A trip to Bordeaux

Bordeaux: fine wines and fine architecture, all in the one place!

Located in southwestern France, Bordeaux is France's fifth largest city, with just under 1.2 million inhabitants. Air France connects Bordeaux to multiple UK cities via Paris or Amsterdam. Typically, flights from London take as little as 3 hours 15 minutes.

Bordeaux airport
is located within easy reach of the city. Local buses, shuttle buses, rental cars, taxis and trains are all options for getting into the city centre.

Bordeaux experiences mild winters, sometimes hot summers, and rainfall all the year round. Thunderstorms are common in the summer months.

Outside France, the city is best-known for its local wines. Some of the most famous - and most expensive - wines in the world are crafted here. In France itself, Bordeaux has a reputation as a prosperous city with stunning municipal architecture to match. A trip to some of the local vineyards combines both of these facets of the city's character, given the sumptuous designs of many of the châteaux (wine estate buildings). It's possible to organize tours of many of these estates, combined with wine tasting sessions, either by contacting the estates themselves or by booking with Air France's tourism partners . If you're interested in learning more about the wine industry and its history, the recently-opened Cité du Vin centre is a great place to start.

In fact, Bordeaux boasts more listed buildings than any other city in France except for Paris. Many of these are works on a monumental scale. The Place de la Bourse with its reflecting pool (the world's largest) and the Place des Quinconces are both breath-taking. A large part of the city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site, specifically on the grounds of its urban architecture. Much of the present-day city was built in the 1700s, but there are many beautiful traces of its medieval period left to admire, such as:

  • the cathédrale St André
  • the église Sainte-Croix church
  • the Porte Cailhau city gate
  • la grosse cloche medieval gate and bell-tower
  • the Pey-Berland tower (a 66 metre high gothic bell-tower with a viewing platform)
  • the fort du Hâ

Bordeaux - for museums and festivals galore!

Bordeaux has an incredible variety of museums and galleries. Naturally, there are several institutions dedicated to the wine trade, such as the Musée des Compagnons du Tour de France. There are also those which delve into the history of telecommunications in the area; a tolls and customs museum; a natural history museum; a centre dedicated to Jean Moulin, a key figure in the French Resistance in WWII; several contemporary art galleries and the Musée des Beaux Arts, which includes works by Rubens, Titian, Matisse and Picasso.
For something a bit out of the ordinary, you may want to investigate a cultural venue which takes a little more finding, as it's underground! The old reinforced concrete submarine pens used by the German navy during the war now host everything from temporary exhibitions to concerts, plays and dance spectacles. The Base Sous-marine is only open for specific events, so do check in advance before visiting.
Bordeaux is something of a festival city. Antiques fairs, carnivals, book fairs, short film festivals, storytelling events, wine fairs and contemporary art events all have their 15 minutes of fame. But it's in the realm of music that you'll be really spoilt: classical music, organ music, world music, jazz, rock, reggae and more.
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