appellations, 10,000 wine-producing châteaux and 13,000 grape growers. With an annual production of approximately 960 million bottles, Bordeaux produces large quantities of everyday wine as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world. Included among the latter are the area's five premier cru (first growth) red wines (four from Médoc and one, Château Haut-Brion, from Graves), established by the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855: The first growths are:
- Château Lafite-Rothschild
- Château Margaux
- Château Latour
- Château Haut-Brion
- Château Mouton-Rothschild
- In 1855 Mouton-Rothschild was ranked a Second Growth. In 1973, it was elevated to First Growth status.
Both red and white wines are made in Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux is called claret in the United Kingdom. Red wines are generally made from a blend of grapes, and may be made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit verdot, Malbec, and, less commonly in recent years, Carménère. White Bordeaux is made from Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Sauternes is a subregion of Graves known for its intensely sweet, white, dessert wines such as Château d'Yquem.
Because of a wine glut (wine lake) in the generic production, the price squeeze induced by an increasingly strong international competition, and vine pull schemes, the number of growers has recently dropped from 14,000 and the area under vine has also decreased significantly. In the meanwhile however, the global demand for the first growths and the most famous labels markedly increased and their prices skyrocketed.
The Cité du Vin, a museum as well as a place of exhibitions, shows, movie projections and academic seminars on the theme of wine will open its doors on June 2016.
The Laser Mégajoule will be one of the most powerful lasers in the world, allowing fundamental research and the development of the laser and plasma technologies. This project, carried by the French Ministry of Defence, involves an investment of 2 billion euros. The "Road of the lasers", a major project of regional planning, promotes regional investment in optical and laser related industries leading to the Bordeaux area having the most important concentration of optical and laser expertise in Europe.
20,000 people work for the aeronautic industry in Bordeaux. The city has some of the biggest companies including Dassault, EADS Sogerma, Snecma, Thales, SNPE, and others. TheDassault Falcon private jets are built there as well as the military aircraft Rafale and Mirage 2000, the Airbus A380 cockpit, the boosters of Ariane 5, and the M51 SLBM missile.
Tourism, especially wine tourism, is a major industry.
Access to the port from the Atlantic is via the Gironde estuary. Almost 9 million tons of goods arrive and leave each year.
Bordeaux is covered by the three major telecommunication operators in France : France Telecom (Orange), Bouygues, and SFR. If you have a GSM cellphone with an international subscription, you should be able to give calls from anywhere in the city. It is also possible to find phone cabins, but some have been removed recently due to their decreased usage.
As for internet access, there are a few cybercafes in the pedestrian center, which are not expensive (from 2 to 4 euros per hour).
Most restaurants also offer free Wi-Fi.
Prices in Bordeaux
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.90|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€6.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€26.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€42.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€8.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€5.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€5.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€7.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.25|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€7.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€2.05|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€91.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€45.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€91.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.48|
Transportation - Get In
Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport is west of the city. It is a regional airport which serves mostly domestic flights, though there are international flights as well connecting Bordeaux to some European "hub" airports like Paris (Orly and Roissy), London(Gatwick and Luton), Madrid, and Amsterdam.
An express bus runs every 45 minutes to the city center, with stops on the demand. The same bus runs from Gare Saint Jean to the airport with three stops:
- . Office du Tourisme 12, cours du 30 juillet
- . Place Gambetta Arrêt 50-16-13 (devant le 38 & 39)
- . Barrière Judaïque (devant le 9 avenue de la République)
The fare is €7, but a reduced fare for those under 26 or over 60 is available for €6.
You can also take public transit (€1.40) from the airport to downtown. After you exit the airport "Arrivals" section, walk to the right and you will see a bus stop for route Number 1. This bus will take you directly to Gambetta (a short walk from the Hotel de Ville), or you can get off at "Lycée Mérignac" and take tramline A to the city centre.
The main train station (Gare Saint Jean) is located about 4 km from the center of town. Several trains per day (around one every two hours) go north (to Paris, about 3 hours, 25 trains a day, Angoulême, Poitiers), south (to Toulouse, Marseille, Montpellier (about 4 to 5 hours), up to Nice), and east (to Périgueux and Clermont-Ferrand).
