Photo : Gilles Arroyo
Now the part you’ve been waiting for: Bordeaux may have some of the best architecture in the world, but the city’s main attraction is the wine. First, some numbers: The Bordeaux region is home to 65 different appellations over 120,000 total hectares of vineyards. In an average vintage, Bordeaux wineries produce 700 million bottles of the good stuff—and we mean the really good stuff. Approximately 22 bottles of
Bordeaux wine are sold every second around the world. While you can find some very good Bordeaux at your local liquor store, much of the very best is kept within France, so you need to make the trip to experience the best Bordeaux has to offer.
The Bordeaux Tourism and Convention Bureau officially lists six separate wine "trails" that encompass most of the hundreds of wineries around the region. If you want to visit a handful of vineyards, the only way to do it is to pick a trail, find an organized tour for the trail, and go. The 80K tour through the Médoc Region (also known as the "Chateau Trail" for the many historic chateaus along the way) is the most popular and visits many of Bordeaux most famous wineries.
Visit Bordeaux-tours.com for more information.
Photo : Vincent Bengold
The Bordeaux Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096 and was the site of the royal wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII in 1137. The Cathedral is open to the public and is free of charge, although donations are accepted. It’s particularly renowned for its’ stained glass, especially the giant rose window on the front façade. The Cathedral of Saint Andrew might be Bordeaux’s oldest monument, but the Basilica of St. Michael is the most impressive. Built between 14th and 16th centuries, it’s 114-meter bell tower soars above the rest of Bordeaux and is visible anywhere in the city. If you’re up for a little workout after the marathon, you can take the stairs all the way to the top of the bell tower for the best views in Bordeaux.
For performing arts lovers, a visit to the Grand Théatre de Bordeaux to see an opera or ballet is a must. Built in 1780, it rivals some of the great opera houses of Italy and Vienna as being one of the best in the world. It’s open for paid tours during the afternoon and hosts performances most nights of the week. Check Opera-bordeaux.com for a schedule. Bordeaux’s stunning architecture extends to its bridges, especially that Pont de Pierre and the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas. The Pont de Pierre was built in 1820, after being ordered by Napoléon and was once of the most technologically advanced bridges in the world at the time. It has 17 separate arches to correspond with the number of letters in the name “Napoléon Bonaparte.” If you’re more impressed by modern architectural achievement, the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas is perhaps the most impressive vertical-lift bridge in the world. The lifts raise the main span of the bridge 250-feet in the air to let large tankers and cruise ships through.