Located the centre of France’s biggest wine regions, the historic city of Bordeaux is also one of the largest in France, offering stunning architecture, a wealth of culture and of course several great varieties of wines. Here are ten interesting facts about the city, located just a short distance from many of our luxury French gites in the south west of France.
One of the city’s old nicknames was ‘La Belle Endormie’ (Sleeping Beauty), as the walls of the buildings in the city centre used to be black due to the pollution – this is no longer the case though.
Bordeaux belonged to the English for three centuries. It first came under English ownership when Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry Plantagenet, who later became King Henry II of England, but control of the region was lost at the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1453.
Rivers Run Wild
The region is home to the largest estuary in Europe, the Gironde estuary, which is formed by the merging of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Vineyards can be found on both the east and west sides of the estuary, which are very popular and worth visiting on your holiday.
Shop ‘til You Drop
Bordeaux is home to the longest shopping strip in Europe, Rue Saint Catherine. Measuring 1.2 kilometres long, the street is a combination of shopping centres, high-end stores, brasseries and cafés, including the famous department store Galeries Lafayette, whose interior is designed to resemble a royal palace.
Bordeaux is twinned with eighteen cities around the world, including Fukuoka in Japan, Quebec City in Canada, Casablanca in Morocco, St Petersburg in Russia and Bristol in the UK.
Bordeaux is second only to Paris in being the French city with the most historical monuments – it is home to an astonishing 362 monuments, some of which date back as far as Roman times. It is also second to Paris for the most protected buildings.
Capital of Wine
Vinexpo, one of the world’s largest wine exhibitions, is held here every other year, with over 2000 exhibitors from the wine and spirit industries appearing every time. Bordeaux is one of the best places to head to for wine connoisseurs, being the biggest producer of wines such as Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. 700 million bottles are produced every year!
No Tall Buildings
There are no skyscrapers in Bordeaux, due to the weakness of the underlying soil. This has worked in the city’s favour, however, with its centre retaining its traditional stone mansions and smart terraces, earning it the label “Little Paris”.
Around 250,000 people call Bordeaux home, though it is estimated that including the wider metro area, Bordeaux, in fact, has a population approaching a million people!
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The city and port of Bordeaux were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, and has been described by the organisation as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble”. The status was awarded as the city has a wonderful history, with outstanding architecture.
Now you know more about the wonderful place of Bordeaux, don't hesitate to get in touch and book a gorgeous villa in the region for a fantastic holiday with your family!