A City Reawakened
IT WASN’T LONG AGO that Bordeaux was cloaked in a dark and dirty layer of soot. But the port city brims with new life thanks to Mayor Alain Juppé, whose ambitious urban-renewal project has buffed and polished the 18th-century Haussmannian structures, Romanesque churches, and cobblestone streets to a brilliant shine.
No longer a mere pit stop en route to the vineyards, Juppé’s new Bordeaux overflows with reasons to stay in town: Newly constructed trams, pedestrian walkways, and bike paths now connect the historic city center with burgeoning neighborhoods packed full of vibrant cafés, boutiques, and museums. And perched on the banks of the Garonne River in the Bassins à Flot district is perhaps the most convincing evidence of a city on the rise: the striking new Cité du Vin (lacitedu vin.com). The museum, whose curving facade resembles a giant glass of swirling wine, is easily worth a full day of exploration on its own. Wander its multisensory exhibits tracing the worldwide history of winemaking before embarking on a self-guided tour of the Latitude20 wine bar’s collection of more than 800 vintages.
The historic Grand Théâtre