The name Bordeaux most commonly passes our lips when we are talking about French wine, but the city of Bordeaux has more to offer than just its famous grapevines. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known as Port of the Moon, filled with stunning historic architecture largely unchanged for over two centuries.
There are over 350 buildings and monuments listed as Historic in the city and in the past decades a major project has been undertaken to clean the facades and put in a tram-service with no overhead wires to mar the beauty of the city.
Greeting arriving ships to the port is a one kilometer stretch of gracious historic palaces which line the quay built in the 17th and 18th century - even back then Bordeaux was keen to make a good first impression on visitors and it continues to do so today.
How to Get to Bordeaux
This is a river port which lies 60 miles (90 km) inland from the Bay of Biscay. Ships travel up the Gironde Estuary and the Garonne River for about six hours before heading under a suspension bridge and round a bend to reveal the city of Bordeaux in all its 18th century magnificence. Ships dock alongside the quay, right in the heart of the city. To reach the historic city all you need to do is cross the road.
One Day in Bordeaux
If you have only one day in Bordeaux you will need to choose between wine and architecture. If you choose wine there are many excursions outside town to respected vineyards such as Medoc and Chateau Mouton Rothschild and pretty wine towns such as Saint-Emilion. If your preference is for architecture - and perhaps shopping and dining - Bordeaux is a wonderful city to explore on foot, or on the new improved tram system.
The opera house Opera National de Bordeaux is the cultural heart of the city and an elaborate building in itself as well as host to world-class music. Place Parlement is filled with outdoor cafes for people watching, and St Andre Cathedral is a lovely 17th-century church. Place de la Bourse (Place Royale) is a pinnacle of the style of the city and is wonderfully lit up at night. And of course there are many places you can taste, learn about and buy wine from the local region.
The language spoken is French but Bordeaux has many visitors so English is spoken in many shops and restaurants, although the French may be reluctant to use it. The currency is the Euro. Be aware that the river is tidal so the gangway may change angle quite dramatically over the hours as the waters rise and fall with the tide. These tides are also the reason the river is murky.