Bordeaux is the capital of the most famous wine region in the world. It provides all the culture and shopping of a large and sophisticated city associated with the centuries old wine trade.
Bordeaux is one of the most important cities in south-western France, the good climate and rich history make the city an interesting place to explore.
The city is located in the South West France, on the Atlantic coast. The city is built on a bend of the river Garonne and it is one of the worlds most important wine producing areas and is in fact considered the world's wine capital.
Bordeaux is full of elegant 18th-century buildings constructed from limestone and adorned by graceful cast-iron balconies, many of which have been restored to their original, honey-coloured splendour. Wide avenues, neoclassical architecture and well-tended parks all give the city a certain grandeur.
The city centre is easily explored on foot and its attractions include good shops and restaurants that serve food that live up to the region's world-beating wines. The city has excellent museums, lively nightlife and beaches close by.
Bordeaux is made up of 'arrondissements' (districts) like Paris, but people tend to talk about the city in terms of quarters (quartiers). Each quarter has a name and encompasses a relatively precise area, often flanked by two main roads or streets.
The Saint Pierre quarter. Right in the heart of Bordeaux, the St. Pierre quarter is the historic centre of the town. It is made up of beautiful little streets, some of which are still paved. Saint Pierre is Bordeaux's culinary capital, with a large number of restaurants to suit every taste and pocket, something for gourmets and gourmands. The Place du Parlement is home to some wonderful architecture and a decorative fountain. Also in the area is the Eglise Saint Pierre, built in the 15th and 16th centuries on the site of the former Gallo-roman port.
The Chartrons quarter. This very attractive quarter, set on the banks of the Garonne, used to be very busy and wealthy thanks to the wine trade. Here, merchants and businessmen rubbed shoulders with sailors and labourers. Its name comes from the Chartreux convent, built in the 17th century, and it used to be the centre both of the town and of Anglo-Saxon and protestant life. With the decline of river-trade, the quarter emptied, becoming a calm residential area with antique shops. A section of the quarter is today known as the "village des antiquaries" or antique-shop village. In this area visitors can take in the Musee des Chartrons, and nearer the banks of the Garonne the Croiseur Colbert. Not far from here is the magnificent centre of Contemporary art (CAPC).
The Saint Eloi quarter. This focal point of this quarter is, the Grosse Cloche, just next to the Eglise Saint Eloi. Bordeaux's main shopping street (2kms long!) the rue Sainte Catherine is nearby. The Grosse Cloche links the Saint Michel, Victoire and Saint Pierre quarters—it is a sort of crossroads for the oldest, pre-medieval quarters and the areas that were modernised from the 17th century onwards.
The Saint Michel quarter. Separated from the St. Pierre quarter by the cours Victor Hugo, the St. Michel quarter is by far the liveliest and most colourful area in town. Spaniards, Portuguese, North Africans and French live happily side-by-side, and visitors can enjoy food and drink from a variety of cultures, often at very reasonable prices. Built around the Saint Michel basilica, a Gothic church erected at the end of the 15th century, and the Flèche Saint Michel, at 114 metres the highest monument in Bordeaux, this is a popular quarter. Every Monday morning there is a clothes market on the square and Saturday mornings see two other large markets: the Capucins, on rue Elie Gintrac and the one around the flèche Saint Michel. Sunday morning is reserved for bric-a brac and antiques.
The Sainte Croix quarter. Formerly a suburb, this quarter only became part of the city proper in the XIVth century. The Romanesque church of Sainte Croix, built between the end of the XIth and XII centuries, stands on the place Renaudel. This institution remained Benedictine until the Revolution and is now a parish church. Today the heart of the quarter borders the older, pre-13th century areas and the zones that were modernised during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The station quarter. On arrival in Bordeaux's train station, visitors can immediately admire the building itself—the Gare—an enormous hall built in the arc of a circle. This quarter equals 24-hour service par excellence as the place to buy food, drink and cigarettes, day or night. It is a popular area, with numerous bars, restaurants and hotels.
The Victoire quarter. Centre of student night-life, the Place de la Victoire is one of Bordeaux's larger squares. Just like a compass, this focal point looks to the North, South, East and West and as such is a good place from which to orient yourself. The rue Sainte Catherine starts with the passage under the Porte d'Aquitaine.
The Grands Hommes quarter. This chic, elegant quarter is home to the old Dominican Notre Dame church, built in 1684. Not far from here are the former place Dauphine (1747), the Place Gambetta, the Allees de Tourny, a walkway which was done up in 1745 by Tourny, and the cours de l'Intendance, a triumphal way used by many Kings and heads of State. The Grand Theâtre stands on the place de la Comedie.