Bordeaux - city and visitor guide

The historic capital city of Aquitaine

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 Bordeaux - the great port of southwest France

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Plan of central Bordeaux
Central Bordeaux : grey lines are tram routes.
Thanks to the top-quality wines produced in the local vineyards, Bordeaux is a city whose name, after Paris, is more recognisable than that of any other French city.
  The great port city - a popular stopover for cruise liners - can trace its origins as a capital city back almost 2000 years. In the year 70 AD, Bordeaux replaced Saintes as capital of the Roman province of Gallia Aquitania. Apart from some periods of conflict following the breakup of Roman Gaul, Bordeaux has remained the biggest city, and for most of its history, a capital city. firstly it was the independent Duchy of Aquitaine, then for three centuries Aquitaine was a possession of the Kings of England. Since the end of the Hundred Years' War, it has been part of France.
   From the 1960s to 2016, Bordeaux was the capital of the region of Aquitaine. Since 2017 it has become the capital of a larger area of southwest France called New Aquitaine, or Nouvelle Aquitaine, that stretches from the Limoges area in the north, as far as the Spanish border in the south.
   In 2007, the central area of old Bordeaux, known as the Port of the Moon on account of the crescent-shaped bend in the river, was designated a Unesco world heritage site. It is one of the finest unspoilt eighteenty-century cityscapes in the world.
    Like the old centre of Lyon, the historic centre of Bordeaux, where many of the streets are now closed to traffic, is remarkable not so much for individual monuments (though there are plenty of these to see... see Tourist attractions below) as for the historic city as a whole. The centre of Bordeaux has everything that one would expect of a vibrant modern city, shops, services, big stores, cinemas and lots more, but it has them in the framework of an architectural ensemble of stone buildings most of which date back to well before the twentieth century. The only building features that break the city's five-story skyline today are the towers of the cathedral, city gates  and other churches. A view of the central area of Bordeaux from across the Garonne is rather like a view of London from across the Thames in some eighteenth century print.... without the sailing ships.
    The harbour-side buildings along Bordeaux' s waterfront are set back about a hundred metres from the river. In the past the area was occupied by all the activities of the port; stores, offices, warehouses, cranes, and a roadway running the length of the port. Ocean-going merchant ships vied for spaces to tie up. Today all but the roadway has gone.. and the trams have returned. The rest of the space between the city and water's edge is a long promenade with pedestrian areas, water features and gardens; the only ocean-going ships that tie up are cruise liners.
Bordeeux - Pont Pierre
Panoramic view of the Stone Bridge, and behind it the 114 metre spire of St. Michael's Basilica

Tourist attractions in Bordeaux

Reserve Bordeaux tickets and tours in advance with Tiquets

       Bordeaux is a large city, but most of the principal attractions are located in, or close to, the old city area :
Grosse Cloche
Grosse Cloche

Places to visit near Bordeaux

A vineyard in the Medoc
A prestigious château vineyard in the Médoc 
     The department of Gironde, of which Bordeaux is the capital, is most famous for its vineyards.These are to be found on either side of the Gironde estuary to the northwest of Bordeaux, and also to the west of Bordeaux in the valleys of the Garonne and the Dordogne.


Click here for a choice of hotels in Bordeaux at best online rates, and the About-France.com hotel selection for Bordeaux.

Location and access

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Photo top of page : Place de la Bourse - one of the finest examples of 18th century urban architecture in Europe

Key tourist information for Bordeaux :

: Nouvelle Aquitaine
Nearby cities: Toulouse, Poitiers
Nearest airports: Bordeaux
Population:  877,000
Main sites: The historic 18th century city centre, the Grand Theatre, the cathedral, the city art gallery, the wine museum, the waterfront, the old city gates.
Nearby attractions:  The Bordeaux vineyards, Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat, Saint Emilion
Location Bordeaux

Bordeaux hotels

The About-France.com selection
Hotels for all budgets and all needs
★★★★ Hotel Majestic
Well rated four-star hotel in the old city, close to the Tourist office. Private parking available - daily charge.

★★★ Hotel de la Boetie
Well reviewed classic three-star hotel near the centre of Bordeaux.  Secure public parking available nearby - daily charge.

★★ Hotel Aquitain
Smart modern 2-star hotel in 19th century building near the station. Private parking available nearby - daily charge.

★★ Ibis Budget Bordeaux lake
Ibis budget hotel close to northern ring-road exit 4 on A630. 250 metres from tram stop on line C. Free onsite parking.
80 metres from lake.

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Photo panorama of Bordeaux at dusk, by Guillaume Flandre.
Stone Bridge by Vanessa F

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Bordeaux wines

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