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Bordeaux City Info

Bordeaux Hotels

Bordeaux is described as a curious, original and unique town. Founded in the 3rd century B.C., it is famous for wine. The 1000 sq km wine-growing area around the city is France 's most important producer of top-quality wines, producing more than 850 million bottles in 1997. The region produces many varieties - reds, rosés, sweet, dry and sparkling wines - all according to strict government guidelines. The city is stunning when approached from the south along the river. It's big, with a population of over half a million, and obviously rich - as it has been since the Romans set up a lively trading centre here. Especially attractive is the relatively small eighteenth-century centre, paid for by the expansion of colonial trade. The rest is scruffy and, even with its long history, contains few sights. But if you're just passing through - it's the main regional transport centre - there are a couple of sights worth checking out, and plenty of cheap places to sleep and eat. The atmosphere is inviting and worth sticking around for.

The city itself boasts an air of 18th century elegance with its neoclassical architecture, wide avenues, and attractive public squares and parks. The centre of town lies between Place Gambetta and the Garonne River. The fascinating Musee d'Aquitaine on Cours Pasteur chronicles the history and ethnography of the Bordeaux area from 25,000 years ago up until the 19th century. The Centre d'Art Plastique Contemporain places just as much emphasis on showcasing the work of up and coming artists as it does on the works of established names such as Jackson Pollock. Stroll in the elegantly landscaped Jardin Public along Cours Verdun or in the oasis of calm and flowers that is Place Gambetta. The city's principal shopping area is just east of here along the pedestrianised Rue Porte Dijeaux. Check out the Galerie Bordelaise, a 19th century shopping arcade located at the junction of Rue Porte Dijeaux and Rue Sainte Catherine.

Bordeaux Tourist Attractions

Montesquieu's Domain

This abstemious and sober château was raised on 12th-century foundations, to be completely rebuilt in the early 14th century. It passed into the Montesquieu family in 1686 and three years later became the birthplace of Charles de Secondat, future philosopher and Baron de La Brède and de Montesquieu. Montesquieu's lifetime collection of documents and geographical maps was recently moved from the vast library to a special vault near the Bibliothèque de Bordeaux.

An Unusual Abode

Admiring the visionary mind of architect Charles-Edouard Le Corbusier, Bordeaux industrialist Henri Frugès commissioned him to create this unconventional neighbourhood. 50 houses were built in 1926, but they didn't become homes until 1929. The 1970s brought restoration and renewed respect for the buildings, which are now listed and protected in a national heritage zone (Protection du Patrimoine Architectural Urbain et Paysager). With only modest architectural alterations allowed, the whole neighbourhood will be preserved, while maintaining its original residential feel.

The Bordeaux Opera

Built by Victor Louis between 1773 and 1780, this is considered as one of the most beautiful 18th century buildings in Europe. Well-known companies, such as the National Orchestra of Bordeaux Aquitaine, perform here, but the program delights opera and ballet lovers as well. This superb theatre was renovated in 1990 and 1991 in shades of blue, enhanced with gilt. The Grand Café welcomes spectators and visitors wishing to have a coffee or lunch. One hour tours are available and cost EUR4.50.

Sober architecture and luxurious interior

This austere 18th-century building plays host to Bordeaux 's town hall. The building took 13 years to build (1771-1784). On two sides of the courtyard, low buildings link the main building to a colonnade. The rear façade is extended by two low baluster pavilions featuring bay windows adorned with garlands. Despite numerous renovations, the palace's original great staircase is still intact inside, as are a string of rooms on the ground floor, which boast of beautiful panelling, and a dining room decorated with trompe-l'oeil figures.

Large and busy shopping street

Entirely pedestrianized and over a kilometre long, this is the busiest shopping street in Bordeaux ; it is also one of the town's oldest thoroughfares. In Roman times, it was a major north-south road. Today, it is still important, since it links the Grand Theater to the Place de la Victorie. The street has borne the same name since the 18th century, in honor of the martyr saint whose chapel is located nearby.


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