Bordeaux is one of the most famous cities in all of France. Located on the west Atlantic coast this city is marvelous. With only a quarter of a million people in the city and around 1.2 million in the metropolitan area this city is not overwhelming. With a charming old town and a long history no one ever complains about Bordeaux. The main attraction in the city is its famous wine. The area has been making wine since the 8th century that is too good for a king!
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When visiting Bordeaux don't forget to see and experience the museums, galleries, Bars, Lounges, Restaurant and vibrant cafe society of this area!
Sights and Activities
The main industry and activity in Bordeaux is wine. With over 117,000 hectares of vineyards, 57 appellations, 9,000 wine-producing châteaux, 13,000 grape growers and 400 traders make for annual sales of over 14.5 billion euros and plenty to drink. This all results in over 700 million bottles a year, which range from some very cheap wine to some of the most expensive in the world. The five first growth châteaux are:
- Château Lafite Rothschild is a producer of some of the most expensive wines in the world.
- Château Margaux had one of their bottles of Château Margaux 1787 insured for $225,000.
- Château Latour has some very old vines that have been around since the 14th century.
- Château Haut-Brion is the only non-Medoc estate to be included in the 1855 classification.
- Château Mouton Rothschild is the latest to join the first growth club in 1973.
Bordeaux is home to one of the largest 18th century architectural urban areas in all of Europe. Because of its amazing buildings and level of preservation it has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Grand Théâtre was built in 1780 this theatre is truly beautiful.
- Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux(Bordeaux Cathedral) was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096. This church has been of importance in Bordeaux for a long time.
- Église Sainte-Croix(Church of the Holy Cross) is an amazing Romanesque abbey.
- Basilica of Saint-Seurin is the oldest church in Bordeaux built in the 6th century.
- Musée des Beaux Arts
- Musée d'Aquitaine
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs
- Musée D'Histoire Naturelle
- CAPC - Museum of Contemporary Art
- Musée National des Doines
- Musée Goupil
- Cap Sciences is a great science musuem.
- Centre Jean Moulin.
Other Sights and Activities
- The Rue Sainte-Catherine is a wonderful pedestrian only shopping street that is 1.2-kilometre-long filled with great shops, restaurants and cafes. This is the longest shopping street in Europe and the shops become more expensive the further on walks towards Place de La Comedie.
- Cours de l'Intendance is where the most high-end and exclusive boutiques and shops are located.
From June to September is summer, with temperatures around 25 °C on average, but sometimes as high as 38 °C. Nights are pleasantly warm and can be chilly sometimes. Winters are mild, around 10 °C during the day but nights can be as cold as -15 °C sometimes. Winters have more rain than summers but precipitation is possible in all months.
|Avg Max||10 °C||11.7 °C||14.5 °C||16.5 °C||20.5 °C||23.5 °C||26.4 °C||26.6 °C||23.7 °C||18.8 °C||13.4 °C||10.7 °C|
|Avg Min||2.8 °C||3.4 °C||4.6 °C||6.6 °C||10.3 °C||13 °C||15.1 °C||15.2 °C||12.5 °C||9.5 °C||5.5 °C||3.8 °C|
|Rainfall||92 mm||82.6 mm||70 mm||80 mm||83.8 mm||63.8 mm||54.5 mm||59.5 mm||90.3 mm||94 mm||106.8 mm||106.7 mm|
Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport (BOD) is the major airport near the city. It has connections to most major European cities and some North African cities like Tunis, Casablanca, Marrakech and Algiers. There are longer flights to Réunion and Montréal.
TBC busline 1 offers regular connections to the city centre and Jet'Bus shuttle serves the Bordeaux Saint-Jean railway station. By car take the A630 and then exit 11b.
The main train station (Gare Saint Jean) is located about 4km from the center of town. Several trains per day (around one every two hours) go north (to Paris, about 3.5 hours) , Angoulème, Poitiers), south (to Toulouse, Marseille, Montpellier (about 4 to 5 hours), up to Nice, and east to Périgueux and Clermont-Ferrand.
Buses and taxis leave from in front of the station. Catch the tramway to go to the inner city centre.
You can reach Bordeaux by car from north (taking the A10 highway or N10), south (taking the A63 highway), and east. A beltway goes around the city.
If you're travelling with bikes European Bike Express run a route from north of Leeds, stopping through the UK to Dover and then on towards Bayonne via Bordeaux. Passengers normally travel from the UK to Europe.
The easiest way to get around Bordeaux is by tram or bus. They are owned by the same company, so buying a pass with a few trips on it would get you all over the city. Bordeaux is relatively small, so you're also well off by foot.
