Plan a vacation in Bordeaux France
Villa rentals in southwest France are particularly popular with Europeans, offering a warm Mediterranean climate, historic bastide towns, acres of vineyards, wine tastings and some beautiful places to visit. If you are planning to rent a villa in France, I would definitely recommend staying within driving distance of the breathtaking city of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux is situated on the banks of the broad Garonne River and is one of the largest cities, geographically speaking, in Europe. It is very flat, both in the natural terrain and the lack of high-rise buildings. Surrounded by the many revered wine-producing chateaux of the Bordeaux area, the region is responsible for a €14.5 billion economy in the wine trade. Naturally, it offers some delectable red and white wines at very affordable prices. In fact it is one of the few places I know where a litre of wine is cheaper than a litre of petrol/gas!
Driving over one of the bridges into the city you are immediately confronted by an endless terrace of grand neoclassical buildings, typically Parisian in style with their black mansard roofs and oval “oeil de boeuf” dormer windows. Solid stone walls are regularly broken up with rows of tall sash windows and upper windows are topped with heavy carved stonework. The miles of grand buildings are fronted towards the river with wide pavements ideal for promenading.
The original gateways to the city can still be seen, their towers standing like grand sentinels topped with conical turrets above the narrow portal. The Grosse Cloche (grand bell) dates back to the 13-15th centuries and houses a huge bell which weighs 7,800 kg and sports a golden leopard weathervane. The tower was once part of the city walls and an astronomical clock graces the wall. Further along the original city boundary the Porte Cailhau is similarly impressive.
The most impressive plaza overlooking the river is the Place Royale, with the massive Palais de la Bourse on the right, a central pavilion in the center and the Hotel des Fermes on the left, which now houses the National Customs and Excise Museum.
If you step across the tram lines and the busy four-lane highway you can reach the newest addition to the waterfront – the Mirroir d’Eau. This flat area of slate paving has vents which occasionally release water vapour which condenses to create a mist drifting across the area. It makes photographs of people walking through it quite surreal! At other times, the vents release water which flows as a shallow paddling area and visitors take off their shoes and socks and leap around. Finally, the wet slates become still and perfectly reflect the Palais de Bourse building across the highway.
If you can linger in the area for a while, visit the Grand Theatre built in 1773. Opulent within, the exterior has a portico supported by 12 columns and on the rooftop 12 stone statues represent mythological muses and goddesses.
Finally, choose a restaurant on the waterfront and enjoy the stunning view as you dine on the very best French cuisine, washed down with a rich Bordeaux house wine – the best!