Bordeaux: Wine Country

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When many think of “Bordeaux” they think of wine, and rightly so as the city of Bordeaux, France is the world’s major wine industry capital and home to some of the finest wine.

Bordeaux goes by several nicknames: La Perle d’Aquitaine and La Belle Endormie (Sleeping Beauty). It is also the capital of the Aquitane region in France. The city has a long and colorful history, being originally established around 300 BC by a Celtic tribe – the Bituriges Vvisci – and named Burdigala. In 60 BC the town fell to Roman rule, with the Romans valuing its importance in the production of tin and lead. However, the city was under constant attack, with the Visigoths in 409 AD and Franks in 498, the troops of Abd er Rahman on 732, and the Battle of River Garonne. Events and wars like these lasted all the way through the 12th century, when Bordeaux regained importance by flourishing in the wine trade as the capitol of an independent state under the rule of Edward, the Black Prince. However, it was annexed by France into its territory in 1453, thus ending its wine trade with England. Not too long after, in 1462, Bordeaux obtained a parliament, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that it began regaining its wealth by being a center for the distribution of slaves, sugar, and wine to the West Indies. The 18th century was a golden age for Bordeaux. Many beautiful buildings were built during this period, and even Victor Hugo was so taken with the city he once said “takeVersailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux.” At the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war, the French government even relocated from Paris to Bordeaux (one of three times this would happen).

Today the beautiful city has a population of 239,157 and is the 9th largest city in France. It’s filled with shops (one being the longest shopping street in Europe, the Rue Sainte-Catherine), 12 museums, contemporary architecture, historic and stunning buildings, astoundingly beautiful cathedrals, and acres and acres (287,000 to be exact) of vineyards.

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Expanding on the wine industry, for which Bordeaux is best known, there is an astonishing 10,000 wine-producing chateaus and 13,000 grape growers in this city. To top of those numbers, 960 million bottles of wine are produced annually, some of them being among the most expensive wines in the world. Both red and white wines are produced, with the red’s being made from a blend of grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and others, and the white’s made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.

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The monuments held in this city are also nothing to go unnoticed, with Bordeaux being second only to Paris in its historical monument count – 362. And, the historical buildings found here are very notable, such as the Grande Theatre, which is one of the largest neoclassical theaters in France and was built in the 18th century. You can also, among many other significant buildings, see the remains of the late 2nd century Roman ampitheatre – Palais Gallien.

Palais Gallien