Bordeaux, only equaled by Champagne and Napa, is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. Known for their spectacular vineyards, you would only be scratching the surface you believed there are only 100,000 vineyards in Bordeaux! This city sits in southwest France and is not far from the Bay of Biscay. This beautiful crescent-shaped city is located along the Garonne River and has been the wine capital for many decades. You will discover its prominent past in each magnificent building on display within the Golden Triangle area. At one point in time, the city was a mess with pollution, traffic jams and a great deal of urban decay. Today, this wonderful city has become a rejuvenated village loaded with charm, beautiful 18th Century buildings, chic boutiques, cafés, a pedestrian-friendly city center and a vibrant waterfront area.
Bordeaux is renowned for its world of art, exceptional theater, and fine dining. Grab your travel guide and plan your amazing trip or vacation to this wonderful place in southwestern France.
Bordeaux is actually a flat city that was built on the banks of the river and is the largest city in France and, geographically, it's the largest city in Europe. To the east of the city are some hills, but that's it. These few hills mark the industrial area and the suburbs. Bicycling is a perfect form of transportation due to the city's flatness. The city has more than 50 km of bicycle tracks. Today, Bordeaux is one of the most dynamic and economical cities in all of France.
The center of the city is located south and west of the Garonne River. The Garonne River converges with the Dordogne River 12 kilometers below the city. This convergence formed the Gironde Estuary, which the largest waterway in France.
Due to the deficiency of Bordeaux's subsoil, there are no skyscrapers in the city, this is why the city is so sprawling. The center of the town has maintained its beautiful stone mansions and magnificent terraces which have given the city the nickname “Little Paris.”
The University to the south and the Administrative Center to the West are the only truly modern buildings throughout the region.
The Best Time Of Year To Visit Bordeaux
June and August are the peak months for visitors comprising of mostly French and Europeans. If you prefer fewer crowds, the spring months would probably suit you better. The crowds are low and so are various rates around the city. Crowds are also lower in the fall months, but the downside to visiting that time of year are the activities. Starting in September, the wineries are harvesting and do no allow visitors. Although December can get chilly, it's an absolutely beautiful time to visit for its splendid Christmas festivities. Keep in mind, no matter when you visit, you will experience some showers. Spring and fall have quite a few showers while the summer months just get scorching hot.
Seasons & Temperatures
Bordeaux has been blessed with a wonderful climate, thanks to the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are very mild and have only reached low temperatures once in a while, harming the vines. As this happens very rarely, vines seldom have to be replanted. During the month of September, rainfall and thunderstorms can be very heavy. Spring and Fall are actually pretty mild times of the year. On the other hand, summers have become increasingly hotter.
The History of Bordeaux
As the regions of Burgundy and Mosel, Bordeaux's history of wine making dates back to the Roman Empire. There are some mentions of vines in various poetry from the 4th century. Though there is little information to support that theory, it is believed that grapes were grown here much earlier than Roman times. It would make sense as this area is ideal for growing grapes and there are wine presses that date back to Roman times if not earlier.
Though there is very little information regarding grape growing before the 12th century, since that era, the production of wine has been Bordeaux's stock and trade. Wine hit an all time high with the marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Their union also put the region under the control of English rule. The English wanted to encourage trade from this area and offered a nice tax break to the French merchants. The wines from Bordeaux were very inexpensive in England and, therefore, became very high in demand.
Further on in history, Bordeaux started trading with German and the British Isles. This truly extended the reach of the region and its reputation. Bigger names in winemaking moved to the Aquitaine region to set up business in order to get a piece of this very lucrative pie.
This area literally became the most important wine region in the entire world. Even though there were set backs caused by powdery mildew and other diseases that threatened the vines, Bordeaux survived them all and is still one of the most valuable wine regions in all of France and the rest of the world.
The Vineyards & Wines
Currently, there are more than 13,000 wine growers in Bordeaux and approximately 9,000 châteaux wine producing bottled wines. There are a great variety of grapes in this region. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most common in the region. You can also find Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Carmenère, Sémillon, Petit Verdot, Merlot Blanc, Muscadelle, Colombard and many other selections.
The Nightlife of Bordeaux
Unlike a few years ago, the Bordeaux Nightlife has a large variety and range from vibrant to offbeat elegance. There are three very distinctive areas:
The Bordelaise crowd starts off the evening on a terrace at the Le Régent, 46 place Gambetta. They will order a Littlet which is an apéritif, blending white wine, orange juice and quinine liquor. Then head out on to the vibrant streets to place de la Victoire, St-Pierre, du Parlement, Camille Julian and, of course, Gambetta. For those night owls, they will head to the clubs and bars that stay open til the early morning hours such as the Quai du Paludate.
For those who prefer nightclubs with live music, head over to the L'Aztecal at 61 rue du Pas-St-Georges. This club has the most marvelous Latin American dance setting, beautiful tropical décor and extravagant drinks.
Another very popular Bordeaux spots is the disco Le Monseigneur on Orleans. This club caters to the very cosmopolitan crowd every night. This club is also very popular with visitors because this place sits right in the part of town that is heavily frequented by tourists.
If you are a Jazz freak, head over to Comptoir du Jazz on Quai de Paludate. It's free to enter this club but has a one-drink minimum. Le Jimmy is a very popular rock club that is big with the all night crowd.
Since 2010, the fashionable Bordelaise have been spending more time in the northern city center known as the Bassins a Flot, or “wet docks.” Complete with contemporary places such as the moored Le Dame de Shanghai “the dancing deck below”, the area rocks. Originally, this area of the city was non-existent, but all has changed making it one of the most active nightlife areas in all of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux is constantly evolving with the newest, most sought after hangouts and enticing locals as well as many visitors. The city is no longer a place just for touring vineyards; it's so much more!