How pretty is Bordeaux? Well, when Napoleon III commissioned Baron Haussmann to spruce up the squalid streets of Paris, Haussmann looked to the grandly-scaled avenues and elegant buildings of Bordeaux as his inspiration.
Bordeaux is a small city with a worldwide reach, thanks to the wine business it has dominated since at least the 13th century. Vinexpo, the largest wine fair on the planet, is held here each June.
Local wines with international fame include the First Growths of Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Margaux, Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion, Château Mouton-Rothschild.
Though there is no subway, an easy to use tram system winds through the entire city. A picturesque water taxi is also available from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily along the city’s Garonne River.
BORDEAUX – PLACES TO SEE
- Esplanade des Quinconces, the biggest city-center esplanade in Europe
- The Cathedral and the two basilicas, Unesco World Heritage Sites
- The squares of old Bordeaux, with their craft shops and cafe terraces
- Place de la Bourse (pictured below)
With almost as many museums as Paris, local must-sees include:
- Musée des Beaux Arts (Fine arts museum), one of the finest painting galleries in France with paintings by painter such as Tiziano, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Claude, Chardin, Delacroix, Renoir, Seurat, Matisse and Picasso
- The archeological and history museum (Musée d’Aquitaine)
- Musée du Vin et du Négoce (museum of the wine trade)
- The museum of decorative arts (Musée des Arts Décoratifs)
- Musée d’Histoire Naturelle (natural history museum)
- Centre d’arts plastiques contemporains (CAPC) (contemporary art museum)
- Musée National des Douanes
The Aquitaine region is located in the southwest of France. The region’s capital city of Bordeaux is roughly 350 miles from Paris. Bordeaux is easily accessible via TGV rail.
Aquitaine is one of France’s premier wine growing regions. Varieties include Margaux, Medoc, Sauterne, and Saint-Emilion among others. A visit to Aquitaine is a delight for the wine enthusiast.
Aquitaine is also a region of wide open spaces which includes Europe’s largest untouched forest. The region is also home to some of France’s best golf courses and some wonderful beaches at Biarritz (pictured below).
History buffs and followers of royal intrigue will be taken with Aquitaine’s past. A former duchy ruled by Eleanor of Aquitaine (wife of both Louis VII and Henry II of England). Eleanor bore ten children one of which became known as Richard the Lion-Hearted. She was considered one of Europe’s first feminists and was also one of its first romantics.
Visit the website of the tourist office of Aquitaine for more information.