Bordeaux: reasons to visit the French wine capital
Bordeaux has become one of the most important cities in France. The city’s winemaking tradition, urban complex and many cultural offerings have made it into one of France’s most popular tourist destinations.
Known as the “Pearl of Aquitaine”, Bordeaux stands out because of its historical centre that is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. So much so, that in 2007, UNESCO declared the port city of Bordeaux as a World Heritage Site.
Visiting this marvellous place is like going on an incredible journey in time, accompanied by its magnificent wines and excellent gastronomy. This article will give you more than one reason to encourage you to plan your next holidays there!
Visit ¨La cité du vin¨:
The history of wine in Bordeaux is as old as the city itself because, since the occupation by the Romans right up until today, Bordeaux has been noteworthy for its vineyards and the excellent quality of its world-renowned wines.
That is why a visit to ¨La cité du vin¨ is one of the most compelling reasons to go to Bordeaux. “La cite du vin” is an impressive building located on the shores of the Garonne River, that was inaugurated in 2016, where you can directly interact with the history and development of viticulture in Bordeaux.
“La cité du vin” has ten floors dedicated to the winemaking tradition. There are permanent and temporary exhibition rooms where you can see the most incredible subjects related to wine. There are completely interactive tours, available in eight languages, that take visitors back to the winemaking culture’s origins and follow its evolution over the years. There are workshops teaching participants how to best appreciate this exquisite drink. Moreover, there is viewpoint from where you can get magnificent panoramic views of the city.
This impressive building is a symbol of the city, not only because it gives visitors the chance to learn more about the history of wine and the winemaking process, but also because of its iconic architecture.
Visit the Saint-André Cathedral:
This majestic church dates back to the end of the 11th century and is one of the city’s main monuments. It stands out as one of the first Gothic buildings in the Aquitaine region and its historic value is so great that in December 1998, UNESCO declared it part of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela World Heritage Site in France.
The interior walls of the main room are the only part of the original building that have survived. However, although the Cathedral has undergone changes, it is still possible to see the influence of the Angevin style.
On the outside of the Cathedral, you can see some of its most important architectural features, such as the Royal Portal that is adorned with the magnificent work known as “The Last Judgement”. As visitors wander through the internal halls, they can admire the décor, dominated by the extraordinary stained-glass windows.
When you visit the Cathedral, you will have the chance to see the Pey-Berland Tower, built in the 15th century. It has a small spire which is surmounted by a statue of Our Lady of Aquitaine.
Enjoy yourself in Place de la Bourse:
When we think of Bordeaux, we always think of its prestigious vineyards and the image of this emblematic square. It was built in honour of King Louis XV of France, as well as to modernise the city.
Designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, Louis XV’s personal architect, this square is surrounded by symmetrically positioned buildings and, due to its majesty, is considered to be one of the most distinctive works of classic 18th century French architecture.
The square was home to important institutions of the period like the Stock Exchange Palace, that is currently the city’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Customs building that is now the Musée National des Douanes (National Customs Museum).
One of the areas that attracts most attention in the square is “The Water Mirror¨. This is the biggest structure of its type in the world and is very popular in summer, especially among children, who go to cool down running through its water jets.
Try the exquisite cuisine:
As you probably already know, the French are well-known, among other things, for their cooking skills and every region of the country has a long culinary tradition. The case of Bordeaux is no different and some of its traditional dishes are very popular.
One of its most popular dishes is Magret de Canard. This recipe uses lean meat from duck breasts and, although it is not difficult to prepare, in Bordeaux it is prepared differently, with a sauce made of red wine, shallots and spices.
Foie Gras is another speciality of this French region. Prepared with goose or duck liver, this is a classic product of Bordeaux and is normally eaten on special occasions.
Finally, I would also like to recommend one of the region’s typical desserts, canelés. These are small pastries prepared using eggs, sugar, milk, butter and flour and is flavoured with rum and vanilla. They have a delicate flavour and are normally eaten as an accompaniment or at the end of meals.