A guide to Bordeaux
Surrounded by some of the world's most famous vineyards and France's second largest Atlantic port, Bordeaux is an elegant city with stunning 18th century architecture, tree lined boulevards and a culturally vibrant centre to rival even Paris.
With a history that is embroiled in the Romans, the fight with the English in the Hundred Years War, the wine trade and numerous Chateaux with stories of scandal between Royalty and the nobility, the Bordeaux region is one that is worth exploring. The city itself is beautiful, offering an outstanding architectural heritage and packed full of art galleries, excellent food, good shopping and wide boulevards which are largely pedestrianised.
Situated within the French Department of the Gironde, where the mouths of the rivers Garonne and Dordogne merge, Bordeaux and its wine region stretch from Soulac-sur-Mer and the Medoc in the north to the vineyards of Graves and Cerons in the south. The Cote d'Argent, Europe's longest beach, forms the coastline to the west and attracts many surfers to the Lacanau area and the coastal resorts of Arcachon, Pyla and Cap Ferret. Whilst to the east of the Department lie the vineyards of the Saint Emilion region that lead into the Dordogne.
This hilly region between the city of Bordeaux and the Saint Emilion wine region is named Entre-Deux-Mer (between two seas) because of its location between the two tidal rivers of the Garonne and the Dordogne. One of the most attractive regions in the area, Entre-Deux-Mers is scattered with ruined abbeys, attractive villages and expanses of vineyards. It was also home to the author François Mauriac and the artist Toulouse-Lautrec.
The city of Bordeaux houses a population of nearly 245,000 in 8 quartiers, which increases to nearly a quarter of a million if you include the population of the surrounding urban communities, the 27 communes of Bordeaux. It is often seen as a more reserved city, compared at least to its southern counterparts of Marseille and Nice, and the local 'Bordelais' can appear somewhat detached with their smart attire and strict observation of social rules and etiquette, but this increasingly cosmopolitan city is fast becoming a friendly and welcoming destination.
History & Culture in Bordeaux
With a history dating back to prehistoric times there are troglodyte caves, ancient ruins, Roman fortress, Chateaux and walled towns. the area was invaded by many different clans and nations over the years and has been ruled by several of them for sustained periods of time. The influence of the Celts, Romans and the English is still obvious today.
Also see: History of Bordeaux
Events in Bordeaux
Many of the annual events in the Bordeaux and the Girdonde region revolve around wine. The Spring fairs and the Autumn harvest festivals are often dedicated to the local produce - wine, truffles and the infamous Foie Gras.
But be rest assured this historical region also celebrates the arts and offers a wide range of musical and theatrical events throughout the year.
Sights & Attractions in Bordeaux
The history of the many towns, villages, vineyards and chateaux of the area make this a wonderful destination to explore. From art to agriculture there are a vast number of museums and galleries to wander through, as well as stately homes, well kept gardens, memorials and monuments.
A vineyard tour is a must, whether by bus, by car or by bike, there is no better place to sample French wine than in Bordeaux.
Things to Do in Bordeaux
From the long white sand beaches of the west coast to the rolling hills and vineyards of the north and eastern areas of Bordeaux you will not be short of things to do or to see in this area. Each town or village hosts its own market and is steeped in history making each one a gem of a place to visit.
Beaches in Bordeaux
The region is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and Europe's longest stretch of golden sand. Making the beaches perfect for all kinds of sports and, weather dependant, some sunbathing. Watersports are particularly popular with Lacanau being one of France's most popular surf spots.
The Ministry of Health in France provides up-to-date information regarding the cleanliness of beaches. The interactive map (which is available in English) allows you to zoom in on the beaches of interest and to review recent test results. The beaches and rivers are ranked from excellent (blue) to prohibited (pink), meaning that entering the water is strictly prohibited. The monthly testing and monitoring makes it possible to assess the effects of wastewater sanitation and dirty rainwater runoff into swimming sites.
Also see: Beaches in Bordeaux
Restaurants in Bordeaux
Known for it's great restaurants, the city of Bordeaux has a whole host of offerings for the foodies out there. From Michelin star luxury, to the smallest traditional clam shack the region has an abundance of fresh produce, seafood being at the heart of many dishes. But fear not, the vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, lactose and wheat intolerant are all well cared for too as this cosmopolitan city has an extensive choice of eateries.
Location: Bordeaux Region (Gironde)