Buses, trams and taxis leave from in-front of the station. Take Tram C to get to downtown if you are going to the more northern part, or a bus if you are going to the area around Place de la Victoire.
Long-distance buses seem to stop southeast of the train station along Rue des Terres de Borde by the rental car parking lots. Eurolines [www] provide bus service to the city—confirm the location of the stop on your tickets and with the somewhat surly staff at the Eurolines ticket sales office (across the street from the main entrance of Gare Saint-Jean).
If you're travelling with bikes European Bike Express [www] run a route from north of Leeds, stopping through the UK to Dover and then on towards Bayonne via Bordeaux. Passengers normally travel from the UK to Europe.
You can reach Bordeaux by car from the north (taking the A10 highway or N10), south (taking the A63 highway), and east. A beltway goes around the city.
If possible, avoid driving between 8-10AM and 4-7PM, as the beltway is usually overcrowded.
Transportation - Get Around
Bordeaux is quite a big city; however, most of the interesting attractions are in the town center. It is not recommended that visitors drive as it is always a hassle to park (and car parks are expensive), and there are often traffic jams in the narrow, old streets of the city.
The most interesting way to explore the city is by walking. As most of the town center is a 'pedestrian area', this is easy to do. If you like sports, you can rent roller-skates or a bike (see below) or you can make your way in town using the various bus lines. A small ferry boat permits to go from the western shore of the river to the eastern shore, and vice-versa.
Three efficient tramway lines are also available (A, B, and C), tickets cost €1.40 and covers unlimited journeys within one hour of validation.
The bus network is organized around a few main places, where it is possible to take buses to almost every destination in the city :
- Gare Saint-Jean (railway station, bus lines going to town center, university, and north of town, TBC agency),
- Place de la Victoire (bus lines going to town center, to the railway station, to the University, north and south-west of town,
- Place Gambetta (bus lines going to la Victoire, the railway station, west, north-west, north of town, TBC agency ).
- Quinconces (TBC agency).
Single fare tickets (€1.40) can be purchased from the driver on the bus although you shouldn't expect to receive change. The best thing to do is buy packages of 5/10 tickets for €5.40/€10.60 or a daily/weekly pass for €4.10/€10.60 from TBC Agencies (French: Espace TBC) at Gare Saint-Jean, Gambetta and Quinconces, all trips are good for one hour of unlimited transfers - you must validate your ticket each time you change buses/trams. You can also purchase these tickets from the automated machines at the tramway stops, all machines will accept coins and some of them will accept chip debit/credit cards. To qualify for the reduced student price of €6.30 for 10 trips you need to be a student IN Bordeaux and purchase an ID card (July 2010).
Avoid the buses on peak hours (8-10AM, 4-7PM) as the town center is usually totally jammed (and cars often block bus tracks), and buses are overcrowded.
Le Bus du Fleuve, as it is called, links the western and eastern parts of the city by a small cruise on the river. It is managed by the CGFTE, and you can therefore ride the ferry using a standard bus ticket. The bus goes from the Southern part of Quai Richelieu to the Place Aristide Briand, very close to the Aquitaine Bridge (one of the must-see in Bordeaux).
By electric bus and tramway
A new tramway [www] serves the town, crossing the Garonne via the Pont de Pierre. A distinctive feature of the tramway is that within the inner city, it has no overhead wires as it utilizes ground-level power supply system.
The electric bus, called la navette du centre-ville, is the only public transportation on pedestrian roads. There are no bus stops for this one: to board an electric bus, wave your hand to the driver - he will stop the bus and let you on. When you want to go out, just tell the driver.
All the maps, fares and times are on the TBC Web site (in French) [www]. Also, maps and times can be easily accessed with Google Maps, just select route "By public transit" when getting directions.
Bordeaux is very flat and has lots of bike lanes so it is very easy to get around the city by bicycle. The city has recently (February 2010) added a city-wide bike sharing program called VCUB [www](similar to Vélib in Paris), it is a cheap and easy way to see the city although the requirement to put down a €200 deposit before taking a bike might cause problems if you do not have a bank/credit card that works well with the system. A daily or weekly subscription is 1 or €5, respectively and each usage is free provided you do not go over 30 minutes (you can just return the bike and take out a new one).
