The word 'Bordeaux' is of course synonymous with French wine and indeed, a visit to this beautiful port and world wine capital on the banks of the Garonne River will offer you plenty of opportunity to sample some of the region’s revered vintages for yourself. River cruisers from the UK will feel particularly at home here too, as despite its connection with the celebrated French export, Bordeaux has a distinctly British legacy, having been controlled by Great Britain for around 300 years. When it comes to heritage, you’ll experience it the moment you arrive, as Bordeaux’s historic port is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Indeed, Bordeaux is one of France’s most rewarding cities with a wealth of cultural and architectural attractions to experience.
Bordeaux’s expansive Place Royale and its original and beautiful water feature are the city’s premier attraction for visitors, and it’s easy to see why. This huge city square features an ingenious fountain which takes up much of the square; completely flat, it creates a stunning water mirror which reflects the opulent architecture and at night, the miriad lights which populate the square. It’s fun to watch visitors ‘walk on water’ and the square is awash with splendid photo opportunities. Another contemporary landmark and one which you’ll catch site of when you arrive in port is the Jaques Chaban Delmas bridge. It’s a state-of-the-art wonder and the whole central section rises hydraulically to allow for the passage of ships.
Of course, Bordeaux has a wealth of historical landmarks to explore, too. Its Grand Theatre national opera house is one of the most renowned and whether you take in a show or not, you won’t fail to be impressed by its elaborately designed interior. Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux is another popular landmark, a gate which marks the entrance into the city’s medieval quarter and which features an eye-catching clock. Another elaborate city portal popular with visitors, is Porte Cailhau, emmediately recognisable thanks to its distinctive fairy-tale turrets. When it comes to beautiful faith buildings, Bordeaux boasts some popular ones well worth seeing, such as the 17th century St Andre Cathedral and Notre Dame Church, which is almost as beautiful as its more famous Parisian namesake.
For many, a visit to Bordeaux wouldn’t be complete without a wine-tasting excursion, whether that be an organised tour or simply a leisurely stroll taking in a laid-back riverside café or two and the vintages on offer there. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of picturesque chateaux a little outside Bordeaux itself, such as Chateau Pape Clement and Chateau Saint Ahon, which offer guided tours and wine-tastings if you’re a little more serious about getting more acquainted with the region’s most famous exports. If a simple stroll off the tourist trail is more what you have in mind, Bordeaux public garden is a beautiful and peaceful green space offering a pleasing amount of 18th century charm.
A number of river cruise lines offer itineraries which include overnight stays in Bordeaux, so if you do find yourself with an evening to spend in the city, Les Quais and La Victoire are two great districts in which to enjoy the nightlife. Famous wine vintages to sample include Chateaux Latour, Chateaux Cheval Blanc, Chateaux Pavillion and Chateaux Haut Brion.