Around France

Bordeaux Day 3: The Magnificent City

What can I say about the city side of Bordeaux other than “I love it!”? 

If I was in the business of designing a modern city, it would be just like Bordeaux. From the preservation of historic buildings and monuments to the food and public transportation, they’re doing it right in Bordeaux.





Perhaps that’s why the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Marie Juppé, is thought of like a rock star. He is considered a monumental player in promoting and revitalizing the city — from infrastructure to visionary new projects such as the La Cité de Vin.



La Cité de Vin


Throughout its existence Bordeaux has been a city fraught with war and nation-changing. From 300BC when a Celtic tribe settled Burdigala through the eighth century, Bordeaux was ruled by Romans (the capital of Aquitaine), the Vandals, the Visigoths, Franks and marched on by the Muslims, Basques, and the Vikings. (Click on the highlighted links for more history information.)

Port Cailhau, shown below, is part of the city wall from 1496



Porte Cailhau


In the 12th Century, Bordeaux gained importance throughout Europe with the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to the heir of the French throne, Louis VI who became King Louis VII. Eleanor later divorced Louis and married Henry of Anjou, aka King Henry II of England.

Some girls have all the luck!

OK … right … Eleanor also spent a good amount of time fighting in the Crusades and years in prison, but still …

Cathédrale Saint-André is the site of the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, the future king of France, in 1137.


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18th-19th Century Architecture

Bordeaux hit its stride in the 18th Century when most of the city’s downtown buildings were built with such elegance that it became the model for transforming Paris to a “modern” capital.  Today many of those structures still frame the boulevards, pedestrian walks, neighborhoods and parks.

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From the fine details of art and color found on private homes and public buildings, to the massive and ornate statues and churches, Bordeaux is a masterpiece of art and architecture.






Church of Saint-Louis in Chartrons

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One of the places I walked past dozens of times was the Opera House. My hotel was only a few steps away. I didn’t plan ahead and there were no tickets available for the current performance; however I sneaked into the lobby to take a few photos. Photos inside the Opera area were not allowed. (Be sure to check out the Opera’s website)


Opéra National de Bordeaux


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A memorial to the Girondins, a political faction during the French Revolution, is the centerpiece at the Place des Quinconces and one of the most vivid reminders of the French Revolution. 


Monument aux Girondins at Place des Quinconces


And who isn’t amazed at the Miroir d’Eau — the Water Mirror created in 2006 along the UNESCO sited Port de la Lune between The Place del la Bourse and the River Garonne?


Bordeaux food and shopping

Restaurants, food and places to shop are just as diverse and colorful as the rest of the city. Here are some of the stops I made through the city.


A cheese shop here …


Goat cheeses


A canele store there …

(a pastry that’s a legend – read more here)



Canele de Bordeaux with macaron and almond treat


Unique shopping galleries, big name brands and charming boutiques fill the town.







Perhaps the most memorable, however, is Bordeaux at night.


Opéra National de Bordeaux




Place de la Bourse


This isn’t a fraction of the sights and sounds of Bordeaux. I could go on and on. Now you know why I must return! 










8 replies »

  1. Great piece Deborah, your pictures and descriptions really do Bordeaux justice and make me want to hurry back!

  2. WOW you have finally out done yourself with this piece. The pictures are wonderful but more than the pictures you have made Bordeaux come alive and just make me and all your readers want to jump on any form of transportation to go for a visit. This is a great account of what the City has to offer.

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