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 (in Gascon: Bordèu) is a port city on the Garonne Rivermarker in southwest Francemarker, with one million inhabitants in its metropolitan area at a 2008 estimate. It is the capital of the Aquitainemarker region, as well as the prefecture of the Girondemarker department. Its inhabitants are called Bordelais.

The Bordeaux-Arcachonmarker-Libournemarker metropolitan area, with a population of 1,010,000, is the seventh largest metropolitan area in France. The city is among the world's major wine industry centres. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the eighth century. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century.


Between 30,000 and 20,000 years ago the area of Bordeaux was inhabited by the Neanderthal, whose remains have been found at a famous cave known as Pair-non-Pair, near Bourg sur Gironde, just north of Bordeaux. In historical times, around 300 BC it was the settlement of a Celtic tribe, the Bituriges Vivisci, who named the town Burdigala, probably of Aquitainian origin. The name Bourde is still the name of a river south of the city.

The city fell under Roman rule around 60 BC, its importance lying in the commerce of tin and lead towards Rome. Later it became capital of Roman Aquitaine, flourishing especially during the Severan dynasty (third century). In 276 it was sacked by the Vandals. Further ravage was brought by the same Vandals in 409, the Visigoths in 414 and the Franks in 498, beginning a period of obscurity for the city.

In the late sixth century, the city reemerged as the seat of a county and an archdiocese within the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks. The city fell into obscurity as royal power waned in southern Gaul in the late seventh century. The city was plundered by the troops of Abd er Rahman in 732, after he had defeated Duke Eudes and before he was killed during the Battle of Tours on October 10.

Under the Carolingians were appointed a series of Counts of Bordeaux who served to defend the mouth of the Garonnemarker from the Vikings. Eventually, the city was inherited by the Dukes of Gascony in the late tenth century.

From the 12th to the 15th century, Bordeaux regained importance following the marriage of Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine with the French-speaking Count Henri Plantagenet, born in Le Mansmarker, who became, within months of their wedding, King Henry II of England. The city flourished, primarily due to wine trade, and the cathedral of St. Andrémarker was built. It was also the capital of an independent state under Edward, the Black Prince (1362-1372), but in the end, after the Battle of Castillonmarker (1453) it was annexed by France which extended its territory. The Château Trompette (Trumpet Castle) and the Fort du Hâ, built by Charles VII of France, were the symbols of the new domination, which however deprived the city of its richness by halting the wine commerce with England.

In 1462, Bordeaux obtained a parliament, but regained importance only in the 16th century when it became the center of the distribution of sugar and slaves from the West Indiesmarker along with the traditional wine.

Bordeaux adhered to the Fronde, being effectively annexed to the Kingdom of France only in 1653, when the army of Louis XIV entered the city.

The 18th century was the golden age of Bordeaux. Many downtown buildings (about 5,000), including those on the quays, are from this period. Victor Hugo found the town so beautiful he once said: "take Versailles, add Antwerpmarker, and you have Bordeaux". Baron Haussmann, a long-time prefect of Bordeaux, used Bordeaux's 18th century big-scale rebuilding as a model when he was asked by Emperor Napoleon III to transform a then still quasi-medieval Paris into a "modern" capital that would make France proud.

The French government was relocated from Paris to Bordeaux very briefly during World War II, when it became apparent that Parismarker would soon fall into German hands. The French capital was soon moved again to Vichymarker.

From 1940 to 1943, the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina Italiana) established, BETASOM a submarine base at Bordeaux. Italian submarines participated in the Battle of the Atlantic from this base.


Bordeaux is located close to the European Atlanticmarker coast, in the southwest of France and in the north of the Aquitaine region. It is around southwest of Paris. The city is built on a bend of the river Garonnemarker, and is divided into two parts: the right bank to the east and left bank in the west. Historically, the left bank is more developed. In Bordeaux, the Garonne Rivermarker is accessible to ocean liners. The left bank of the Garonne is a low-lying, often marshy plain.


Bordeaux's climate is usually classified as an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb); however, the summers tend to be warmer and the winters milder than most areas of similar classification. Substantial summer rainfall prevents it from being classified as a Mediterranean climate.

Winters are mild because of the prevalence of westerly winds from the Atlantic. Summers are warm and long due to the influence from the Bay of Biscay (surface temperature reaches 21-22 °C or 70-72 °F). The average seasonal winter temperature is , recent winters tend to be much higher than this. The average summer seasonal temperature is , but every summer in the decade beginning 2001 has been above this, including the summer of 2003 the hottest summer ever recorded at .



Bordeaux has about of vineyards, 57 appellations, 10,000 wine-producing châteaux and 13,000 grape growers. With an annual production of approximately 850 million bottles, Bordeaux produces large quantities of everyday wine as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world. Included among the latter are the area's five 'premier cru' (first growth) red wines (four from Médoc and one, Château Haut-Brion, from Graves), established by the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855:The first growths are:

*In 1855 Mouton-Rothschild was ranked a Second Growth. In 1973, it was elevated to First Growth status.

