Garonne River Pont Neuf
Photo by: AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker, Creative Commons

In South West France, on the banks of the Garonne River, lies Bordeaux, the largest city in area in the country. Widely renowned for being the producer of the best wines in the world, Bordeaux is a city that will delight any traveler. In fact, the historic part of Bordeaux has been described as ‘an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble’ in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The restoration in most parts of the city has brought about the appearance of shops, cafes and restaurants. Bordeaux has a youthful, relaxed ambiance that will make any traveler feel the joie de vivre of the city.

The major attraction in Bordeaux are the vast vineyards sprawled around the city. The best time to see the vineyards in their entire splendor is between the months of April to August. This is because by October, most of them are closed for harvesting. The monuments and buildings in Bordeaux are also a sight to behold. Dubbed as, “Little Paris,” most of the old buildings and terraces were restored to their original state. Modern buildings are found in the west and south of the city. The best way to travel around Bordeaux is by use of bicycles or motor scooters. There are shops that offer bicycles for rent in the area, as well as rollerblades and scooters.

Here are some of the sights to see in Bordeaux:

The Pont-de-Pierre or ‘Stone Bridge’ was a bridge commissioned by the infamous Napoleon Bonaporte. It has seventeen arches, one for each letter of his name, and was completed in 1822. White medallions can be seen lining the sides of the bridge in honor of the emperor.

Le Grand Theatre in Bordeaux is a favorite amongst tourists. It was designed by Victor Louis who also designed the Palais Royal and Theatre Francais in Paris. It has a neo-classical façade with twelve Corinthian style columns. It supports an entablature where statues of nine muses and three goddesses stand. It remains to be the oldest wooden-frame opera house in Europe.

The Rue Sainte-Catherine is considered as a shopper’s paradise. It is a pedestrian street that is 1.2 km long and is often billed as the longest pedestrian street in all of Europe. It is the main shopping street in Bordeaux.

The Place de la Bourse is an elegant, majestic complex of buildings built at the end of the 18th century. The square is flanked by the Bourse, which is the stock exchange, and Musee de Douanes, which is the customs museum. At the very centre of the square is a spectacular fountain called the Fountain of Three Graces. The Place de la Bourse is a magnificent sight to behold at night when the square is lit up by hundreds of lights.

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