If you didn’t already know, the whole city of Bordeaux is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site being described as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble”. Therefore, touring the streets of Bordeaux is already a compulsory activity when visiting this stunning region. Filled with unique historical monuments as well as modern attractions, fabulous eateries and shops, Bordeaux is jam-packed with things to do and see during your visit.
With France’s colossal wine industry, wine tasting and taking a guided tour around France’s most productive vineyards are almost obligatory activities for travellers seeking to discover the most important facets of French culture. And what better place to do this than in a city whose name is known worldwide as a wine? It is of course Bordeaux. Sample France’s quality sweet wines, dry wines and different red wines for yourself whilst overlooking one of Bordeaux’s tremendously extensive vineyards. The combination of such an exquisite sight and the splendid aromas and flavours of France’s most prestigious wines on your palate will certainly take you to a place of calm and pleasure. To complete your Bordeaux wine experience, take a guided tour around some of the most famous vineyards of Bordeaux such as at Château Mouton Rothschild in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc region, Château de Pitray on the banks of the Dordogne River, Château Palmer in the Margaux Region, Château Canon in the town of Saint-Émilion, Château Coutet in Sauternes-Barsac region and Château Haut-Bailly in the Pesac-Leohnan region. These of course are to name but a few. Bordeaux has in fact over 8000 vineyards, therefore finding a vineyard in close proximity to where you may be will not be too difficult. Don’t forget to book your tour beforehand!
Official Bordeaux Tourism Office website: http://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com/
Visit the best cathedrals and churches of Bordeaux
In terms of cathedrals and churches, not many cities do it like the city of Bordeaux. Grand and sheer masterpieces are what can be said about the hard to miss stunning pieces of architecture which line the streets of Bordeaux!
- Saint-Andre Cathedral
Saint-Andre Cathedral, otherwise known as Bordeaux Cathedral, is probably Bordeaux’s most exceptional Cathedral and was one of the first landmarks in Bordeaux to appear on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Bordeaux Cathedral first began its existence in the 11th century, however much of the cathedral was rebuilt between the 13th and 15th centuries. Known for its impressive history and connections with the English, the Bordeaux Cathedral is greatly gothic in style and lined with stained-glass windows. Two spired support towers can be seen with a large rose-petaled window placed between them. On the north portal you can find extraordinary masonry carvings of arcades of angels, apostles, prophets, the Last Supper and Christ. On the roof of the Cathedral, and described as being even more imposing than the cathedral itself, are stone gargoyles with mammalian bodies and haunting faces. To the side and standing tall is a magnificent bell tower. Once inside, be courageous and climb the 232 narrow steps to the top of the tower where you will be rewarded with a splendid panoramic view over the city. Although dark and mysterious, the Saint-Andre Cathedral will not disappoint!
Official website: http://www.cathedrale-bordeaux.fr/
- Église Notre-Dame de Bordeaux
The Église Notre-Dame de Bordeaux, translated as ‘Church of Our Great Lady’ is a baroque-style Roman Catholic cathedral dating back to the late 17th century. Upon your entrance to the Notre-Dame Cathedral prepare to be welcomed by stone statues of St.Ambrose, St.Gregory, St.Jerome and St. Augustine, the four great doctors of the Latin Church.
- Basilica St.Michel
The Basilica St.Michel is a stunning Gothic style cathedral with a separate bell tower known as La Fleche that magnificently pierces the skyline beside it. La Fleche stands tall at 114m and is the second-tallest stone tower in all of France. The Basilica St.Michel was constructed between the 14th and 16th centuries and it was not until the 19th century that a Gallo-Roman cemetery and catacombs were discovered under the La Fleche Tower. The basilica is too listed as a historical monument of Bordeaux
Among these most famed Cathedrals are noteworthy churches such as the 14th century gothic-styled Église Saint-Pierre, the Church of St. Seurin dating from the 11th to the 15th century and the Église Sainte Croix or Church of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic abby first established in the 7th century and later built between the 11th and 12th centuries with its main feature being a restored organ built by Dom Bedos.
