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You'll be raising your glass many times in Bordeaux, which is renowned for its wines, considered among the best in the world. As the capital of the department Gironde in the region Aquitaine, it has one million inhabitants in its metropolitan area at a 2008 estimate. After years of neglect, the former wet docks are the country's new hot spot, with a number of cafés, gardens, and museums springing up all the time. A lively university community of over 60,000, (Bordeaux Campus is the largest in France) establishes that Bordeaux is about more than just wine. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a historic city with many tourist attractions. The main districts are briefly presented here, which are listed according to their distance from the railway station.
- Les Quais— Great for going for a nice walk on the shores of the Garonne, enjoying a ride on a ferry boat, viewing a stunning landscape over the bridges of Bordeaux, or dancing the night away in the city's many nightclubs. The Aquitaine Bridge is an architectural achievement unique in France.
- La Victoire— Historical monuments meet student life and bars.
- The Pedestrian Center — If you plan on shopping, or are looking for cultural activities, Bordeaux has a lot to offer - and it starts right here.
- Gambetta Square — The rich districts of Bordeaux start north - this part of the town is nicknamed "Little Paris".
- Quinconces Square — Be sure to check out the fountain monument to the Girondins, a group of moderate, bourgeois National Assembly deputies during the French Revolution..
- Meriadeck — The administrative center of Bordeaux, with one of the biggest libraries in France.
- Do not miss the Victory Arch (Roman architecture), at the center of La Victoire and a great example of the town's Roman roots.
- Relax and take a picnic in the lush Public Gardens, north of Gambetta square.
- The Girondins memorial on the Quinconces square is a fitting tribute to the Girondin députés that were guillotined by the Robespierre.
- Musee D'Art Contemporain at 7, rue Ferrère. Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Modern Art. The Richard Long slate line-up on the roof is a permanent feature. Exhibits are always changing and the museum is an inspiring place for installations. The CAPC is open Tuesday to Sunday 11AM-6PM (to 8PM Wednesday), closed Monday; admission is €5.50 (£4), but free on the first Sunday of the month.
- Musee D'Aquitaine, 20, cours Pasteur. Stunning museum that exhibits Gallo-Roman statues and relics dating back 25,000 years. Hours- 11AM-6PM Tue-Sun. Free entry for permanent collections; temporary exhibits cost around €5 for adults.
Bordeaux is a flat city, built on the banks of the Garonne River. It is also the largest French city by area and geographically one of the largest in Europe. The Garonne merges a dozen kilometers below the city with another river, the Dordogne River to form the Gironde Estuary, which is biggest estuary in France.
The city center is located west and south of the Garonne. To the east are a few hills - the only ones in the vicinity. These hills mark the beginning of an industrial zone and suburbs. Because it is a flat city, bicycles make excellent modes of transport, especially as the city has more than 580 km of cycle tracks. Bordeaux is among the most economically dynamic cities in France.
Due to the weakness of the subsoil, there are no skyscrapers in Bordeaux, which explains its sprawl. The center of the town has retained its traditional stone mansions and smart terraces, hence the reason behind the city being called "Little Paris".
Modern buildings can be found to the west (administrative center) and south (university) of the city.
- Have a walk along the Sainte-Catherine street in the Pedestrian Center and enjoy the scenery.
- Consider crossing the bridges or taking the ferry boat over the river (see Les Quais).
- Climb the 243 steps of the tower of Saint-Michel, and enjoy the panoramic view of Bordeaux (entrance 5 Euro - free for EU nationals under 26).
- Spend some time at the miroir d'eau (water mirror) at the border of the river. Every now and then, it is filled with 2 cm of water, alternated with a cloud of mist.
- Have a drink and a dance at one of the many bars or clubs in Les Quais or La Victoire.
- Watch the ducks play in the big public park north of the center and escape from the city at the Jardin Botanique, Bordeaux's Botanical Garden. Around since 1855, the botanical garden is the perfect place to take a walk around its many paths, or just sit and relax. Guided tours are on offer, as well as occasional workshops and activities for children.
Bordeaux gardens open: end March to end October - 8AM-8PM; end October to end March - 8AM-6PM. Bordeaux gardens admission is free.
- Fly a jet fighter . You can fly the L39 Albatros from Bordeaux International Airport. Starts at €1950.
Football (soccer) is a very popular sport in Bordeaux, as the F.C. Girondins, the football club, is one of the best in France (avoid talking football in the city, it's another sensitive subject). Tickets for almost every game are easy to come by and can be purchased before the match at the ticket office 'Place Johnston' at the South West corner of the stadium or on the evening of the game at the turnstiles. Games against main rivals Marseille will sell out well in advance as will the fixtures against PSG, Lyon and usually St Etienne so don't travel without a ticket for one of these games. Expect to pay anything between 9 euros for the Virages Nord and Sud (behind the goals) to a maximum of 80 euros for the exclusive Presidential Suite.
