Bordeaux's City of Wine
A theme park for oenophiles
A visit to La Cité du Vin can grow your palate with special tasting sessions and food pairing workshops. Left: The museum has a multisensory space used for special workshops, and its 250-seat Thomas Jefferson auditorium holds film screenings and concerts.
Awine-themed amusement park may sound like the whimsy of a bedraggled parent who just survived a trip to Orlando’s theme parks—but it exists. La Cité du Vin (translation: the city of wine) sits within the famed Bordeaux region of France. The adult attraction opened in May 2016 and has since been referred to as both a “Guggenheim for grape lovers” and a “theme park” by Condé Nast Traveler. Through the ages, Bordeaux has acted as the cultural capital of wine, historically connecting global civilizations via its port. La Cité du Vin sits beside the Garonne River, its striking sculptural architecture reminiscent of a knotted vine stock, eddies on the Garonne or even wine swirling in a glass, as the official website suggests. The museum’s self-guided tour begins on the ground floor of the rounded wooden vault and winds upward through 20 themed spaces. Eventually, visitors reach the eighth floor in the Belvedere, offering a 360-degree view of Bordeaux. Here visitors can taste wines from around the world as they gaze over the region’s famous vineyards and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Port de la Lune, Bordeaux’s historic port city. For more vino, the ground-floor Latitude20 Brasserie wine bar serves 50 different wines by the glass and more than 800 bottles of wines from more than 80 countries. The wine list at Restaurant Le 7 on the seventh floor has “only” 500 varieties, which are served with fine dishes made with seasonal, regional produce. Although La Cité du Vin offers a boat-ride simulation that covers wine history from 6000 B.C. to the present and a banquet reenactment of distinguished figures discussing their regional wines, the attraction is more aptly described as a museum than a theme park. Freelance travel writer Katie Hammel explains that the ginormous wine attraction is not a grown-up version of Disneyland; instead, it is “a very interactive museum that covers just about every aspect of wine history, production and culture.” She particularly enjoys the opportunities to identify unique scents and distinguish among different wine-colored shades, from garnet to ruby.
The striking architecture of La Cité du Vin sits next to the Garonne River, which carries visitors to nearby vineyards on boat tours.