Stroll around the Esplanade des Quinconces
The 19th century-old Esplanade des Quinconces is an enchanting square surrounded by 30 acres of promenade and gardens which overlooks the Garonne River. The esplanade’s main attraction is an outstanding 50 m high structure which was dedicated to the National Assembly Deputies and the French Republic. Fixed at the top of the structure is a statue symbolizing freedom and the break from oppression; at the bottom are two striking fountains depicting Poseidon in his carriage. The Esplanade des Quinconces is a well-known tourist attraction that holds several events such as small carnivals, circus events and festivals during different periods of the year.
Gaze at the the Grand Theatre
The Grand Theatre is one of Bordeaux’s, as well as France’s, most innovative and glorious pieces of architecture which is found at the end of Place de la Comédie. You don’t actually have to enter the theatre to be impressed by it. From the outside, the Grand Theatre is one heck of a sight which is quite jaw-dropping. As you get closer and closer, the building becomes even more exquisite as, lining the front of the building, are Twelve Corinthian pillars decorated with statues that represent the nine Muses and the Roman goddesses Juno, Venus and Minerva. Of course, now that you are so close to the entrance, why not go inside and join fellow visitors or locals to watch an opera, a ballet or other musical performances. The interior of the Grand Theatre is equally splendid painted in blue, white and gold – the traditional colours of French royalty. For over 250 years, the Grande Theatre has had its doors open to the public and is known for holding magnificent productions, concerts and recitals almost on a daily basis making it one of the most popular attractions of the Bordeaux region.
Visit Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux
The meticulous and historical Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux is a beautiful open green space set in an industrial part of town in Place Bardineau, Aquitaine. Classically French, the picturesque and older part of the Jardin Botanique has a lake and perfectly arranged flowerbeds containing over 3000 plant species and exotic plant collections and flowers from North America, China and Japan. On the otherhand, the most recently established part of the Jardin Botanique has water gardens with footpaths to walk along, grass meadows and chalk hillocks. Within the grounds of the Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux which was Bordeaux’s first medicinal garden, is a great museum that contains a permanent collection of seeds, leaves, fruits and herbals with many botany seminars, educational workshops and events taking place here. The Jardin Bontanique is described as having meditative qualities and is an ideal location for those looking to switch the old city for a green and natural environment.
Witness fine art at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux is a museum of fine art established in 1801 and is one of the largest art galleries of France outside of Paris. It contains the largest painting collection and views the evolution of Occidental art from the Renaissance to the mid-20th century. In total, the museum presents the works of some 80 painters such as Tiziano, Van Dyck, Claude, Delacroix, Matisse and Picasso, so there is plenty to see.
Official website: http://www.musba-bordeaux.fr/en
Shop in Bordeaux longest shopping street
Not only is Bordeaux famous for its wine but also for providing locals and tourists with the longest shopping street in Europe, Rue Sainte-Catherine, which is found in the centre of Bordeaux. With all kinds of restaurants, cafés and shops ranging from affordable to exclusive lining this 1.2 km long street, Bordeaux is an excellent location for some well-earned retail therapy. Starting at Place de la Victoire and ending at Place de la Comédie by the Grand Theatre, you will find as you walk up this pedestrian only street that the shops on store become increasingly more expensive and classy. On Cours de l’Intendance is where exclusive shops and chic boutiques can be found…a definite must even if it’s just for a little bit of window shopping.
Walk the banks of Garonne and cross the Pont de Pierre bridge “stone bridge”
Whilst in Bordeaux, you must make time to walk the banks of the Garonne River and cross the Pont de Pierre, a picturesque stone bridge 486 metres /1,568 feet long constructed between 1819 and 1822. From here you will be enchanted by the beautiful view of the city. At night, when the Pont de Pierre is illuminated, its image is mirrored on the Garonne River creating a spectacular vision; a definite must-see. The Garonne River which measures 602 km, passing through many towns including Bordeaux, is bordered by splendid river banks where it is possible to stroll or cycle on. From these river banks, you will have amazing views over the landscapes and bridges of Bordeaux including The Aquitaine Bridge. It’s a great chance to see Bordeaux from a different perspective and immerse yourself in Bordeaux’s natural beauty.