The Virage Sud is an amazing experience for any football fan but be warned that everyone stands up on the seats, your view may be restricted by an impressive array of flags and they have a habit of lighting flares frequently during the match.
Despite the locals being extremely loud and passionate in their support, there are very few safety problems helped partially by the small numbers of travelling fans. In the past few seasons, there have been some clashes against supporters of Marseille and PSG but the vast majority of games end peacefully with both sets of fans mixing on the tram back to the city.
Explore the city on wheels as Bordeaux is a very nice city for practising roller-skating (or roller-blading) and other "skating sports".
Other sports that enjoy some support in Bordeaux include ice hockey, handball and mainly rugby. The two Bordeaux rugby clubs Stade Bordelais and Begles merged in 2006 to form Union CABBG. The club plays in the first division of Frances national leagues and usually plays its home games and Stade Andre Moga in the suburb of Begles, even if some prestige games are played at the Stade Chaban-Delmas (the stadium of the soccer team). Tickets for the seated stands are 10 euros.
Bordeaux Cricket Club are the vice champions of France and play regularly at Château Giscours in Médoc. Attendance is free and greatly encouraged.
Touring the vineyards and sampling the local wines are one of the greatest pleasures when visiting Bordeaux. It is the second largest wine-growing region in the world and produces over 800 million bottles annually. It produces some of the best and most prestigious wines in the world, some of the most famous being:
- Château Haut Brion
- Château Lafite Rothschild
- Château Latour
- Château Margaux
- Château Mouton Rothschild
- Château Ausone
- Château Cheval Blanc
Tours are available through many operators. Alternately, call ahead for reservations. Note that Haut Brion and Mouton are closed for renovation in 2010, while Latour generally only accepts serious collectors and professionals.
If you are an individual you can take daily wine tours with OPHORUS, ☎ +33 633051009, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. that organizes small group tours departing from Bordeaux and that head towards all the major vineyards of the region: Saint Emilion, The Médoc, Graves and Sauternes... The excursions take place on board 8-seater fully equipped minivans and are taken care of by professional English speaking driver guides.
DMjWineworks, e-mail: email@example.com. is Dewey Markham, Jr., an American award-winning wine author who has been living in Bordeaux since 1993. Dewey creates custom-made itineraries for individuals and groups, and accompanies vistiors to vineyards throughout the Bordeaux region.
The annual summer wine festivals are held in tandem with the "Bordeaux-fête-le-fleuve"  celebrating the river, land, and international community. The most recent was held on 24–27 June 2010.
There are many tour operators for this region of France. They can organise your complete tour (including travel to and from Bordeaux and France) or they can arrange visits to wineries and château for you.
Gastronomy has a very important place in the city, which is full of restaurants of all kinds. French restaurants provide dishes from almost every part of the country, and there are a lot of Asian, African or Arabian restaurants.
- Cafe du Port, 1, quail Deschamps, ☎ +33 5 56 77 81 18. It's dining with the ultimate view, the Left Bank on one side and the Pont de Pierre on the other. But it's not just the views that draw customers here in droves, the food's pretty good too. Especially consideing that the chef is the famed Phillipe Techoire. Under his command, you'll feast on beef rib roast, glass eye, and in the winter, roast pig's feet with mustard. Enjoy! A la carte €35.
- L'entrecôte, 4 Cours du 30 juillet, ☎ +33 5 56 81 76 10. A famous restaurant, where you can eat a piece of meat served with a secret sauce. No reservation. €17.
- Cassolette Cafe, 20 Place de la Victoire, ☎ +33 5 56 92 94 96. Well priced and hearty food. Tick your items off on the menu placemat. If you're hungry, consider trying "la menu goutatout" - a choice of any 5 small dishes ("cassolettes") including desserts.
- Chez Greg, 30-31, quail de la Monnaine, ☎ +33 5 56 31 30 30. Serving tasty dishes such as a tartine of red mullet, the ambiance of this restaurant puts customers at ease with its Philippe Starck chairs and walls lined with wine bottles. Speaking of wine, the wine bar upstairs is great for pre and post dinner tastings.
- Couleurs Cafe, 28, rue Pere-Louis-de-Jabrun, ☎ +33 5 56 48 28 58. It's the perfect little French bistro where you can take a well earned pause from the days activities and graze on some tasty light fare. The salads with the homemade bread rolls are a great choice, or you can indulge in some of the decadent cakes on offer.
