Once a powerful trade empire, later a dull and grey industrial city, and now a feast for the eyes. The ugly duckling has become a self-assured swan. Living the good life in a beautiful setting is Bordeaux in a nutshell. Get acquainted with ‘La belle endormie', better known as Sleeping Beauty.
Bordeaux is located in south-western France along the banks of the Garonne River. The city thrived in the 18th century and owes its opulent architecture to this 'Golden Age'. The face of the city was later dominated by sombre factories, but underwent a major face-lift at the end of the 20th century. And with impressive results. The city centre was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007.
Part of that heritage is the Saint André Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1096, making it the oldest church in the city. It is, however, not the highest one. That honour belongs to the Saint Michel Basilica, with a bell tower that is an impressive 114 metres in height. It takes a bit of energy to climb to the top, but the breath-taking views are well worth the effort.
Those looking to relax after a long day of taking in culture can visit Les Quais (the wharves). The banks of the Garonne were once lined with grey factories, but these have now been replaced by wide promenades. The resurrection of Bordeaux clearly asserts itself here, where life moves at a slower pace.
To many people ‘Bordeaux’ is synonymous with wine. The city has no fewer than 14,000 wineries and 117,514 hectares of vineyards. Every year, seven billion bottles make their way to wine lovers around the world. It is therefore not surprising in this ‘wine capital of the world’ that the local cuisine is both literally and figuratively coloured by the use of Bordeaux wine.
Bordeaux lies close to the sea, which has also influenced its cuisine. Stockfish (unsalted cod) and oysters are particularly popular. Meat lovers can enjoy 'entrecôte à la bordelaise’, obviously accompanied by a dark red wine sauce. The most unique local speciality is canelés, small pastries with a soft and tender custard centre. Since they have to be eaten immediately, they are unsuitable for export. This genuinely local delicacy can only be purchased at quality bakeries and can be enjoyed any time of day or night with any kind of drink. Reason enough to forget calorie counting and embark on a culinary expedition.