And we have Bordeaux, a lot more than wines!!!

Today, I like to tell you about a very famous city for something it does not produce; you know… this is a glorious city and one very popular with the French today as can tell by the rising real estate prices; on the banks of a great river of the Gironde. The wines are world famous ,if not the best, me think they are for many years. Now, they are not produce in the city and I have always written on them, this time I would like to tell you a bit more on the city of Bordeaux.

Bordeaux is in the department 33 of the Gironde in the new region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Capital of the former Guyenne and an integral part of the Gascogne, culturally and linguistic; it is on the banks of the Landes de Gascogne  The city is about  172 km from Pau, 202 km from San Sebastian/Donostia Spain, and 220 km from Toulouse as well as 498 km from Paris. The city is crossed by the Garonne river with a port accessible to big cruise ships and the port de la Lune for touristic activities; other boating activities have been move upwards of the Garonne or Gironde rivers that goes over the Garonne with the Port d’Aquitaine. The rest is accessible by ferry boats along the statuary of the Gironde.

The city has an extensive highway system with many signs not so hard to get by and attention is needed not to pass the exits. It is link to Paris, Poitiers, Tours, and Orléans by the autoroute A10, to Périgueux, Limoges, Brive, Clermont Ferrand and Lyon by the A89, to Toulouse on the A62, Mont de Marsan and Pau by the A65, and Bayonne and Spain by the A63. It has a huge intricate beltway or rocade with heavy traffic always on its 45 km the longest beltway in France. It is composed of the autoroute A630 on the left bank of the Garonne river or the N230 on the righ bank, the continuation of the autoroute A10 and the intersection of autoroute A89 Is the A631, A62, and A63 . The first bridge was done in 1821 as the stone bridge or the pont de Pierre then the passarelle Eiffel done in 1860. It took some time but in 1967 the Pont d’Aquitaine was done between Bordeaux and Lormont. By 1965 the bridge or pont Saint Jean was finished and on 2013 the bridge or Pont Jacques-Chaban-Delmas (former mayor of Bordeaux) was done linking the districts of Bacalan on the left bank and La Bastide on the right bank . The bridge or Pont Simone Veil allows to cross the Garonne river on the south side. There is excellent TGV train coming from many cities especially for me from Paris Montparnasse to the Gare Saint Jean or St John train station in Bordeaux, built in 1855 first under the name of gare du midi. There is a nice airport in the nearby town of Mérignac about 12 km from city center Bordeaux. The network locally for public transport bus and tramway is Transports Bordeaux Métropole or TBM. From the quai Louis XVIII facing the Quinconces esplanade boats takes you on river rides along the nice facades of the the 18C mansions. The navette boat BatClub allows you to connect left and righ banks of the Garonne river between Bas-Lormont and Claveau on one side and Stalingrad to Quinconces on the other.

The old town of Bordeaux is part of the interior of the former ramparts of the city that corresponds to todays’ cours Verdun, cours Clemenceau, Place Gambetta, cours d’Albret, cours Aristide Briand, Place de la Victoire, and cours de la Marne, and to the east bordered by the Garonne river. In the Middle Ages two gates allowed to entered the city those of Porte Cailhau and Porte Saint Eloi aka de la Grosse Cloche . In the 15C the intendant Tourny decided to make wide avenues with lines of trees and several gates such as the Porte Dijeaux (1753) Porte d’Aquitaine (1754) and Porte de Bourgogne (1755), and Porte de la Monnaie (1759)..This gave ideas to Georges Eugéne Haussmann (Baron Haussmann) who was at the time the sub prevot of the Gironde to be inspired by Tourny and do the transformation of Paris by 1860. By the former Place Royale ,today the Place de la Bourse was opened in 1755 the facades of the quays that form for 1,2 km a collection of mansions and finally, created the Place Dauphine, Place Saint Julien and public promenades such as Allées de Tourny and the public garden to open the city to the inhabitants. You find two big axis crossing the city such as the rue Sainte Catherine that cuts the town north to south and the cours Victor Hugo continuing over the pont de Pierre that cuts the town in west to east. This rue Sainte Catherine is pedestrian for about 1300 meters (1,3 km) connecting the place de la Comédie to the Place de la Victoire; there are plenty of shopping around here!!!

North west of the old town center the neighborhood of Quinconces and Hôtel de Ville are plenty of restaurants cafes very nice and banks, financial services and luxury shops ; this is where the golden triangle is found around the cours Clemenceau , cours de l’Interdance, and the Allées de Tourny (our favorite spot) as it is the luxury window shopping of Bordeaux.. In the north of the city along the Garonne river you have the districts of Grand Parc and the Chartrons where many wine merchants are located. The neighborhood of Chartrons is name as such because the convent of Chartreux founded in 1381 while the 100 years war by the Chartreux of Perigord coming to take refuge in the marshes of this area , the place was connected to the city by the current cours Xavier Arnozan and a huge alley such as the cours de Verdun has many huge mansions style Louis XV and Louis XVI, the neighborhood of Saint Seurin is name after the Saint Seurin Basilica built around the Gallien palace, a very high price neighborhood with many consulates. The neighborhood of the Mériadec after the Prince of Rohan (Ferdinand Maximilien Mériadec, archbishop of Bordeaux who built the Rohan palace in 1771 and which by 1835 becomes the city hall or Hôtel de Ville.

