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Bordeaux, the City by the Garonne

Forest bathing in Bordeaux
Bordeaux, dubbed the Pearl of Aquitaine, seems to have everything. It has a historic center which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It has bold, new architectural spaces juxtaposed with soaring 15th century bell towers and Gothic cathedrals. It is one of the great wine producing regions in France that has quenched man’s thirst since the Roman era. It has expansive squares and gardens with flourishing trees that cool down the summer heat. There’s much to see, taste, smell and learn in this old and “new” city in southwestern France.

Church of St. Croix (Holy Cross)
There was a church on this spot since the 11th century and it was modified over time. The current asymmetrical façade of Saint Croix is from the 18th century renovation when a new tower was added. Identical columns frame the second to fourth floors of the towers but the arched windows are of different styles and count. An interesting sculpture of St. George slaying the dragon plays above the red side door. St. Croix certainly has enough surprises to intrigue discerning eyes.

Basilica of Saint Michel
St. Michael’s Basilica is a Flamboyant Gothic church with a separate 15th century tower that soars 374 feet (114 meters) above Bordeaux.

Porte Cailhou
Cailhau Gate is a monument to Charles VIII for his subjugation of Italian states in 1494 during the Italian War. This medieval gate is now a museum displaying materials used during the period of its construction.

Place de la Bourse
The Place de la Bourse is part of the historic center of Bordeaux which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It took twenty years to complete the square designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel. In the center is the fountain of the Three Graces.

Sanna, Jaume Plensa
Sanna is a privately owned sculpture that is on temporary loan to the city. It sits on Place de la Comédie across from the Grand Theatre. 

Grand Théâtre
The neoclassical façade of the Grand Théâtre with its 12 Corinthian columns and 12 statues of Greek goddesses and muses lend elegance to Place de la Comédie.

Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas 
The Jacques Chaban Delmas Bridge straddles the Garonne River. The bridge claims to be the highest vertical lift bridge in Europe at 252 feet high (77 meters). 

La Cité du Vin
I have a separate article about this amazing museum of wine. Follow this link:   

Les Halles de Bacalan
Just across the street from Cité du Vin is the Bacalan Food Hall where you can stock up on cheese, meat, bread, pastries, fish, fresh produce and wine, of course. All that shopping will make you hungry and there are several restaurants to save you from a growling stomach. Les Halles is a welcome addition to this neighborhood.

What’s for dinner?
Wandering around Bordeaux’s warren of cobblestone streets, I stumbled upon this restaurant with seafood offerings.

My best discovery in Bordeaux wasn’t any of the famous grand cru wines nor the beautiful cathedrals nor the Miroir d’eau but this delicious custard pastry flavored with rum and vanilla and baked in fluted molds. I savored my first canelé at Baillardran which has branches all over the city. Here’s how you can make your own canelé.

Bar at La Cité du Vin
What to do with those wine bottles?

How to get around:
The tram routes of Bordeaux cover the historic center all the way to La Cité du Vin and the suburbs. Tickets are available at ticket machines conveniently located at tram stops. Here’s a link to tram and bus information for Bordeaux.


Images by TravelswithCharie

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