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Bordeaux

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, encompasses the historic centre of Bordeaux as an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble created in the Age of Enlightenment.

A bend in the river Garonne has created a natural harbour here, and because of its shape it's called Port of the Moon.

The most prominent examples of the period of Enlightenement, created from the 1730s, are:

- Place Royale (today Place de la Bourse)

- Allées de Tourny

- Place Dauphine (Gambetta nowadays), Place d'Aquitaine, Place de Bourgogne and Place Tourny

- public garden

- Grand Theatre

- Palais Rohan

- Place des Quinconces

Bordeaux has been a commercial centre for ages, primarily based on its wine export. It was founded as a Roman settlement in 56 B.C.

Map

Visit October 2011

There's no doubt that Bordeaux is a very pleasant and liveable city. We arrived late in the evening (11 p.m.) and our taxi driver proudly pointed out all the monumental highlights: the bridge across the Garonne, the Place de la Bourse, the old city gates and the water mirror to name but a few. They are all flooded in light after it gets dark: a very fine sight.

The next morning we did a self-guided tour of the main city area, which is not very large. The streets are well-geared to pedestrians, and everything looks very neat and well-preserved. The buildings are very uniform in style and colour. We were already completely in awe of the monumental fountain with its statues of horses at the Place de Quinconces.

As other reviewers have remarked, there are no really outstanding buildings that warrant a separate visit. The most interesting structure may be the Cathedral. This is part of the French Routes to Santiago de Compostela also, and I think that it fits that label better because of its age.

There are lots of smaller things to see and do however in the streets of Bordeaux: the pastry shops, the plentiful terraces of its bars and restaurants, the well-stocked shops (I bought some smelly cheese to take home with me!), the Jardin Public. Combined with especially sunny and warm weather for early October, we had a good time in Bordeaux.

Community Reviews


Clyde - March 2014

I visited Bordeaux in March 2014. The view of the Port while strolling on the Pont de Pierre is already something to behold. Numerous spires, steeples and elegant buildings adorn the waterfront of the Garonne river. Place de la Bourse is magnificent - the epitome of symmetry and beauty. Not only is it a wonderful sight, effortlessly accessible with the modern Bordeaux trams, but it is in a way enhanced with a touch of innovative genius. Just opposite, every now and then, the open space of the wide waterfront transforms itself first into a flooded space or giant puddle, then in an enormous mirror which depicts a surreal reflection of Place de la Bourse and then a spray fountain which slowly but surely fades away into thin air. It's not the only square to visit though - Place des Quinconces, Place Gambetta, Place de Bourgogne, Place de la Comedie, Place Jean Moulin, etc. Bordeaux is one of those cities in France that enjoy double inscription in the Unesco WH list. The Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France WHS includes Cathedral of St. Andrew, the Basilica of St. Michel and the Basilica of St. Seurin. Inside the latter, peregrinos can write their names and prayers on a peregrino guestbook inside one of the minor chapels inside the basilica. For 5,50 euros I climbed the 231 stairs of the Pey-Berland Tower and from the top I could afford incredible panoramic views of Bordeaux and a bird's eye view of the Cathedral. All in all, Bordeaux is a very interesting city for a long weekend break and a good base to visit other WHS or national sites such as the Dune of Pilat.


Klaus Freisinger - August 2012

As the other reviewers have pointed out, Bordeaux is a very pleasant city with many fine monuments and sights, and it is certainly a good base for exploring the many attractions in the surrounding area. There are several historic buildings, a large number of churches, and a fine riverfront to be explored. Even though there are no standout sights (except maybe the Monument aux Girondins at the Place des Quinconces), Bordeaux has a well-maintained centre stretching along a bend of the Garonne River (somewhat shaped like a crescent, hence the name "Port of the Moon"). The massive Cathedral of St. André, as well as the basilicas of St. Michel and St. Seurin, are also part of the Route of Santiago inscription.


Ian Cade - April 2011

I found Bordeaux to be a great, medium sized European city, though it has some lovely buildings there are no real stand out monuments. The large uniform buildings do not seem to be over-powering and the streets are reasonably sized so it doesn't feel intimidating like Paris sometimes can. For me one of the real joys of travelling in Europe is losing time in great cities like this, they do not have the masses of tourists like the continents star attractions but still showcase the architecture and lifestyle that make this such an interesting part of the world to travel in.

My first view of the city centre was the broad sweep of buildings facing the river, from here it is easy to understand the moon shaped layout of the city centre. Perhaps my highlight was strolling aimlessly along St Catherine Street watching everyone else doing pretty much the same. I also enjoyed a lovely wine-tasting session, allowing me to sample the region's most famous export. I would like to suggest this was a cultural quest to get myself better acquainted with the product that led to the development of such a grand port, however I would be lying, it was just because there are few things like more than relaxing with a glass of wine, a newspaper and a plate of cheese in a foreign city.

Bordeaux also deserves top marks for the way in which it has presented its city centre. Obviously a lot of time and money has been spent in developing the new trams system, installing wonderful lighting and street furniture. The cynical amongst us may say this is just a vanity project of a shady politician, but there is no denying that it presents the city in the best possible light and makes it a rewarding place to while away a day or two.

Bordeaux does have some nice sights, however it is the exceptionally well planned and presented layout that makes this such a charming city to spend time in, and I would have no problem going back.

[Site 6: Experience 8]


John Booth - May 2010

To get around the large city area I invested 4.10 euros in a day ticket for the trams and buses. During the course of the day I visited the three sites duplicated on the WHS Way of St James, the St Andre cathedral, St Seurin basilica and St Michaels church, as well as some Port of the Moon sites:

Palais Rohan - now the Hotel de Ville

Palais Gallieni - a Roman ruin

Portes de Bourgogne, Dijeaux and Aquitaine - triumphal arches, former city gates

Place Gambetta - a landscaped garden

Place Quinconces - a huge space with an elaborate fountain

Place de la Bourse - elegant customs buildings

Grand Theatre - an elegant colonnaded building


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Site Info

Full name: Bordeaux, Port of the Moon

Site History

Locations

The site has 1 locations.

  • Bordeaux

Connections

The site has 23 connections.

Architecture

  • English garden Jardin Public: "Under Napoleon III the gardens were transformed into a traditional English formal garden, and extended. This is the present form of the gardens."
  • Neoclassical architecture Bordeaux is exceptional in the unity of its urban and architectural classical and neo-classical expression (OUV)
  • Romanesque Church of Holy Cross

Constructions

Ecology

History

  • Slavery 18th century slave trade

Human Activity

Individual People

Religion and Belief

  • Cathedrals Cath Saint-Andre, Cath SJ-Baptitste - Former Cath

Timeline

Trivia

WHS Hotspots