Bordeaux the wine is now better known than Bordeaux the place. True, a visitor here can enjoy some first-class plonk, but they can also enjoy first-class scenery, arts, and food.
Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All of it. This gives an idea of the depth of history behind the place. Settled by the Romans in 300 BC, the city still has the ruins of an amphitheatre, the Palais Gallien [Gallic Palace]. The Grosse Cloche, a medieval bell tower in the centre of the city, is one of the oldest in Europe. More recent additions, if you can call them that, include the Grand Theatre and Opera House, both built in 1780. All this has remained thanks to Jacques Chaban-Delmas, former mayor of Bordeaux, who slapped a preservation order on the city in the 20th century.
The food is delicious. Bordeaux’s close neighbour, Spain, has had a strong influence on local cuisine: you’ll find variations on tapas here. Longstanding trade routes have also brought oysters, saffron, and spicy Sichuan peppers from China.
The Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts houses works by artists as diverse as Picasso, Matisse and Titian, while the newly-opened Marine Museum offers a quirkier take on the museum experience. Finally, the vineyards surrounding the city make for rich, green scenery to frame your visit. These are fed by the Garonne River, which also runs through the city centre. The Garonne is crossed by the grand Pont de pierre [Stony Bridge], built on the orders of Napoleon.
Places to Stay: