Welcome to Bordeaux
An intoxicating cocktail of 18th-century savoir-faire, millennial hi-tech and urban street life, France’s sixth largest city is among Europe’s most exciting and gutsy players.
This is the world’s largest urban World Heritage Site, cradling half the city (18 sq km) in its Unesco-listed treasure chest. From the elegant symmetry of place de la Bourse, palaces strung with stone-sculpted mascarons (faces), to tree-shaded boulevards laced with hôtels particuliers (mansions) built for 18th-century wine merchants, Bordeaux architecture is world-class. Contemporary architects continue the trend for excellence, with breathtakingly wild and beautiful creations resembling giant wine decanters, gleaming white pebbles, all sorts. An interesting portfolio of art museums embracing all periods and genres is the icing on the cake to this magnificent architectural heritage.
Art de vivre
It’s hard to believe that this was a city that fell under British rule for three hundred years (from the coronation of Henry of Aquitaine as King Henry II of England in 1152). Staunchly Bordelais to the last breath, Bordeaux enjoys an overwhelming sense of local pride and savoir faire. Innovation is her middle name and a high-spirited, university-student population bolsters the compelling undercurrent of creativity rippling through the city. Peppering a tramline with monumental pieces of contemporary art, partying in a WWII submarine bunker, and dancing on a barge at the industrial wet docks is all second nature to this natural bon vivant.
Viticulture here is an ancient art and tradition bearing its own unique trademarks and no other vineyards in the world produce as much fine wine. Best up, from celebrated premiers crus aged for years to the very first vin nouveau cracked open at festivals after the autumnal harvest, dégustation (tasting) is an intrinsic part of daily life. Paired with the city’s exceptional dining scene – a sassy mix of traditional French kitchens, experimental neobistros, creative fusion restaurants, food trucks and barista-run coffee shops – there is no tastier marriage. Santé!