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Bordeaux has made its wealth out of trade, and the local economic system relies heavily on shops and trading halls. The Pedestrian Center is basically full of stores of all kinds, from clothes to art, craftworks, food and wine etc. If you're looking for luxury items, head to Gambetta square and its surroundings.
Don't hesitate to buy some local music - Bordeaux music groups are on the rise! Check out Kap Bambino, an electronic music duo formed by singer Caroline Martial and beat-smith boyfriend Orion Bouvier.
Clothing is less expensive than in Paris, so wear comfortable shoes and head to Rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian precinct in Europe and the best place for shopping. For some cheap second-hand and vintage clothes, check out a shop called KiloChic on 40 Cours de la Somme. There are also a few AMOS second-hand stores in the city that offer a nice selection of second-hand and vintage stuff.
Of course, you can hardly leave Bordeaux, without taking home some of its beloved wine. Make sure you're aware of the customs rules at the airport.
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.
- Cafe du Port, 1, quail Deschamps, . It's dining with the ultimate view, the Left Bank on one side and the Pont de Pierre on the other. But it's not just the views that draw customers here in droves, the food's pretty good too. Especially consideing that the chef is the famed Phillipe Techoire. Under his command, you'll feast on beef rib roast, glass eye, and in the winter, roast pig's feet with mustard. Enjoy! A la carte €35.
- L'entrecôte, 4 Cours du 30 juillet, . A famous restaurant, where you can eat a piece of meat served with a secret sauce. No reservation but the queues can often be long. €17.
- Cassolette Cafe, 20 Place de la Victoire, . Well priced and hearty food. Tick your items off on the menu placemat. If you're hungry, consider trying "la menu goutatout" - a choice of any 5 small dishes ("cassolettes") including desserts.
- Chez Greg, 30-31, quail de la Monnaine, . Serving tasty dishes such as a tartine of red mullet, the ambiance of this restaurant puts customers at ease with its Philippe Starck chairs and walls lined with wine bottles. Speaking of wine, the wine bar upstairs is great for pre and post dinner tastings.
- Couleurs Cafe, 28, rue Pere-Louis-de-Jabrun, . It's the perfect little French bistro where you can take a well earned pause from the days activities and graze on some tasty light fare. The salads with the homemade bread rolls are a great choice, or you can indulge in some of the decadent cakes on offer.
- FERNAND, 7, quai de la Douane, , e-mail: [email protected]. every day for lunch and dinner. An authentic bistro next to the "Place de la Bourse", on the waterfront in the old Bordeaux : an old wooden decor and a very pleasant terrace in front of the Garonne and the "Miroir d'eau"; you can enjoy a French cooking who follows seasons with beautiful products like seafood, oysters, wild fishes from Arcachon, "Blond d'Aquitaine" beef etc., all of those, served by a warm and pleasant welcome.
- La Tupina, 6, rue Pas-de-la-Monnaine, . Regional cuisine at its best. Fresh local produce served generously and heartily. Meals are served in a Basque ambiance, with country tablecloths and wood chairs. Try the corn fed Landes fowl, and you'll understand why this earned La Tupina the Second Best Bistro in the world by the International Herald Tribune. Fixed price €45, A la carte €46.
- L'estaquade, Quai de Dueyries, . Situated on the Right Bank of the river (it is the building that just out over the water on stilts) you will get a great view of the Bordeaux waterfront at the same time as a delicious meal. Starters, Main Courses and Desserts start from €13,23,6 respectively.
- Restaurant Soléna, 5, rue Chauffour (10 minutes from Centreville, Meriadeck, Hotel Mercure, Hotel Budigala, Tram Line A), . Dinner, Wednesday- Saturday. Lunch and Dinner, Sunday.. New gastronomic restaurant owned and operated by a Franco-American couple dedicated to bringing farm fresh, local, sustainable produce of Southwest France to the table. Everything from the sauces to the ice cream and pastries are made in-house. Dining room is contemporary and organic, accented by Bordeaux limestone and French oak tables. Service is warm, friendly, without pretentiousness. Menu changes frequently according to season. Menu fixe €34, €39, €55.
