Every year, the European Best Destination Association, based in Brussels, Belgium, selects—through online voting—a city that will named Best European Destination. This year the award went to Bordeaux, a French city known internationally for its emblematic wine production. This metropolis certainly deserves a visit for its undeniable tourist attractions.
Bordeaux, the capital of the Aquitaine region, is France’s fifth largest city, following Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse. Crossed by the Garonne River, its turbulent past includes Roman, Gallic and Carolingian conquests. Finally, the city was annexed to the kingdom of France. Review our curated selection of luxury hotels and international destinations.
But Bordeaux’s real fame begins in its golden age—the 18th century. In fact, most of the buildings in its historic center—declared World Heritage Site by Unesco— date from that period. During one of his visits to this noble city, the great French writer Victor Hugo said: “Take Versailles, add Antwerp and you will have Bordeaux.”
A holiday in Bordeaux should start at the legendary Place de la Bourse, off the banks of the Garonne and one of the city’s main attractions. Considered the largest square in Europe, it boasts—since 2006—the largest water mirror of the world. The spectacular installation alternates extraordinary visual effects using water and fog and has become one of the most photographed spots in town. Nearby, the Cathedral of Saint-André—built in the late 11th century in Romanesque style—dazzles visitors with its impressive tower visible from anywhere in the city.
Place des Quinconces is an ideal place to watch the local population and soak up the pace of the town enjoying concerts and other cultural events. The Rue Sainte Catherine, meanwhile, is a mandatory visit for fashionable shoppers. The elegant commercial boulevard is lined with luxurious boutiques, cafes, and restaurants and ends in the Place de la Comedie, home to the beautiful National Opera since 1780. The Palais Gallien amphitheater, a vestige of Bordeaux’s Roman past, is another point of historical relevance.
Severe Francophiles will enjoy France’s classic elegance and poise at the Museum of Decorative Arts, located inside a manor house built in 1779 for a French nobleman. The estate has been completely transformed to reflect a vivid account of the lifestyle of the aristocracy in the 18th century, a golden age that ended abruptly with the triumph of the French Revolution.
A good way to end a tour of the city is by visiting one of the most famous and prestigious wineries in the world: Château Mouton Rothschild, located in a beautiful wine estate of Pauillac, Médoc, about 50 kilometers from Bordeaux. Their wines, considered among the best in the world, were a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, who visited the legendary winery during his stay in France and fell in love with Château Mouton Rothschild’s excellent vintages. ■