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Travel to Bordeaux, France
There are so many reasons Bordeaux should be top of your list when visiting France.
Bordeaux always has plenty to offer; it is the largest urban area recognised by UNESCO, it was voted the best European destination 2015, and, of course, it is home to some of the world’s most prestigious vineyards and châteaux. More than 350 buildings are classified as historical monuments.
Here are reasons to fall in love with this city.
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. The Cathedral of Saint Andrew compares to the Notre-Dame in Paris in its grandeur and features an impressive facade with sculptures of the Last Supper, the Ascension, and Christ in Majesty.
Le Grand Théâtre
The Grand Théâtre is the centerpiece of the Place de la Comédie, a hub of city life and the ancient site of the Roman Forum. One of the city's most emblematic buildings, this monumental theater was built in 1780 in the inspiring new Classical style of Bordeaux. The building was designed by architect Victor Louis who also designed the Palais Royal and Théâtre Français in Paris. The exterior features 12 colossal Corinthian columns along with statues representing the nine muses and the goddesses Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Inside the theater, visitors are awed by splendid foyers and grand staircases. For a memorable experience, spend an evening at the theater to enjoy a performance by the National Orchestra or National Ballet of Bordeaux.
Place de la Bourse
Lining the quays of Bordeaux for a half mile are elegant classical buildings from the 18th century. This impressive collection of architecture along the river was designed to welcome and impress visitors. The most magnificent example of this neoclassical architecture is the Place de la Bourse, which epitomizes the elegance of 18th century design. The square was built between 1730 and 1755 by members of the Gabriel family of architects. In the center of the square is the lovely Fountain of the Three Graces, surrounded by two beautiful pavilion-like buildings: the Bourse (Stock Exchange) and the Musée des Douanes (Customs Museum).
This exquisite basilica is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because it was a stop on the medieval Way of Saint James pilgrimage. The basilica features the Romanesque style typical of churches on the route to Santiago de Compostela. This exceptional church dates back to the 11th century. The choir, featuring a stone abbot's throne and ornate stalls, was built during the 14th and 15th centuries. The choir chapel is adorned with impressive Gothic reredos (decorative screens) that display 12 alabaster reliefs and a 14th-century Virgin Mary figure. The oldest part of the basilica is the 11th-century crypt, which is a treasure trove of ancient reliquaries and sarcophagi from the 6th and 7th centuries.
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.