Sights & Landmarks
Bordeaux is a historic city with many tourist attractions. The main districts are briefly presented here, which are listed according to their distance from the railway station.
- Les Quais — Great for going for a nice walk on the shores of the Garonne, enjoying a ride on a ferry boat, viewing a stunning landscape over the bridges of Bordeaux, or dancing the night away in the city's many nightclubs. The Quais, also known as the Port of the Moon, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Aquitaine Bridge is an architectural achievement unique in France.
- La Victoire — Historical monuments meet student life and bars.
- The Pedestrian Center — If you plan on shopping, or are looking for cultural activities, Bordeaux has a lot to offer - and it starts right here.
- Gambetta Square — The rich districts of Bordeaux start north - this part of the town is nicknamed "Little Paris".
- Quinconces Square — Be sure to check out the fountain monument to the Girondins, a group of moderate, bourgeois National Assembly deputies during the French Revolution..
- Meriadeck — The administrative center of Bordeaux, with one of the biggest libraries in France.
- Do not miss the Victory Arch (Roman architecture), at the center of La Victoire and a great example of the town's Roman roots.
- Relax and take a picnic in the lush Public Gardens, north of Gambetta square.
- The Girondins memorial on the Quinconces square is a fitting tribute to the Girondin députés that were guillotined by the Robespierre.
Museums & Galleries
- Musée D'Art Contemporain (CAPC), 7, rue Ferrère. Tuesday to Sunday 11AM-6PM (to 8PM Wednesday), closed Monday. Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Modern Art. The Richard Long slate line-up on the roof is a permanent feature. Exhibits are always changing and the museum is an inspiring place for installations. €5.50, free on the first Sunday of the month.
- Musée D'Aquitaine, 20 Cours Pasteur, . 11AM-6PM Tue-Sun. Stunning museum that exhibits Gallo-Roman statues and relics dating back 25,000 years. 4€ for permanent collections; 6.5€ for temporary exhibits.
- Musée du Vin et du Négoce, Cellier des Chartrons 41 Rue Borie, , e-mail: [email protected]. 1000-1800. Old equipment & new technology from 2000 years of wine production in the region, plus tastings.10€.
Things to do
- Have a walk along the Sainte-Catherine street in the Pedestrian Center and enjoy the scenery.
- Consider crossing the bridges or taking the ferry boat over the river.
- Climb the 243 steps of the tower of Saint-Michel, and enjoy the panoramic view of Bordeaux (entrance 5 Euro - free for EU nationals under 26).
- Spend some time at the miroir d'eau (water mirror) at the border of the river. Every now and then, it is filled with 2 cm of water, alternated with a cloud of mist.
- Have a drink and a dance at one of the many bars or clubs in Les Quais or La Victoire.
- Watch the ducks play in the big public park north of the center and escape from the city at the Jardin Botanique, Bordeaux's Botanical Garden. Around since 1855, the botanical garden is the perfect place to take a walk around its many paths, or just sit and relax. Guided tours are on offer, as well as occasional workshops and activities for children.
Bordeaux gardens open: end March to end October - 8AM-8PM; end October to end March - 8AM-6PM. Bordeaux gardens admission is free.
- Fly a jet fighter. You can fly the L39 Albatros from Bordeaux International Airport. Starts at €1950.
Football (soccer) is a very popular sport in Bordeaux, as the F.C. Girondins, the football club, is one of the best in France (avoid talking football in the city, it's another sensitive subject). Tickets for almost every game are easy to come by and can be purchased before the match at the ticket office 'Place Johnston' at the South West corner of the stadium or on the evening of the game at the turnstiles. Games against main rivals Marseille will sell out well in advance as will the fixtures against PSG, Lyon and usually St Etienne so don't travel without a ticket for one of these games. Expect to pay anything between 9 euros for the Virages Nord and Sud (behind the goals) to a maximum of 80 euros for the exclusive Presidential Suite.
The Virage Sud is an amazing experience for any football fan but be warned that everyone stands up on the seats, your view may be restricted by an impressive array of flags and they have a habit of lighting flares frequently during the match.