As with most European cities, a car can be a bit of a liability. There are plenty of public parking garages in central Bordeaux, however if you plan on spending a bit of time in Bordeaux, this can become quite expensive. The best thing to do is find a free car park on the periphery of the city (there are quite a few near the Basilica of St Michael) and either walk into town or catch a tram.
Bordeaux is easily navigated on foot. Self guided walking tour maps are available from tourist offices or just grab your favourite flavour of guide book. A good place to start is the famous Pont de Pierre; from here you can walk up the river, past the famous Place de la Bourse, to the Esplanade des Quinconces (one of the largest squares in France). The tourist office is very close to the Quinconces tram stop, if you are heading in the other direction.
France has a well documented love of cycling and as a result, most cities are very bike (velo in French) friendly with dedicated bike lanes. Bordeaux introduced a bike sharing scheme, the V3, in 2010 and there are over a thousand bikes at various stations around the city. Most V3 stations are near other public transport stops. The cheapest way to utilise the V3 is by subscription (weekly, monthly etc) on an RFID card, however if you are only visiting for a short time there is no need to subscribe for a particular period. It is also good to know that the first 30 minutes is usually free and thereafter an hourly rate applies. A map of the V3 stations in Bordeaux can be found here
If you don't have much time, but you would still like to do some sightseeing, you can contact Taxi Bordeaux. Bordeaux taxi drivers and the tourist office offer an overview tour of the city. Sightseeing in Bordeaux, Saint Emilion, Medoc or Arcachon can take all day. Taxi 33, Aquitaine Taxis Radio, Taxis de Merignac, Taxis Girondins and Allo Taxi are other options.
Bordeaux is famous for its local oysters. You can sample all shapes and sizes with a bottle of the local wine at La Boîte à Huitres on cours du Chapeau Rouge, near the Place de la Bourse.
For a wonderful overview of what Bordeaux wine is all about, it is hard to go past the Maison du Vin de Bordeaux which is almost opposite the tourist office on cours du 30 Juillet (Quinconces is the nearest tram stop). Along with intensive wine courses for dedicated students of the vine, the Maison offers the region’s famous drop by-the-glass and you can also buy a cheese board to nibble on while you enjoy your wine. The sommeliers also tend to speak very good English.
France is one of the best connected countries in the world, with data speed for upload/download ranked among the top 5 in the world. Most hotels and hostels would have in-house facilities to provide free internet access. Many major cities also have initiatives put in place to provide free wi-fi connection in public spaces. Alternatively there are internet cafés available in most cities/towns at a reasonable rate. Some private businesses, such as local cafés (or even the Starbuck's chain), may also provide wi-fi connectivity - keep an eye out for the signs by the shop windows/doors. Also look for the @ symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability. However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafés are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities.
See also: International Telephone Calls
To dial an international number from France, the IDD is 00, followed by the country code that you wish to dial, the area code and the phone number.
To call France from abroad, start with the international direct dialing (IDD) code from the country you're in, followed by French country code 33, the area code (drop the first zero in front of the area code), and the phone number. French telephone numbers are rarely given without the area code. The telephone number, including the area code, is made up of 10 digits. They are written in a set of 5 pairs of digits (i.e. 01 xx xx xx xx xx).
In France, the area code designations are: 01 - Paris Area ("Région Ile-de-France"), 02 - northwest, 03 - northeast, 04 - southeast, 05 - southwest, 06 - mobile phone providers. From 2010 onwards, 07 will also be assigned to mobile phone providers in order to cater for the surging demands for mobile phones.
Emergency numbers are 15 (medical aid), 17 (police station) and 18 (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number 112 (perhaps a better choice if you don't speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones.
France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are several companies (Orange, SFR, Free, Bouygues Télécom and some others MVNOs like Virgin Mobile) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free.
La Poste in France is also referred to as the PTT (short for postes, télégraphes et téléphones). The mailboxes are painted bright yellow and often there is a slot for local city mail and another slot for "outside mail". Normally there is a queue in the post office, but most of the post offices have the self service machine installed which is quite easy to operate. Nowadays many of the tabac and even some of the souvenir shops also sell postage stamps. Normally an overseas postcard costs almost as much as sending a letter. Mails sent in France also have a zip code. The first two numbers represent the administrative department (e.g. in Paris' case that would be 75).
Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 7:00pm Monday through Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Apart from the basic job of mailing letters, most of the post offices do some banking activities also and some even have photocopy machines and cyber cafes for internet access.
Bordeaux, La Belle Endormie. (Nine Prod.) / CC BY 3.0
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