6 Beautiful Places To Visit In Bordeaux
With its urban elegance and provincial charm, Bordeaux is an appealing tourist destination in a beautiful region of Southwest France. Bordeaux is called the “Port of the Moon” because of its romantic location on a crescent-shaped bend of the Garonne River. In this splendid setting that allowed trade to flourish, the city has a rich cultural heritage dating back to antiquity. UNESCO declared Bordeaux a World Heritage Site in 1998 thanks to the city’s wealth of architectural treasures. More than 350 buildings are classified as historical monuments.
Here is a list of 6 beautiful places to visit in Bordeaux:
A place of historical importance in the heart of Bordeaux, the Cathedral of Saint Andrew dates back to the 12th century. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this cathedral was part of the Route of Saint James pilgrimage trail. Pilgrims traveled through Bordeaux from the Médoc, Tours, and the British Isles on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Comparable to Notre-Dame in Paris in its grandeur, the Cathedral of Saint Andrew has an impressive facade with sculptures of the Last Supper, the Ascension, and Christ in Majesty. Interestingly, the western front side of the cathedral is completely unadorned, since it was originally too close to the old town walls. However, now opposite the cathedral stands the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), a marvelous palace built in the 1770s. Designed in the Neoclassical style typical of Bordeaux, the Hôtel de Ville is an architectural treasure with an impressive colonnaded facade.
Musée des Beaux-Arts
Set in the pleasant Jardin de la Mairie public park, the Museum of Beaux-Arts occupies part of the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). The museum offers a wonderful insight into European art history, with a collection of art spanning the 15th to the 20th centuries. The permanent collection includes masterpieces by Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Delacroix, Renoir, and Rodin, among others. Paintings are organized thematically, grouped by era and country, such as the Renaissance, 17th-century Dutch paintings, and 17th to 18th-century French paintings. The adjoining Galerie des Beaux-Arts features temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Place de la Bourse
Lining the quays of Bordeaux for a half mile are palatial classical buildings from the 18th century. The most magnificent examples are found at the Place de la Bourse, which epitomizes the elegance of 18th-century design. In the center of the square is the Fountain of the Three Graces, surrounded by two beautiful pavilion-like buildings: the Palais de la Bourse (formerly the Stock Exchange) and the Musée National des Douanes (Customs Museum), the only museum of its kind in France. These graceful quayside monuments overlook the banks of the Garonne River. Take a scenic walk alongside the Garonne River to admire the glorious architecture of the Place de la Bourse and the shimmering reflections of the buildings in the river.
Exemplifying an extravagant “Rayonnant Gothic” style, this basilica, dedicated to the Archangel, is another important church on the Route of Santiago pilgrimage trail. Along with the Cathedral of Saint Andrew and the Basilica of Saint Seurin, the Basilica of Saint Michael is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica took 200 years to build, from the 14th to 16th centuries. The church presents a pleasing unity of architectural style, described as “Rayonnant Gothic” (the 13th-century French style of ornate Gothic architecture). From the top of the freestanding belfry, you can take in stunning panoramic views of the city. After visiting the basilica, enjoy a stroll around the Quartier Saint-Michel that surrounds the basilica. This quarter to the south of the Pont de Pierre is the most colorful and atmospheric neighborhood of Bordeaux.
The only remaining vestige of the Roman era in Bordeaux, the Palais Gallien was built in the late 2nd century and was located just outside the town of “Burdigala.” This immense amphitheater could accommodate 15,000 spectators on wooden benches. Visiting this exceptional site allows you to envision life during Roman times. The amphitheater offered typical brutal Roman entertainment such as gladiator combats.
Pont de Pierre
One of the iconic sights in Bordeaux, the Pont de Pierre (Stone Bridge) blends perfectly with the city’s elegant riverfront buildings. Imagined in 1817 by engineer Claude Descamps, the Pont de Pierre was completed in 1821 after years of construction work. The result is a beautiful feat of engineering. The bridge spans the Garonne River with 17 graceful arches supported by foundation piles that are set into the riverbed and well designed to withstand strong currents. In the history of Bordeaux, this was the first bridge to cross the Garonne River.
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