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La Cité du Vin: A Museum for Wine in Bordeaux

J.M. Towers


This architectural gem is the wine lover’s Mecca, where oenophiles can immerse themselves in all things wine, from interactive exhibits to fine dining, wine tastings and more.


There couldn’t be a better place than Bordeaux, France, for a unique building that pays homage to the world’s wines. La Cité du Vin—the City of Wine—is a multidisciplinary museum that carries out a walk—complex and educational—through some of the main wine-making countries, small producers included.
La Cité du Vin

Architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, from Paris agency XTU, have created a building of great beauty, with a structure full of symbolic references—the whirlpool of the wine in a glass, the ancient twisting of the vine in the ground, and the flow of the Garonne, the river that encircles Bordeaux—a design that captures the essence and spirit of wine. The building’s horizontal and vertical lines united in a continuous movement that grows from the ground along a ramp of the Riverwalk. The museum’s design is more movement than shape, and it’s liberated and revealed as the structure rises to the sky, creating a beautiful momentum in the middle of the landscape that connects the bridge and the river.

Within its 140,000-square-foot interior divided into 10 levels, coexist the laminated wood panels, a reminiscence of an old merchant ship.

Its external structure consists of printed glass panels—flat and curved—with a great variety of colors and iridescent sections of lacquered aluminum. The constantly changing tones and angles of these panels produce an appearance that shifts with the reflection of clouds, sunlight and shadows. Within its 140,000-square-foot interior divided into 10 levels, coexist the laminated wood panels, a reminiscence of an old merchant ship. The inner spaces have their own identities—from the Thomas Jefferson auditorium, with its ceiling of hanging wooden pipes; the Belvedere, with its mirror ceiling; to the multi-sensorial immersive hall with its walls of curved glass, printed with wine-inspired great designs.
La Cité du Vin

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Opened on June 1, 2016, La Cité Du Vin is, in brief, a cultural facility dedicated to the living universal heritage of wine. It offers a unique tour across the world, through the ages of wine and the many cultures and civilizations that have harvested its essence through the centuries. With 9,842 square feet, 19 theme modules, a tour in eight languages, and more than 10 hours of content along with more than 120 audiovisual productions, it calls for an unforgettable opportunity to get to learn about wine culture.

Furthermore, with almost 2,300 square feet, the column hall holds two annual temporary exhibitions, featuring pieces from the world’s greatest museums. The tour concludes in the 250-seat auditorium with a stop in the reading room where more than 1,500 wine-related books are available in several languages.

La Cité Du Vin offers three tasting areas as well, including the multi-sensorial immersive hall, and a boutique where visitors may choose from a great variety of items, books, gifts, and souvenirs. The museum’s elegant Le 7 restaurant, on the other hand, is the perfect spot to taste the best French cuisine, along with the best wines, in a hall with a view of Bordeaux, the world capital city of wine.  ■

PHOTOS: © Anaka / La Cité du Vin / XTU architects.


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