Bordeaux, in the Gironde department, Aquitaine, southwestern France is famed for its wine but there is much more to it than that says Linda Mathieu as she samples the delights of this beautiful Region and checks out what to see in Bordeaux…
Bordeaux is a fabulous city situated on the Garonne River. The river snakes and curves its way through the city creating a crescent like area called the Port de la Lune, a marvellous place for strolling, jogging, or cycling. A city of graceful streets made for wandering, elegant in the most French of styles, a place where you can eat well and drink better, lively, dynamic and full of good grace – Bordeaux is a very special city indeed.
Bordeaux is also home to a very unusual fountain there known as “The Mirror”, thanks to the delightful reflection of the nearby Bourse across the way. It is well known for its ability to periodically create an interesting sort of fog and on hot day the locals enjoying cooling down in the watery mist in the square where it sits. The old part of Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its fabulous 18th century architecture. Here you will find winding cobbled streets, beautiful buildings, arches and clock towers that were once part of a wall that circled the city, several interesting churches and even the remains of an ancient Roman Coliseum.
It’s a delight to wander around Bordeaux but if your feet get weary you can jump on the little train that will take you around the city, take a bus or use the efficient tram to get around. Once you’ve built up an appetite oohing and aahing at the sites, check out the boulangeries and patisseries in the city which specialise in a Bordeaux cake known as a canelé. It’s a small pastry with a soft and tender custard centre and a dark, thick caramelized crust, you’ll find it’s time to ooh and ah a bit more!
Wine of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is the world’s major wine industry capital. It is also home to the world’s main wine fair, called Vinexpo, and the wine economy in the metro area takes in €14.5 billion every year.
Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century and was introduced to the area by the Romans. The vineyards of Bordeaux cover 287,000 acres and the most expensive wine in the world is produced there.
The city of Bordeaux is full of shops selling locally produced wine and it feels like there’s a wine tasting on every corner – indeed you can hardly walk down a street without seeing one going on. Tempting as it is to stay in the city and taste the wine, it’s also enjoyable to get out into the countryside and see the vineyards and wineries and get a sense of what it’s all about. Visit the Tourist Information office in the town and you’ll find lots of details of tours and if you have a car – just head out with a map and discover the beauty of Bordeaux’s vine growing countryside for yourself.
We visited the lovely village of Saint Emilion – it is one of those picture-perfect places, almost Disney like in perfection, and, as you might expect, packed with shops selling Bordeaux wine and offering tastings and advice. Knowing little about wine we threw ourselves upon the mercy of the wine merchant we visited and purchased some inexpensive bottles of Bordeaux. He told us to let it rest and age it for four to five years. We also bought some inexpensive bottles (I am not a wine buff, I like it but I don’t know much about it) to drink straight away.
At just 3 and a half hours train ride from Paris, it’s well worth a visit for visitors who want to see one of the most famous wine growing areas in the world and one of the most scenic places in France. You’ll also go home with a super souvenir! For a French holiday that offers spectacular countryside, amazing architecture, a beautiful city, the world’s best wines, and incredible French cuisine – Bordeaux is hard to beat…
Linda Mathieu, a native Texan, lives in France with her French husband. She was a Paris Tour Guide and is the author of Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide, available at www.amazon.com.
Read our review of Saint Emilion