Bordeaux - a stunning showcase of the best of 18th century architecture in the city known as 'Little Paris'

Mention Bordeaux and most people will think of wine rather than the port city of over one million inhabitants that lies on the Garonne River in the southwest of France. Like many French cities, Bordeaux's story begins before the Roman invasion of Gaul (modern-day France). The city grew thanks to its strategic location near where the Garonne River meets the Atlantic. Its climate proved ideal for wine-growing, due to its mild Winters and warm Summers.

Flights to the city take around 15 hours from Johannesburg or Cape Town , depending on connection waiting time. Airplane tickets may be more expensive during the French school holidays, especially during the last three weeks of July and the first three weeks of August, which is the peak travel period in France, although it's always worth looking out for any promotional offers . Your journey to the city begins when you touch down in Bordeaux's Mérignac Airport , which is only 10km west of the city. A short train ride will take you into the city centre.

Bordeaux's gorgeous urban architecture has made it a favourite with film-makers. A number of impressive city squares, especially the Place de la Bourse and the Esplanade des Quinconces (one of the largest such squares in Europe), give a real flavour of the wealth and prestige of the city in days gone by. The Grand Théâtre, the prosperous town-houses in the area north of Gambetta Square, the Eglise Sainte-Croix, the Saint-André Cathedral and the rue Sainte Cathérine, France's longest pedestrian street, are some of the other points of architectural interest you can take in.

Wine and water, the life blood of Bordeaux and a major ingredient of any holiday to the region!

The multi-billion euro wine industry plays a major part in Bordeaux's economy. The most obvious tourist draws are the actual wine estates themselves, sited in glorious French countryside and featuring impressive châteaux built on the proceeds of sales of this prestigious drink. Another great place to learn more about this quintessential French product is the Musée du Vin et du Négoce, which charts the history of the wine trade and includes a wine-tasting session. You can arrange tours to individual estates or else go on a wine tour, which will typically visit a number of different vineyards. Some of the most famous estates include:
  • Château Lafite Rothschild
  • Château Latour
  • Château Margaux
  • Château Mouton Rothschild
  • Château Cheval Blanc
One reason why the wine industry flourished in this part of France is the easy access to the river and sea. Many of Bordeaux's best sights are connected with the River Garonne in some way. You might want to take a ferry across the river to Les Quais, the promenade that runs alongside the river for 4.5km. Another notable water feature is the Miroir d'Eau, the world's largest reflecting pool located in front of the Place de la Bourse. A recent addition to the city's waterfront scene is the Jacques-Chaban-Delmas lift bridge. This has gained fame with its status as Europe's longest-span vertical-lift bridge. The central span can be lifted up to 53 metres to let large ships pass underneath.
Some of France's most iconic countryside is just a short drive away. More information on car rental in the area is available through the Air France website.

Bring out the best in Bordeaux by consulting the relevant websites before you travel

Make your stay in Bordeaux easier with the help of the following travel and tourism internet sites: