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Published on February 9th, 2017
Bordeaux is the 5th largest city of France and since the map of the hexagon was revisited in 2016, it is now the capital of the newly formed (super) region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Yet, despite all the history and behind the glitters, it has a sense of calm and quiet, providing the perfect combination of city living surrounded by beautiful countryside full of historic villages and culture.
When thinking of Bordeaux, one tends to think about wine and Saint Emilion in particular, and it’s no wonder, as it is one of the most famous wine regions in the world. The area boasts around 120,000 hectares of vines including 10,000 wine-producing châteaux, producing approximately 960 million bottles of wine annually.
But wine is just part of the story of Bordeaux; the truth is, behind the assemblage of the various grapes to produce a great ‘Claret’ as the Brits call it, there is an incredibly vibrant city that is the ideal location for your new home in France.
You will easily be won over by the Bordeaux properties on offer, as architecture plays a dominant role in Bordeaux. It has long been known as ‘la belle endormie’ or the ‘sleeping beauty’, and a huge restoration programme commenced in the mid 1990s to restore many of the city’s magnificent 18th century limestone buildings. You can’t deny the commanding presence and beauty of the horseshoe-shaped plaza, Place de la Bourse, which was built as a symbol of prosperity for Louis XV in 1755 by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, famed for designing Versailles’s Petit Trianon.
For something a little older, the ruined amphitheatre, Palais Gallien, dates back to the Roman Empire. The Cathédrale Saint-André was consecrated in 1096 by Pope Urban II; it was used to store animal feed during the French Revolution, and restored in the 19th century. No matter where you turn, there is a treat for the eyes, so it will come as no surprise that the city was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
We can’t talk architecture without mentioning the Cité du Vin, which opened last year. This ultra-modern, €80 million attraction has been described by some as the world’s first wine theme park. Set on the banks of the picturesque Garonne river, it has a distinctive design that looks like a whirlpool. With a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions, workshops, events, restaurants, and wine tours, it may take you more than one visit to truly experience what it has to offer.
Where to begin? Art, history, theatre, music – you are spoiled for choice. One of France’s oldest museums is the Museum of Natural History, which created one of the first public collections after the French Revolution. It is currently undergoing major renovation and expansion, and is due to reopen in 2018. The Grand-Théâtre is home to the Bordeaux National Opera and hosts a programme of theatre, opera and concerts, it is decorated in the colours of French royalty: scrumptious blues, whites, and golds.
For something a bit different, take a trip to I.BOAT, which is a 3 level ferry with a cocktail bar, restaurant, concert hall, night club and heated terrace, a great place for dinner and a dance whilst sampling a little tapas. At live music venue Le Krakatoa you can see world class artists from pop to metal, with an electric programme of concerts throughout the year.
From shopping to surfing, whatever your pleasure Bordeaux will meet your wants and needs. Rue Saint Catherine) is the longest shopping strip in Europe at 1.2 kilometres in length, bursting with high end shops, brasseries, cafes, and bars. We also recommend that you take a tram tour of old Bordeaux town, which travels along the river bank. But it’s not only your social life that will bring a smile, Bordeaux was also voted the ‘best place to work’ in France in 2014.
With many international schools, a glorious climate, being only 2 hours from San Sebastián in the Basque country, numerous cheap flights to its international airport , and the soon to be opened TGV fast train service linking it to Paris in just over 2 hours (from summer 2017), Bordeaux may be known for its wine, but behind its rich façade is a city that has been growing in popularity in recent years and ‘definitivement’ wants to welcome you home.
At My-French-House we can show you the Bordeaux that you long to discover, but being such a large and diverse city, we suggest that you tell us about your project and requirements and we’ll get back to you once we’ve spoken to the team in Bordeaux. Until then why not re-discover Rick Steins’s BBC cookery adventure or find out why Bordeaux is listed as the #1 city to discover on Lonely Planet’s 2017 travel list.
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