A port city on the Garonne River, Bordeaux is known for its cultural sites, great weather, proximity to Paris and, of course, the fact that it is the hub of France’s wine country. The city and the surrounding countryside are a fascinating destination even if you don’t have a sip of wine. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel have been to Bordeaux and can set up a trip for you based on personal experience!
It’s wine country!
We’ll talk wine first. Bordeaux IS first and foremost, wine country. The only area that makes a bigger imprint on the world wine scene is in Italy. Bordeaux has great weather the year round and it’s actually where Paris residents like to visit. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a vineyard. Grapes, and wine lovers, love Bordeaux. It’s the soil, the water, the weather, the way the wind blows and years and years of experience that make the wine renowned around the world. The Left Bank is cabernet sauvignon and the Right is merlot with white and dessert wines interspersed into both areas.
Even if you don’t go to Bordeaux because its the wine reputation, take at least one vineyard tour. You are visiting the second largest wine producing region on Earth, you owe it to yourself to take a vineyard tour. See the vat rooms and cellars, see how wine is made and stored. Be one of the people that experience tasting world-class wine on the grounds of a chateau.
About the vineyard tours, you need an appointment. After all, making the best wine in the world is work and you are actually entering a workplace. Tours usually last an hour to an hour and a half and, of course, end with tasting. Your travel advisors can discuss vineyard tours with you when you book your vacation.
You want to pace yourself and not book oh say five or six tours in a day. That’s not going to work because of the distance between vineyards and the tasting time. Tasting means sipping wine, not throwing down a glass like its last call.
Two wine museums
Two museums devoted to wine? Yes! The Musée du Vin et Du Négoce de Bordeaux or the Bordeaux wine and trade museum is located in the historic Chatrons district. Built in 1720, it was the former wine cellar of Louis XV. Trace the history of three centuries of wine including the background behind wine trade, the work of coopers — the makers of wine barrels — learn about the invention of the bottle, shop for souvenirs and wine and your visit will end with wine tasting.
The Cite du Vin looks a little like a UFO. It is all things wine, in a world-wide context, as an immersive interactive experience. The world’s largest wine museum, it opened in 2016. It has eight floors of exhibits as well as a wine bar, wine library, permanent as well as temporary exhibits and it should not be missed!
The Cite du Vin is set up to celebrate wine and its history. There are spectacular panoramic images of wine regions around the world, Videos, touch screens, a fun (yes, fun) explanation of fermentation. The portraits of wine are surrounded by wooden bottle sculptures. Touch the portrait and it will tell you about the wine. Aroma machines waft the fragrance of wine around and famous historical figures as well as present day chefs and winemaker give virtual chats about their favorite wine.
There’s a lot more than wine
The central area of Bordeaux has one of the world’s most amazing 18th century cityscapes. It has modern stores, theaters and retail establishments, but they are all in the framework of old century buildings. There are no glass-fronted office buildings and the tallest structures are cathedral towers and church spires
The Musee de Beaux Arts is renowned for its extensive collections of French and Dutch art including works from Van Dyck, Ruebens, Titian, Chardin, Delacroix, Corot, Boudin, Bounard and Matisse.
One of the most beautiful cathedrals in France is the Primatial Cathedral of St. Andrew of Bordeaux or the Bordeaux Cathedral. A stunning example of medieval gothic architecture, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII were married here. The cathedral’s north entrance is considered the royal entrance and a recessed area above the door shows images that appear to be the last supper. The Grand Theâtre de Bordeaux was built by architect Victor Louis and atop the 12 front columns are large statues of muses and goddesses. The facade is particularly striking at night because the front as well as the statues are lighted.
St. Michael’s Basilica is constructed in a form of late gothic architecture. It is the largest church in Bordeaux and the second tallest church in France.
The Miroir d’Eau is the largest reflective pool in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, it was designed with the help of a fountain architect.
Shopping? Oh yes, the Rue Sainte Catherine is the longest pedestrian street in Europe. And you can truly shop until you drop. Start at the north end and wander through clothing stores including major outlets and work your way to the south which features regional shops as well as restaurants and cafes.