Located in south-western France, Bordeaux is famous for its namesake wine. Half the city has been declared a World Heritage Site, while most visitors also see it as a gateway to the surrounding wineries and chateaus. Bordeaux welcomed the new millennium with major face-lift, which included pedestrianizing several central streets and extensive renovation of its lovely neo-classical buildings. A college city, it features a vast variety of lively cafes, restaurants and bars.
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Bordeaux features an efficient public transport network, which consists of three tram lines and several bus routes. Single tickets are valid for only one journey with no transferring lines. The tram operates from 5am to 1am. Night buses, which serve the popular entertainment districts, are available during the weekends. Taxis are relatively easy to find on the street.
Bordeaux’s Museums and Galleries
Although a medium-sized city, Bordeaux has its fair share in interesting museums and galleries. Centrally located, Musée d’Aquitaine houses an outstanding collection of artefacts and relics from the area’s ancient history, as well as a few art crafts from former French colonies in Africa and Oceania.
Occupying two lovely 18th-century buildings in Mairie Gardens, one by each side of Bordeaux’s Town Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts houses artworks from the 16th to the 20th centuries. From Delacroix to Picasso, a fascinating painting collection is complemented by beautiful sculpture and drawing displays. Guided tours of the museum are organised on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
For modern and contemporary art, head to CAPC (museum of contemporary art). Housed in a former 18th-century warehouse, CAPC features a permanent collection of more than 1,000 art pieces, many of which have been obtained by temporary exhibitions the museum hosted the previous years.
The city’s small, but historic, Museum of Natural History is closed for restoration and will open its gates again in 2015.
Other attractions in Bordeaux
Rooting back to 6th century, Basilica Saint-Seurin is an imposing landmark of the city. Built in a fusion of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, it features an adjoined 15th-century chapel and an ancient crypt. The crypt houses some fascinating sarcophagi from twelve centuries ago, decorated in superb Merovingian design.
Visitors flock St Andre Cathedral, not so much for the medieval church itself, but to take a look at its attached steeple. To avoid any negative effects from the vibrations of the jingling bell, a separate Gothic tower (Tour Pay-Berland) was built to house it. Today tourists climb up Tour Pay-Berland to enjoy some panoramic views of the area.
Initially established and developed by the Celtics, the city of Bordeaux really thrived during Roman Era. Unfortunately not much is left from its glorious ancient past, except from some fascinating findings exhibited in Musée d’Aquitaine. However, the remains of a Roman amphitheatre still stand near the Public Garden. Known as Palais Gallien, the site houses some of the 3rd-century amphitheatre’s sidewalls. Visitors are welcome to walk around the ruins.
It would be a real shame to visit Bordeaux and not take a day tour to the nearby chateaus for some delicious wine-tasting. Located in Martillac, Chateau Smith Haut Laffite is one of the grandest and most historic chateaus in the area. Standing in a huge vineyard, it occupies a 16th-century building and features a 1,000-barrel cellar. The chateau organises guided tours of its facilities, which include wine-tasting.
Close to Chateau Smith Haut Laffite, you will find the outstanding Spa de Vinothérapie Caudalie, which offers original treatments based on different types of wine. Relax with a red-wine bath, or pamper yourself with a wine-scrub, and leave totally relaxed and refreshed!