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Bordeaux and its surroundings

Automatic translation

Bordeaux, listed as a World Heritage Site

Map of Bordeaux Gironde 

“Bordeaux is unquestionably the most beautiful city in France”, as Stendhal writes in Voyages dans le midi, Bordeaux is a magnet and has become a tourist destination in its own right over time. Its tourist attendance has moreover doubled in 5 years.

Bordeaux was classified, like the port of the Moon, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Labeled City of Art and History , it has no fewer than 347 listed buildings, architectural gems from the 18th century.

The Gare Saint-Jean (former Gare du Midi), built in 1855 and its metal canopy covering the tracks, have been listed as historical monuments since 1984.

Bordeaux has also known how to open up to the river and since 2006 its quays offer one of the most beautiful walks. The revival of the tram, with its first lines inaugurated in 2005, has also largely contributed to restoring the city to its former glory. The buildings and their facades have regained their superbness, it is pleasant to stroll in town, to go shopping in the Cours de l'Intendance or in the very commercial rue Sainte Catherine, 1.2 km long, to stroll, on foot or at Velib, in the Chartrons, Saint-Eloi and Saint-Michel districts, to sit on a café terrace or go to a show at the Grand Théâtre.

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The water mirror of the Place de la Bourse, the narrow streets of the protected area, the Pey Berland tower, the Cailhau gate, the big bell, the royal square, the alleys of Tourny... are all emblematic places to discover, while like its many museums.

The youngest being the Cité du vin, north of the historic center, the result of 7 years of work, which opened its doors in June 2016 and reminds us that Bordeaux is also the world capital of wine. Bordeaux is an endearing city, with a certain charm, attractive and dynamic.

On the 1st Sunday of each month, Bordeaux city center is closed to traffic. This is the perfect time to discover or rediscover this city so dear to the hearts of Aquitaine.

According to my wishes Visit the must- see places in the historic heart of Bordeaux, on foot or by tram, following a precise route tested by our blogger. Read our article on his trip to Bordeaux (fr).

A few must-see places

The alleys of Tourny

These wide alleys planted with lime trees with a row of 18th century facades were laid out by Louis Urbain Aubert, Marquis de Tourny in 1745. These eponymous alleys host many events and are a pleasant place to stroll.

Place des Quinconces

Largest square in Europe with its 12 hectares, located in the city center, it was developed following the dismantling, under the Restoration, of the Château Trompette.

The esplanade owes its name to the trees planted in staggered rows.

It has rostral columns (decorated with ship spurs) to the glory of navigation and trade and an imposing monument to the Girondins and the Republic with a fountain surmounted by a column.

The busts of the philosophers Montaigne (mayor of the city) and Montesquieu (magistrate in the parliament of Bordeaux) are erected on the square where many events take place all year round.

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The Stewardship Course

Several mansions were built there in the 18th century. Today, luxury boutiques have taken possession of the premises. Cours de l'Intendance connects Place de la Comédie to Place Gambetta. At number 19, the passage Sarget dates from 1878, at number 57 the painter Goya died.

Place de la Bourse

We are tempted, and rightly so, to consider it the most beautiful square in Bordeaux due to the architecture of its buildings. Built in the middle of the 18th century, by the architect Gabriel and dedicated to Louis XV where his statue was dismantled during the Revolution and replaced in the 19th century by the three graces.

It housed the customs and the maritime stock exchange. Bordeaux traded with Africa, it exchanged beads for slaves, delivered to the West Indies for coffee, cotton, cocoa, re-exported to northern countries.

The water mirror, in granite covered with a thin film of water, created in 2006 is a true work of art that we owe to the architect Michel Courajoud and the fountain engineer Jean-Max LLorca. On sunny days, it makes children happy.

Parliament Square

Very lively, it was built in homage to the Parliament of Bordeaux and has a Second Empire fountain. Taking Rue du Parlement Saint-Pierre, you come to Place Saint Pierre and its eponymous district, open to the Garonne and steeped in history. The square, filled in in the 12th century, hosted the Gallo-Roman port.

Palace Square

It owes its name to the 11th century fortress, of which only one defensive tower remains today, transformed into a triumphal arch in 1496, to commemorate the victory of Charles VIII at Fornoue in Italy: the Cailhau gate.

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Place Pey Berland

Entirely redone in 2004, it houses the Pey Berland tower, built in the 15th century, named after the archbishop, and the Saint André cathedral.

The exquisitely sculpted Pey Berland Tower is actually the bell tower of the cathedral, which was built separately. At the top of the tower, 50 m away, there is a magnificent view of Bordeaux and its monuments.

The cathedral was built on the ruins of an 11th century Romanesque building. It is in the Romanesque part that the marriage was celebrated in 1137 of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, future king of France.

The Gothic choir and the nave date from the 14th and 15th centuries. The cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. Opposite the religious building is the Palais Rohan, built in 1771 and now the town hall.

According to my wishes The Pey-Berland tower can be visited. Visits are organized every day, the schedules vary according to the periods. The price of the ticket for adults is 6€, it's free for children under 18. Read our article (fr).

Place Saint-Michel

Rebuilt in 2015, it is a picturesque and cosmopolitan place, in the heart of the popular district of Bordeaux. The square is home to the flamboyant Gothic style Saint-Michel basilica and its separate bell tower which dominates the city, the river and the architectural details of the basilica at a height of 47 m. listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The square is home to daily markets.

The Grand Theater

Built at the end of the 18th century, according to the plans of the architect Victor Louis, at the request of the Duke of Richelieu, it was erected on the Place de la Comédie.

Its facade consists of 12 Corinthian columns overhung by statues of muses and goddesses. Listed as a historical monument, the grand theater was restored in 1990.

Inside, the wide vestibule is adorned with 16 Doric columns supporting a flat coffered vault and rose windows. 5 arcades give access to the grand staircase which, a little less than a century later, will inspire Charles Garnier for that of the Paris Opera. It hosts from September to July, concerts and operas.

The stone bridge  

Built on the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte between 1810-1822, it was the first bridge over the Garonne, linking the right bank, Bastide district, to the city.

The Big Bell

It is the only remnant of the second city wall built in the 12th century, it has undergone many transformations. Its bells had a defensive role, they also announced the start of the harvest. It is the symbol of the city which appears on the coat of arms of the city.

The Saint-Seurin basilica

Excavations have brought to light a vast Gallo-Roman Christian necropolis. It is one of the oldest churches in Bordeaux, its porch and its crypt date back to the 11th century. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the way to Santiago de Compostela.

The Gallien Palace

These are the remains of the amphitheater of ancient Burdigala. Today, only a few bays and arcades remain of this 2nd century monument.

The public Garden

It was designed by the architect Gabriel on the order of the intendant Tourny in the 18th century. English-style park with groves, lakes, games for children… In 1858 a botanical garden was established in its heart, with 3,000 plant species.

It has a castelet that will delight the little ones. It is labeled Remarkable Garden. Since 2007, in the Bastide district, a botanical garden completes the historic establishment.

Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge

Named after the former mayor, this bridge is a curiosity. it is impressive when its central span rises to let cruise ships pass which will moor at the port. Since 2013, it has linked the Bacalan (Bordeaux maritime) and Bastide districts. Pedestrians, cyclists, take it for walks allowing them to admire Bordeaux left bank and right bank.

In resonance with its heritage Bordeaux has a very active cultural life with no less than 11 museums dedicated to fine arts, contemporary art, decorative arts and design, customs…

The city of wine

It is not strictly speaking a museum, it is an emblematic place of excellence and a real gateway to the Bordeaux vineyards which opened its doors in June 2016, on the site of the old forges of the great maritime port. of Bordeaux, in the Bacalan district, basins in Flot.

It is also on the left bank that we discover the submarine base, built during the Second World War which hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events.

The Aquitaine Museum

Located in Cours Pasteur, historical and ethnographic, retraces the history of Bordeaux and its region, from prehistory to the present day. Rooms recall the Atlantic trade and slavery.

The contemporary art museum

It offers year-round temporary exhibitions and meetings around the history of art, music or contemporary creation. It is located in the Chartrons district. Formerly a mecca for the wine trade, its old warehouses have been rehabilitated. Today it is a very trendy district.

It is also in a rehabilitated shed in this district, on the banks of the Garonne that Cap Sciences, a multidisciplinary place dedicated to science, has taken up residence.

Finally, in the very heart of Bordeaux, you should not miss the 17th century Labottière mansion, owned by Bernard Magrez, a key figure in the world of wine, which houses a 5-star hotel, a gourmet restaurant "La grande maison" open late 2014 and with two Michelin stars (recently taken over by Pierre Gagnaire), and a cultural institute for contemporary art exhibitions and conferences, throughout the year.

