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.
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.
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.
CATHÉDRALE SAINT-ANDRÉ (Bordeaux Cathedral)
Bordeaux city tour: 19th Century Architecture
Bordeaux hit its stride in the 1800s 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.
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.
Private residences in Bordeaux along the public park
Church of Saint-Louis in Chartrons
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
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 city tour: 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.
Steak and frites
Scallops and ham
Salmon pasta with pennants
La Belle Epoque
A cheese shop here …
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.
Bordeaux city tour: At night
Perhaps the most memorable 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!
More about Bordeaux:
3 Perfect Days in Bordeaux
Wine Tour Bordeaux: The Secrets of Great Wine
Day 2: Wine Tour Bordeaux Cité de Vine