Visiting Bordeaux - What to See and Do
(Bordeaux Merignac Airport BOD, France)
Formerly famous for its wine produce, Bordeaux has now sprung to life, offering tourists a vastly different holiday experience to that found in Paris
. Often referred to as 'Little Paris', the city illuminates a historic ambience of epic proportions. Once a sleepy city when it came to tourism, Bordeaux of the 21st century provides the perfect spot for sightseeing holidays.
Attractions are found across this sprawling city. Visitors can take in some magnificent sights around the district of La Victoire, and spend some time in the many bars and restaurants after the sun goes down. The city also boasts a pedestrian centre that is ideal for shopping adventures and other cultural experiences. Saint Catherine Street (Rue Sainte Catherine) awaits!
Just outside the city of Bordeaux are some of France's, and arguably the world's, most impressive wineries. Tours can easily be arranged via hotels in and around Bordeaux, so visitors can effortlessly access these extensive wineries and vineyards. With such a large resident university population, many tourists opt to stay in the heart of the city to enjoy its lively atmosphere at night.
Ten things you must do in Bordeaux
- Jardin Public is the main park found in the heart of the city. It has been sheltering locals and visitors since 1755, and contains a vast number of intriguing attractions. The city's botanical gardens, which are intimately landscaped, were first planted in 1855. The Girondins Monument (Monument aux Girondins) is also found in the park. Recent modifications to the waterfront esplanade make this the perfect spot for families.
- Standing since the 6th century, Bordeaux's Saint Seurin Basilica is an amazingly picturesque site. Labelled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the basilica is unmatched in its Romanesque beauty. History certainly comes alive inside this church, as 11th-century, 12th-century and 14th-century extensions give the structure a unique architectural facade.
- Dominating the skyline with its gargoyle-resting belfry, the Saint Andre Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-André) is a marvellous attraction that cannot possibly be overlooked. Built in the 9th century, yet redesigned between the 13th and 15th centuries, this World Heritage listed architectural gem is as eye-catching as any structure in Bordeaux, and quite possibly France.
- One of the highlights of Bordeaux is its Museum of Natural History (Musée d'Histoire Naturelle). This attraction is located within the Hotel de Lisleferme - a renowned site in itself. Tourists looking for a classic museum won't do better in the city, as there are hundreds of exhibits housed within dozens of exhibitions. The local flora and fauna collection in particular will captivate nature lovers.
- Those who adore art will be mesmerised by the always-fascinating Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux Arts). This attraction is home to a plethora of artwork from France's most illustrious artists. Flemish and Italian painters also have their work displayed within the museum's hallowed halls. Picasso, Matisse, Veronese and Frans Hals are just a few of the collections on show. Temporary exhibitions are held in the nearby Galerie des Beaux Arts.
- Opened in 2006, the city's second-most popular park attraction is the Jardin Botanique de la Bastide. It sits upon the right banks of the River Garonne, just opposite the Jardin Bordeaux. This six-sectioned green area boasts a vine alley, arboretum and water garden. Tourists may visit the park everyday without charge.
- Shopaholics will be happy to know that Bordeaux is not just all churches, museums and galleries. There is a healthy shopping culture along the Rue Saint Catherine. This pedestrian shopping mall is an open location stretching for more than a kilometre. The street is lined with phenomenal boutique shops and is anchored by the Galerie Bordelaise, which was established all the way back in 1834.
- The Romanesque-designed Holy Cross Church, which has been built and destroyed several times throughout its long history, is a treasured part of Bordeaux's cityscape. Even though the interior of the building is a marvel in itself, the brilliant Romanesque facade certainly catches the attention of passersby.
- The neo-classic Grand Theatre is found along the Rue Saint Catherine and is one of Europe's oldest wooden opera houses. The Opera National de Bordeaux currently resides at the site. The Grand Theatre can be recognised by its stunning row of Corinthian columns that support a dozen magnificent statues of Venus, Juno, Minerva and the nine Muses.
- Although often overshadowed by the other churches and cathedrals of Bordeaux, the dazzling Basilica of St. Michael is still a must-visit site. The bell tower protrudes a massive 114 metres / 374 feet into the skyline. The church is most renowned for its Gallo-Roman catacombs found beneath the bell tower.