- FERNAND, 7, quai de la Douane, ☎ +33 5 56 81 23 40, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. every day for lunch and dinner. An authentic bistro next to the "Place de la Bourse", on the waterfront in the old Bordeaux : an old wooden decor and a very pleasant terrace in front of the Garonne and the "Miroir d'eau"; you can enjoy a French cooking who follows seasons with beautiful products like seafood, oysters, wild fishes from Arcachon, "Blond d'Aquitaine" beef etc., all of those, served by a warm and pleasant welcome.
- La Tupina, 6, rue Pas-de-la-Monnaine, ☎ +33 5 56 91 56 37. Regional cuisine at its best. Fresh local produce served generously and heartily. Meals are served in a Basque ambiance, with country tablecloths and wood chairs. Try the corn fed Landes fowl, and you'll understand why this earned La Tupina the Second Best Bistro in the world by the International Herald Tribune. Fixed price €45, A la carte €46.
- L'estaquade, Quai de Dueyries, ☎ +33 5 57 54 02 50. Situated on the Right Bank of the river (it is the building that just out over the water on stilts) you will get a great view of the Bordeaux waterfront at the same time as a delicious meal. Starters, Main Courses and Desserts start from €13,23,6 respectively.
- Restaurant Soléna, 5, rue Chauffour (10 minutes from Centreville, Meriadeck, Hotel Mercure, Hotel Budigala, Tram Line A), ☎ +33 5 57 53 28 06. Dinner, Wednesday- Saturday. Lunch and Dinner, Sunday.. New gastronomic restaurant owned and operated by a Franco-American couple dedicated to bringing farm fresh, local, sustainable produce of Southwest France to the table. Everything from the sauces to the ice cream and pastries are made in-house. Dining room is contemporary and organic, accented by Bordeaux limestone and French oak tables. Service is warm, friendly, without pretentiousness. Menu changes frequently according to season. Menu fixe €34, €39, €55.
- Chez Julio, 4 rue de la Maison Daurade, ☎ +33 5 56 52 44 65, e-mail: email@example.com. A famous restaurant, where you can eat a large variety of traditional South-West dishes. €25.
Bordeaux is lively during the day and continues throughout the night. If you're looking for a bar to hang out with friends or to enjoy watching a football match, head for La Victoire, as most of the pubs and bars of the town are here. Virtually, all the shops in the surroundings of this area are bars, and you'll likely be able to find one that suits your needs.
If you prefer dancing or clubbing, most of the night-clubs are on the Quais, near the train station. From rock to disco, dance to techno, you also have a lot of choice.
- Dick Turpin's, 72, Rue du Loup, ☎ +33 5 56 48 07 52, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the oldest English pubs in Bordeaux, popular with young and old alike. Good music, no TV.
- El Chuchumbe, 6, rue Causserouge, ☎ +33 5 56 31 25 88. Best place to go for a salsa dance, head there around midnight when bodies really start shaking on the dance floor. They serve great mojitos as well to complement the mood.
- Le Frog and Rosbif, 23, Rue Ausone. English pub near La Garonne with an all-English staff. A popular hangout for those who want to catch football or rugby matches.
- Le Break, 23, Rue de Candale. A popular hipster-like bar just outside la place de la victoire which plays great music and attracts a younger crowd. Arrive early if you want to get a table during the weekend.
- Xing-Xing, 20, Rue Piliers de Tutelle. An animé/manga themed bar with a very fun atmosphere.
- Le Café Brun, 45, Rue Saint Rémi. An old-looking but very cosy bar with a huge offer of Belgian beers and Whiskies.
- Shadow Lounge International, 5, rue Cabanac, ☎ +33 5 56 49 36 93. The place to go for the young and trendy, Shadow possess a certain sexiness to its decor that is very appealing, even the restrooms are marble. The DJ spins the latest tunes while the hip clientele sip on very expensive drinks.
Bordeaux has made its wealth out of trade, and the local economic system relies heavily on shops and trading halls. The Pedestrian Center is basically full of stores of all kinds, from clothes to art, craftworks, food and wine etc. If you're looking for luxury items, head to Gambetta square and its surroundings.
Don't hesitate to buy some local music - Bordeaux music groups are on the rise! Check out Kap Bambino, an electronic music duo formed by singer Caroline Martial and beat-smith boyfriend Orion Bouvier.
Clothing is less expensive than in Paris, so wear comfortable shoes and head to Rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian precinct in Europe and the best place for shopping. For some cheap second-hand and vintage clothes, check out a shop called KiloChic on 40 Cours de la Somme. There are also a few AMOS second-hand stores in the city that offer a nice selection of second-hand and vintage stuff.
Of course, you can hardly leave Bordeaux, without taking home some of its beloved wine. Make sure you're aware of the customs rules at the airport.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Bordeaux on Wikivoyage.