Bordeaux's City of Wine

A theme park for oenophiles

Cape Coral Living - - Special Section -

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.

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