We all think of Bordeaux as the capital wine region of the world, it is indeed the oldest and most prestigious wine region in France. But seldom do we think of Bordeaux as a city to visit. Well it certainly took me by surprise when I visited the city last weekend. It's a quick 3 hours on the TGV from Paris.
Well I have to say that I found Bordeaux to be one of the prettiest cities in France that I have seen so far. It has a 'vieille
ville' with gorgeous narrow lanes and beautiful neo-classical buildings and has been a UNESCO listed city since 2007. Much of the architecture of the buildings is of the 18th century with a magnificent square in the centre of the city with the Grand Theatre on one side and the Regent Grand Hotel (where I stayed) on the other. From the square you'll find Rue Sainte Catherine, which is the longest pedestrian street in all of Europe and has some great restaurants and shopping. Another gorgeous square opposite the river is Le Palais Rohan, which now serves as the City Hall, and Le Bourse. Directly across the road of this square there is a rectangle shallow pool, which reflects these 2 buildings.
Bordeaux lies on the Garonne river and owes its rich history to its
port. In the 18th century, during Bordeaux's golden age, it was
France's largest port and had a thriving slave, spice and wine trade. The quays on both sides of the river have been extensively renovated and are now during the summer months a great place for cycling, roller blading or just strolling. Plus there is a great tram system, which blends in well with the city.
I stayed at the only genuine 5 star hotel in Bordeaux, the Regent Grand, perfectly situated in the vieille ville and the area
known as the 'Golden Triangle'. A very elegant and stylish hotel, the Regent was decorated by the renowned French designer Jacques Garcia.
The weekend I was there was the unveiling of the summer's Cow Parade on display till 14 September 2010. There are hundreds of life-size fibreglass cows scattered around Bordeaux and various artists were invited to paint a cow. These are all painted and decorated; some are standing, some are sitting, the artists basically could do and design what they liked with their cow. It certainly has added colour and interest to Bordeaux. Apparently the event will finish with an auction, the proceeds of which will go to charity. Two of the cows stood out for me, one was of Brigitte Bardot, or some other sex symbol on a little scooter, and the other was of lead singer of AC/DC, an Australian rock band. The latter was placed right outside the Regent Grand Hotel. Very fitting