Despite the locals being extremely loud and passionate in their support, there are very few safety problems helped partially by the small numbers of travelling fans. In the past few seasons, there have been some clashes against supporters of Marseille and PSG but the vast majority of games end peacefully with both sets of fans mixing on the tram back to the city.
Explore the city on wheels as Bordeaux is a very nice city for practising roller-skating (or roller-blading) and other "skating sports".
Other sports that enjoy some support in Bordeaux include ice hockey, handball and mainly rugby. The two Bordeaux rugby clubs Stade Bordelais and Begles merged in 2006 to form Union CABBG. The club plays in the first division of Frances national leagues and usually plays its home games and Stade Andre Moga in the suburb of Begles, even if some prestige games are played at the Stade Chaban-Delmas (the stadium of the soccer team). Tickets for the seated stands are 10 euros.
Bordeaux Cricket Club are the vice champions of France and play regularly at Château Giscours in Médoc. Attendance is free and greatly encouraged.
Touring the vineyards and sampling the local wines are one of the greatest pleasures when visiting Bordeaux. It is the second largest wine-growing region in the world and produces over 800 million bottles annually. It produces some of the best and most prestigious wines in the world, some of the most famous being:
- Château Haut Brion
- Château Lafite Rothschild
- Château Latour
- Château Margaux
- Château Mouton Rothschild
- Château Ausone
- Château Cheval Blanc
Tours are available through many operators. Alternately, call ahead for reservations. Note that Haut Brion and Mouton are closed for renovation in 2010, while Latour generally only accepts serious collectors and professionals.
The annual summer wine festivals are held in tandem with the "Bordeaux-fête-le-fleuve" [www] celebrating the river, land, and international community. The most recent was held on 24–27 June 2010.
There are many tour operators for this region of France. They can organise your complete tour (including travel to and from Bordeaux and France) or they can arrange visits to wineries and château for you.
Bordeaux is lively during the day and continues throughout the night. If you're looking for a bar to hang out with friends or to enjoy watching a football match, head for La Victoire, as most of the pubs and bars of the town are here. Virtually, all the shops in the surroundings of this area are bars, and you'll likely be able to find one that suits your needs.
If you prefer dancing or clubbing, most of the night-clubs are on the Quais, near the train station. From rock to disco, dance to techno, you also have a lot of choice.
- Dick Turpin's, 72, Rue du Loup, , e-mail:[email protected]. One of the oldest English pubs in Bordeaux, popular with young and old alike. Good music, no TV.
- El Chuchumbe, 6, rue Causserouge, . Best place to go for a salsa dance, head there around midnight when bodies really start shaking on the dance floor. They serve great mojitos as well to complement the mood.
- Le Frog and Rosbif, 23, Rue Ausone. English pub near La Garonne with an all-English staff. A popular hangout for those who want to catch football or rugby matches.
- Le Break, 23, Rue de Candale. A popular hipster-like bar just outside la place de la victoire which plays great music and attracts a younger crowd. Arrive early if you want to get a table during the weekend.
- Xing-Xing, 20, Rue Piliers de Tutelle. An animé/manga themed bar with a very fun atmosphere.
- Le Café Brun, 45, Rue Saint Rémi. An old-looking but very cosy bar with a huge offer of Belgian beers and Whiskies.
- Shadow Lounge International, 5, rue Cabanac, . The place to go for the young and trendy, Shadow possess a certain sexiness to its decor that is very appealing, even the restrooms are marble. The DJ spins the latest tunes while the hip clientele sip on very expensive drinks.
Safety in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is not a city with a high crime rate. If you respect some simple rules, you shouldn't have any problems.
- Beware of pickpockets, mostly in crowded buses and in the pedestrian streets. Do not leave any luggage out of view as it might disappear. If you're taking the bus with a backpack, it's better putting it between your feet than keeping it on your back.
- Do not go to clubs or bars alone at night. If you are meeting with friends, meet outside the bar/club. It's easier to get inside when you're a pack.
- As another general rule, do not accept drinks offered by people you don't know, as some people may drug you and abuse you afterwards. There were several cases reported in Bordeaux. Take drinks directly at the bar or from the waiter.