Bordeaux is the largest and most important city in the French department of Gironde. It is also the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, which is quite popular among Dutch tourists. The beautiful old town from the world famous wine region has many attractions. For example, the city has more than 300 historic buildings. Since the city is car-free for large parts, it is ideal for impressive walks through the center or along the river. The increasing prosperity of the 18th century is clearly visible through the grand squares, luxurious mansions and imposing churches from that time. With a visit to one of the many museums you have the opportunity to learn more about the history of this important medieval city.
According to ELECTRONICSENCYCLOPEDIA.COM, Bordeaux is more than history. People here are serious about the future. How can the city be made more sustainable? How do we increase the quality of life in the city? How do we make Bordeaux as attractive as possible for tourists and residents, without losing its own identity? These are issues that the board of Bordeaux has seriously considered in recent years. The result is a city that is truly contemporary, but where old elements are beautifully woven into the streets, squares and buildings. Bordeaux has found the right formula to create balance. This has led to a city where almost everyone will feel at home.
Bordeaux ‘s Top 10 Things to Do
#1. Port de la Lun e
Originally the name Port de la Lune (in Dutch: Maanhaven) belongs to the old seaport of the city that lies on the river Garonne. Nowadays, ‘Port de la Luna’ refers to the old historical part of the city of Bordeaux. This old part was once located within the city walls. It covers the entire area between Place de la Victoria to Place de la Comédie and Place Pey-Berland en de Garonne. Many old historic buildings dominate this area, which is also known as the melting pot of humanism, culture and universality. A walk through the historic city center of Bordeaux takes you past atmospheric squares, great shops and nice restaurants where you can pamper your inner person.
#2. Place de la Bourse
The spacious Place de la Bourse is also seen as the symbol of the city’s prosperity. Over the years, the square has had several names. It was called Place Royale after its construction in 1749 and Place de la Liberte, followed by Place Royale again during the Revolution. Since 1848 it bears the name Place de la Bourse. On this square you will find the beautiful fountain ‘Fontaine des Trois Grâces’, the National Museum of Customs, the stock exchange building and a luxury hotel. In 2006, the Miroir d’Eau was built on the quay in front of the square to give the Place de la Bourse extra strength. It’s a huge reflective bath. The depth of the water is only a few centimeters. So it is not intended for swimming. During summer days, children in particular walk on the Miroir d’Eau to enjoy the splashing water.
#3. Bordeaux Cathedral
Bordeaux has several churches and other religious buildings. Some of the churches are centuries old. A good example of this is the Bordeaux Cathedral. The official name is Cathédrale Primatiale Saint-André de Bordeaux. Built in the Gothic style between the 12th and 14th centuries, this cathedral is the main church in Bordeaux. If important weddings have to be performed in Bordeaux, it happens here. Funerals of high-ranking people usually take place here as well. Although it has been modified several times over the years, there are still original parts dating from between the 12th and 15th centuries. The main entrance is particularly ornately decorated with beautiful sculpture.
The accompanying Tour Pey-Beland was built a little later than the cathedral itself. This Gothic tower has been set aside from the cathedral because of the difficult ground. You can visit and climb the tower for a fee. A fantastic view over Bordeaux is the reward for this effort.
#4. Esplanade des Quinconces
On the spot where a huge fortress once stood (Château Trompette), you can now find the largest square in all of France. The Esplanade des Quinconces covers an area of no less than 25.6 hectares. By way of comparison: this is twice the size of Amsterdam’s Museumplein. Visually, the Esplanade des Quinconces consists of three parts: a large open center, where only the impressive Monument aux Girondins has been given a permanent place, and two large strips filled with trees. The quincunx pattern in which the trees are planted form the basis for the name of this square, which was built in the 19th century. If fairs, fairs or other major events are held in Bordeaux.
#5. Cite du Vin
While visiting Bordeaux, you will find yourself in the capital of one of the most important wine regions in the world in many different ways. Think of the different wine shops that have a wide range of beautiful Bordeaux wines. A good example of this is L’Intendant, which is known far beyond the region for the sometimes rare grand crus that you can buy here. In a city like Bordeaux, a wine museum should of course not be missed. Since 2016 you can visit the La Cité du Vin. This sleekly designed museum is a real eye-catcher from the outside. Some call it the Guggenheim of Bordeaux. The fact is that the architecture of the building by Anouk Legendre and Nicholas Desmazières can be called special and striking to say the least. The Cité du Vin really stands out, especially during sunny days.
During a visit to the Cité du Vin you will learn everything about wine. From how wine is made and the history of wine, to taste palettes, grape varieties and marketing. Of course, the different wine regions of Bordeaux are highlighted during a visit to this cool museum. You end your visit with a wine tasting on the top floor, where you can enjoy a beautiful view over Bordeaux.
#6. Grand Theater
Where a Gallo Roman temple once stood, the city’s stunning neoclassical theater has stood since 1780. The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux seats about 1114 people who can enjoy great opera performances here. For those who don’t like opera, the outside of the theater is a sight to see. The facade with twelve columns and above it as many statues are impressive to say the least. This portal comes into its own after noon. Then, weather permitting, it is illuminated by the sunlight. This makes the building stand out even better.
Bordeaux has several hip places with a unique character. The best example of this can be found in the La Bastide-Niel district. Niel’s former military barracks was bought in 2009 by the Evolution group, after which the abandoned place was transformed into a hip location where skaters, hipsters but also more average people feel at home. Beautiful expressions of street art, a huge skate park and an organic restaurant (General Store) form the basis of this now very popular hangout. About 250 companies and 40 associations are now located in the former barracks. Ecological awareness is a core task within Darwin. The reuse of items and buildings therefore forms the basis. The name Darwin is applicable in several ways to this place that you must also see as a tourist. Think of evolution: by adapting the complex to the current time and circumstances, it survives. The awareness of nature and the role of humans in this also play a role in the choice of name.
#8. city gates
Its location on the Garonne has enabled Bordeaux to become an important city quite early on. Where prosperity reigned, there were dangers lurking in the past. City walls were built to protect cities such as Bordeaux from unwanted guests. City gates allowed you to leave or enter the protected city. Such gates have largely lost their role over the years. The gates dating from the Middle Ages and later centuries now mainly have a monumental function. The most beautiful real city gate is the medieval Porte Cailhau,. This is on the eastern side of the center. The slightly younger Porte de Bougogne looks more like a triumphal arch. This city gate is an extension of the Pont de pierre. The space around this gate makes it extra emphatic. Traffic now drives around the gate here.
#9. Musee d’Aquitaine
Many different museums are located in a city like Bordeaux. Something for everyone, so to speak. Art is, of course, a common subject in museums, from medieval painting to contemporary installations that can be interpreted in various ways. A museum that we think belongs in the top 10 places of interest in Bordeaux is the Musée d’Aquitaine. This regional museum covers the history and development of Aquitaine and Bordeaux. You will be taken step by step in the history of this fascinating region.
#10. Pont de pierre
Bordeaux is located on the Garonne. It took quite some time before a permanent connection was established between the right bank and the city on the left bank. The Pont de pierre is the first bridge to be built. This stone bridge was commissioned by the then French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte. It took twelve years (from 1810 to 1822) to cross the Pont de pierre. Today, the oldest bridge in Bordeaux is only used by pedestrians, cyclists and the metro. Cars and motorcycles are banned because of the fragility of the construction. This also fits in well with the plan to make the center of Bordeaux car-free. The best time to view Pont de pierre is in the evening.