The Art   Of      living

The refinement of Bordeaux seeps into all aspects of its culture, history and lifestyle. Our series of articles is intended to inspire and entertain.

The Renaissance of Bordeaux

Everyone knows that Bordeaux is something to be sipped, savored, supped with friends, and sniffed with pleasure. Bordeaux is also to be admired, visited from the banks of the Garonne, rambled along its length and breadth, explored through its narrow lanes and wide, shaded squares. Bordeaux is to be lived, even intensely so. To the many visitors who tread its cobblestones each year, Bordeaux reveals its charm, its flamboyant architecture, the timeless beauty of its ancient stones.

Twenty years of renovation projects of colossal scale were needed to restore the city to its former beauty, rendering it the European capital of classical architecture. Façade facelifts, landscaping and urban space conversion, implementation of innovative transportation solutions, up-and-coming new districts – all based on a fierce desire to modernize the city while preserving its heritage, heart, and soul.

The old warehouses, once used to store barrels for shipping, have become restaurants, apartments, and living areas, an aesthetic combination of new design and timeworn stone. Bordeaux residents now navigate the city’s long avenues in the tranquil silence of modern-day trams. Places once overwhelmed by traffic have been given back to pedestrians, who now linger on restaurant terraces on sunny Bordelais days. Entire neighborhoods have been renovated – Chartrons, La Bastide, Saint-Michel – and, year round, the waterfront comes alive with countless events: the River Festival, the Wine Festival, flea markets, concerts, sports. The city experienced a cultural reawakening in 2007 when it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its outstanding urban and architectural ensemble.

In the wake of this all-encompassing renaissance, Bordeaux was granted a special place in both the French gastronomic landscape, as an ambassador of the new culinary melting pot, and in the realm of travel, as a hub for wine tourism. The region’s relaxed lifestyle and the warm, hospitable nature of its wineries make Bordeaux a major destination for cultural connoisseurs, lifestyle lovers, and oenology enthusiasts. With four and a half kilometers of renovated quays, the metamorphosis is spectacular, indeed. The massive revamping has brought the banks of the Garonne back to their appearance of the 18th century, when this port was the biggest in France and the second-largest in Europe. The 80-meter-wide quays, accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, were redesigned by urban planner Michel Corajoud. From south to north, from the Saint-Michel district to the Quai de Bacalan, those who stroll the banks of the Garonne now enjoy the breathtaking sight of a city having regained its grandeur, beauty, and splendor. As in a tantalizing tapestry, each quay unveils its own unique character which, when united with the rest, forges the unmistakable identity of the city of Bordeaux.

Bordeaux, the wine capital of the world, is now the most vibrant, dynamic city in southwest France. Some proclaim it to be as European as Barcelona, Naples, and Amsterdam.


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