A bit of history I like. The name of the city comes from the Burdigala in the 1C AD and while the French revolution ,convention 1792-1795 it was name the town of Franklin or “Commune-Franklin “.Bordeaux  becomes one important city in the Duchy of Aquitaine starting in 600AD and is the capital city of the county attached to the Duchy of VAsconia from 852 to 1032, and later the Duchy of Aquitaine under the successive authorities of the Counts of Poitiers, Capetians, until 1152. In 1453, following the Battle of Castillon (Chatillon-la-Bataille) the city becomes French possession and the war of the 100 years is over.  Following the execution of the parliamentarian Girondins on June 2 1793, the city rises up against the French revolution and the terror of it comes to Bordeaux with 304 executions of men and women

During WWI as Paris is threatens by the arrival of the Germans, the French government takes refuge in Bordeaux  and is located at 17 rue Vital Carles. During WWII, the French government again seek refuge in Bordeaux this times at the city hall and the same  Rue Vital Carles by Weygand, De Gaulle at the Hotel Majestic near the quai Louis XVIII   A few days later as the French government is ready to signed the armistice the Consul of Portugal Aristides de Souza Mendez delivered in nine days visas  that allowed over 30K refugees to escape the advance of the Nazis troops. The Nazis leave Bordeaux  in August 28 1944 after sinking several boats in the river to stop the coming of the allies over the Garonne river; the cleaning of it takes several years and even today you see at low sea some of the debris.

The fine arts museum or Beaux-Arts one of the oldest museums in France with a great diversity and amplitude of its collections especially from the 19C, 20C . The Aquitaine museum inheriting the collections from the Lapidaire museum created in 1783 by the Academy of Bordeaux to house all the Romans artifacts and urban works of the 16C and mostly from the 18C, since 1962 moving up to a museum of history ,archaeology, and regional Ethnography. The decorative arts and design museum located in the mansion Hôtel de Lalande housing rich collections of French decorative arts and mainly Bordelais from the 18C, and 19C as well as collection of paintings, engravings, miniatures, sculptures, furniture, ceramic, glasses, jewelry etc etc. The Jean Moulin Center (name after a national hero of the French resistance) for documentation of WWII showing documents of the times that perpetuates the memory of this period of history and to appreciate the work of the resistance for the liberation of France. The quaint nice Wine and trade museum of Bordeaux opened since 2008 in the neighborhood of Chartrons. Here in three cellars semi underground the museum shows a collection of unique historical objects with many witnesses to the past and present and several documents and posters to explain the trade of wine business in Bordeaux.

You have the Institut Cervantes formely known as the Casa de Goya , is an apartment located in the cours de l’Intendance in city center that was the last home of Spanish painter Francisco Goya that came to lived in Bordeaux in 1824 to escape the absolutism of king Fernando VII of Spain,and where he died in 1828; expositions by the artist from the Spanish cultural center of Bordeaux. The wonderful Cité du Vin or city of wine opened in 2016, and already a hit showing the way to the wine regions of Bordeaux.

You have the magnificent Saint Andre Cathedral in the gothic style. The Saint Michel Basilica, of flamboyant gothic style, another must see. The Saint Seurin Basilica, the abbey of Sainte Croix, a Roman style Church and one former abbey of the Benedictine monastery. The Church of Saint Paul baroque style from the 17C . You have the greens in the Bois de Bordeaux with 86 hectares and in addition 50 hectares of prairies and lakes ; the Parc Floraide with 33 hectares and the botanical garden with 4,7 hectares located across the Garonne river at La Bastide, created in 2003. Not to forget another must see the Grand Théatre dedicated to the opera and the dance. These are just some of my favorites there is so much to see here.

 Here are some additional webpages that will help you plan your trip to the Bordeaux, the one and only, and another possible retirement home for me, already looking forward to vacationing in summer here again, wine and beach ,great.

City of Bordeaux on tourism in French :

Tourist office of Bordeaux:

Gironde dept 33 tourism

Region of Aquitaine tourism on Bordeaux :

There you go  , hop on to Bordeaux, and in vino veritas. Hope you enjoy the post and do show some cheers! Happy travels , good health and a great weekend, I am off tomorrow ::)

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6 Comments to “And we have Bordeaux, a lot more than wines!!!”

  1. I’ve passed through Bordeaux a number of times and finally, this summer, I’m going to spend 5 days enjoying the city’s splendours. So this is all very useful info to assist with planning my days.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I only visited Bordeaux briefly to take my son to the railway station on his way to Béziers, on the opposite side of southern France. We had a coffee outside the station and even round there the city looked very pretty. We stayed in a campsite at Gradignan, on the south side of the city, with lovely walks in the woods. It looks like Bordeaux itself deserves a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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