Once a sleeping beauty, the wine capital of France is not to be missed
Located in the south-west of France on the Garonne River, Bordeaux is very often referred to as the wine capital of France, producing an average of 700 million bottles of wine on a yearly basis.
Once nicknamed ‘Sleeping Beauty’, because it was often overlooked in spite of its great potential as a destination, Bordeaux awoke from its slumber in the last decade, and now welcomes around 5.5 million visitors annually. In 2015, Bordeaux secured the prestigious title: Europe’s Best Destination
Featured on Malta International Airport’s 2017 summer schedule as a new route, Bordeaux can currently be reached from MIA via weekly flights. Bordeaux is the airport’s 7th French direct scheduled connection joining Paris Orly, Paris CDG, Marseille, Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse. Scheduled flights to Bordeaux opened on the 13 April 2017 with flights available every Thursday, until the end of October. During the peak months of July and August flights were also operated on Mondays, offering a double weekly connection with. Volotea expected to further develop the Bordeaux route in summer 2018.
A trip to this historic jewel in France is not to be missed, with plenty to see and wine to taste.
Strolls along the riverfront are encouraged, and one of the best sites to visit along your walk is the Place de la Bourse. The site took 20 years to construct back in the 18th century, and has become a symbol of the city. It was originally separated from the river by railings; however those were removed during the French Revolution. The equestrian statue of the king had also been replaced, briefly, by one of Napoleon, and this was followed by the Fountain of the Three Graces in 1869. Close by, one finds the Miroir d’Eau, possibly Bordeaux’s most recognisable and photographed attraction. It is recognised as a contemporary World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
But it is not just this water attraction that has UNESCO’s mark of approval... 1,810 hectares of the city are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the organisation describing its urban form as a representation of ‘the success of philosophers who wanted to make towns into melting pots of humanism, universality and culture.’
For those wine connoisseurs, Bordeaux has its very own decanter-shaped wine museum La Cité du Vin, which provides visi-
tors with an interactive winethemed experience split on 10 different levels. A good three hours should be set aside for a proper visit.
A guided tour of one of Bordeaux’s sprawling vineyards is also a must, especially if you’re after a relaxing holiday. Let’s just say that some of the finest grape juices paired with cheeses and enjoyed in the middle of nature will more than help you ‘unwined’.
Day trips to the medieval village of Saint Emilion are very popular. A visit to the charming heart of the Bordeaux wine region, where beautiful architecture, fine wineries, and narrow streets await, will transport you back to the 8th cen- tury when a monk named Emilion and his followers started wine production in the area. If you’re interested in a journey even further back in time to pre-history, do make time for a day trip to the Perigord Noir region, which is just a short drive away from Bordeaux. The region is a trove of pre-historic cave paintings, castles and charming villages.
Although all of this probably puts the city on every wine lover’s bucket list, Bordeaux certainly has much more than wine and viticulture to offer. Travellers who look for destinations with a rich history, will be pleased to find that the number of historic monuments dotting the streets of Bordeaux almost rival the number of monuments found in Paris. Indeed, some of Bordeaux’s streets and buildings date as far back as the Roman era. (But, should you still want to visit the romantic capital, the TGV can get you there for a reasonable price.)
Another must-see site is the Porte Cailhau, which dates back to 1494, and this monument has remained largely unchanged. It was constructed to commemorate Charles VIII's victory at Fornovo (Italy). This French. The Port Cailhau stands thirty-five metres tall, and was integrated into the city walls. The site houses an exhibition displaying the tools and materials used in construction during that period.
Bordeaux is indeed a very photogenic city, but if you want to capture some shots from above we recommend a visit to the PeyBerland Tower (open every day but Monday) which dates back to 1440. Some 229 steps lead to the very top of the tower, so it’s probably not the most brilliant of ideas to visit after a wine-tasting session...
Whether you discover Bordeaux via a boat trip down the Garonne, on foot or by bike (it was voted fourth-friendliest bicycle city in the world in 2013), the city is a sure treat from every angle!