The Bordeaux capital has two other starred restaurants: Gordon Ramsay has taken the reins of the Pressoir d'Argent (1 Michelin star), and the Pavillon des boulevards (1 Michelin star) with the creative cuisine of Denis Franc.

An agglomeration, green lung of the city

Bordeaux Métropole brings together 28 municipalities spread over both banks of the Garonne. It currently has 749,595 inhabitants around its central city, Bordeaux (243,626 inhabitants). Half urban, half nature, to discover thanks to its 140 km of marked routes. You can even spend a night in peri-urban shelters

Pessac is both wine-growing châteaux: Château Haut-Brion, Château les Carmes Haut-Brion, Château Haut-Brana, Château Pape-Clément… which have made the region famous and are gradually opening up to visitors. , a university campus, an 11th century town centre, a district, the Cité Frugès, which we owe in the 1920s to the famous architect Le Corbusier, but also a zoo.

Mérignac was a Gallo-Roman city. It is today the most populated municipality in the Bordeaux conurbation with 68,000 inhabitants and an international airport. Several head offices of international companies are located on its territory. With 8 eco-certified parks, 3 vineyards and a green corridor of 844 hectares, Mérignac is a green city. The parks of the town hall (9 hectares) and that of Bourran, classified as a historical monument, are to be discovered.

Le Bouscat is located northwest of Bordeaux. A small hamlet for a long time which only had a church in 1820. The Bordeaux racecourse is located in Le Bousact. The Chêneraie park, a historical monument, and the Hermitage park are places to discover, as is the villa Jeanne, a house built in 1898 by the architect Bertrand-Alfred Duprat, listed as a historical monument in 2001.

Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, hosted Roman camps. In the 17th century, a gunpowder factory was installed which is still in operation today. The town has many streams where powder mills were once located.

With its 8,500 hectares, it is the largest locality in the Bordeaux metropolis. To visit: the 11th century church built on a Merovingian necropolis, its confessional is classified as a historical monument.

Cenon , offers 25 hectares of greenery and a panorama of the Garonne with the Palmer park, an essential place for all nature lovers but also for music with the performance hall Le Rocher de Palmer.

Lormont, located on the right bank of the Garonne, the town has preserved traces of a very ancient past. Initially a defensive site then a fishing port in the 12th century. In the 18th century Lormont was the most important of the suburbs of Bordeaux, its picturesque landscapes and the liveliness of its guinguettes were very popular. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became a place of residence and vacation for Bordeaux residents. The old town, with its superbly restored washhouses, its churches, is classified as an Urban and Landscape Architectural Heritage Protection Zone, guided tours are organized by the Tourist Office. The Parc de l'Ermitage, an area of biodiversity, with its 28 hectares is the green lung of the City. The Friends of Old Lormont Museum has a rich collection of objects relating to its history.

Bouliac, is a commune at the gateway to Entre-deux-mers. By its preserved environment, it is the very example of the city in the countryside. Bouliac has been occupied since the Gallo-Roman period. Its Saint-Siméon le Stylite church is a pure jewel of Romanesque art.

Bègles , located on the left bank of the Garonne, was once a fishing port, known for its cod drying rooms. Bègles had easy access to unload cod caught in Newfoundland or Iceland.

It was the first industrial suburb of Bordeaux, the most populated until before the Second World War. It is also a wine-growing commune, producing the Graves vineyard.

Bègles is proud of its art-deco swimming pool built in 1932, listed as a historic monument, and its CA Bordeaux-Bègles rugby club was French champion in 1991.

The city has a network of 30 km of cycle paths and three flowers with the village and flowered villages label.

From mid-June until the end of August, Bègles offers Bègles Plage activities around its lake: 1,000 m2 of supervised swimming, with a depth of only 1.80 m, sports and nature activities in town. Its museum of free creation, museum of raw art, created in 1989, has a collection of 14,000 contemporary, heterogeneous works, born of the spontaneous desire of artists, famous or unknown, to express themselves quite simply.

Blanquefort , at the gates of the Médoc, has many green spaces, including 51 hectares of parkland and has 4 flowers with the label of towns and villages in bloom. It is also with 220 companies, the zone of economic activities, the largest in the agglomeration.