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BORDEAUX CITY GUIDE
Located in southwestern France, the elegant old city of Bordeaux is known as the Pearl of the Aquitaine.
Marrying neo-classical and King Louis XIV-era architecture with modern influences, a major restoration effort in the late 1990s means it now even rivals Paris for grandeur, earning deserved recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.
While the region may be best known as the centre of the fine wine world, there's plenty more to see besides the award-winning vineyards and glasses of freshly poured red.
Take a look at the incredible array of things to do in Bordeaux on an escape to France with P&O Ferries today.
Old Town Wonders in Bordeaux
The neighbourhoods that make up the Vieux Bordeaux are steeped in history as well as being some of the most exciting parts of the city.
Start your explorations in the enormous Place des Quinconces, one of the largest squares in Europe and home to the striking 43-metre tall Girondins Monument and fountain. Around the corner is the stylish Place de la Comédie, a focal point for the whole city that features the resplendent marble-columned Grand Theatre on one side, and the classically French façade of the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux opposite.
The sophistication continues throughout the Triangle d'Or Bordeaux, an array of high-end shops and restaurants at the city's core sectored off by three stunning boulevards. South of here, the gargoyle-topped Bordeaux Cathedral, Gothic clock tower of la Grosse Cloche and the eye-catching Gothic gem St Michel's Basilica are essential cultural sights.
If there is one place you can't miss out on visiting though, it’s the outstanding spectacle of the Palais de la Bourse and Miroir d'Eau. Close to the river Garonne, you'll see the symmetrical building's image is duplicated spectacularly in the world's largest reflective pool, with the spellbinding visual effect a true masterpiece of balance and harmony.
Fascinating attractions in Bordeaux
Full of art, history and activities, this city will never let you down when it comes to things to do and see.
For culture, enter the gated 18th century Hôtel Labottière mansion to find the Bernard Magrez Art Institute, which boasts an incredible selection of work by contemporary masters and breakthrough artists. If you simply can't take your thoughts away from the city's fine claret (and who could blame you?), the Musée du Vin et du Négoce tells the 2,000-year story of wine production in the region. Close by, the Jardin Public is a huge English-style park right in the heart of the city, offering visitors the chance to relax in its tranquil setting before heading out for some retail therapy.
If you're looking for alternatives to the shops at the historic Golden Triangle district, make your way to the 1.2km retail mecca of Rue Sainte-Cathérine or explore the beautiful 19th century covered shopping arcade in Passage Sarget.
One of the biggest draws to the city is, of course, wine. The region surrounding Bordeaux boasts over 120,000 hectares of vineyards, which makes it the largest grape growing area in France.
Make a wish list of your favourite wineries and explore the different appellations (or wine districts) at your own pace — on foot, by bike or as part of a tour.
To the north of the city you'll find many of the best red wine areas like Médoc, while in the south and south east, there are some of the finest sweet and dry white wines like Pessac-Léognan. It's also well worth heading east of Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion to try some blissful varieties of rosé.
Moving further afield, the largest sand dune in Europe can be found on the coast to the south west of the city. The Great Dune of Pilat is an impressive 107 metres tall and looks out to the calm waters of the Arguin sandbank and the Bay of Arcachon, with dense forest found the opposite direction inland.
Finally, be sure not to miss out on a visit to the French oyster capital of Cap Ferret while you're in the area.
Experience the delights of southwest France by visiting with P&O Ferries today on our Calais to Dover ferry crossing.