Both red and white wines are made in Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux is called claret in the United Kingdommarker. Red wines are generally made from a blend of grapes, and may be made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit verdot, Malbec, and, less commonly in recent years, Carménère. White Bordeaux is made from Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Sauternes is a subregion of Graves known for its intensely sweet, white, dessert wines such as Château d'Yquem.

Because of the wine glut (wine lake), the price squeeze caused by increasingly strong international competition, and vine pull schemes, the number of growers has recently dropped from 14,000 and the area under vine has also decreased significantly.


The Laser Mégajoule will be one of the most powerful lasers in the world, allowing fundamental research and the development of the lasers and plasmas technologies. This project, carried by the French Ministry of Defence, involves an investment of 2 billion euros. In 2009, the 600 experiments programmed each year with the Laser Mégajoule will begin. The "Road of the lasers", a major project of regional planning for the optical and lasers industries, will be born. Therefore, the area of Bordeaux will shelter the most important concentration of optical and laser experts in Europe.

20,000 people work for the aeronautic industry in Bordeaux. The city has some of the biggest companies including Dassault, EADS Sogerma, Snecma, Thales, SNPE, and others. The Dassault Falcon private jets are built there as well as the military aircraft Rafale and Mirage 2000, the Airbus A380 cockpit, the boosters of Ariane 5, and the M51 SLBM missile.

Tourism is a major industry, especially concerning wine-making.

The port lies on the Atlantic ocean and the Gironde estuarymarker. Almost 9 million tons of goods arrive and leave each year. The Port is a nice area to sit and relax, a good place to tour if ever visiting.

List of major companies in Bordeaux

This list includes both companies based in Bordeaux and outside companies with major operations in the city.


In the 1999 census, there were 215,363 inhabitants in the city (commune) of Bordeaux. The 2005 census showed a significant increase, as this figure reached 230,600 inhabitants. In 2007, there were 660,000 inhabitants in the Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux. The majority of the population is French, but there are sizable groups of Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Turks, Germans and North Africans. The built-up area has grown swiftly in recent years and urban sprawl is now a problem.



The university was created by the archbishop Pey Berland and was abolished in 1793, during the French Revolution, before reappearing in 1808 with Napoleon I. Bordeaux accommodates approximately 70,000 students on one of the largest campuses of Europe (235 ha).The University of Bordeaux is divided into four:

  • The University Bordeaux 1 (Physical sciences and Technologies), 10,693 students in 2002
  • The University Bordeaux 2 (Medicine and Life sciences), 15,038 students in 2002
  • The University Bordeaux 3 (Liberal Arts, Humanities, Languages, History), 14,785 students in 2002
  • The University Bordeaux 4 (Law, Economy and Management). 12,556 students in 2002


Bordeaux has numerous public and private schools offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Engineering schools:

Business and management schools:
  • IUT Techniques de Commercialisation of Bordeaux (Business School)
  • Bordeaux école de management (Bordeaux Management School)
  • EBP International
  • Institut des hautes études économiques et commerciales
  • École de commerce européenne


Place de la Bourse
The church of St Pierre
Façade of the Church of the Holy Cross
Palais Gallien
Place de la Bourse
Rue Sainte-Catherine

Main sights

Bordeaux is classified "City of Art and History". The city has been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble".

Bordeaux is home to one of Europe's biggest 18th century architectural urban areas, making it a sought-after destination for tourists and cinema production crews. It stands out as one of the first French cities, after Nancymarker, to have entered an era of urbanism and metropolitan big scale projects, with the team Gabriel father and son, architects for King Louis XV, under the supervision of two intendants (Governors), first Dupre de Saint Maur then the Marquis de Tourny.


Main sights include:
  • Esplanade des Quinconces
  • Colonnes des Girondins
  • Grand Théâtremarker
  • Allées de Tourny
  • Cours de l'Intendance
  • Place du Chapelet
  • Pont de pierremarker
  • Saint-André Cathedralmarker, consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096. Of the Original Romanesque edifice only a wall in the nave remain. The Royal Gate is from the early thirteenth century, while the rest of the construction is mostly from the 14th-15th centuries.
  • Tour Pey Berland (1440-1450), a massive, quadrangular tower annexed to the cathedral.
  • Église Sainte-Croixmarker (Church of the Holy Cross). It lies on the site of a 7th century abbey destroyed by the Saracens. Rebuilt under the Carolingians, it was again destroyed by the Normans in 845 and 864. It is annexed to a Benedictine abbey founded in the 7th century, and was built in the late 11th-early 12th centuries. The façade is in Romanesque style
  • The Gothic basilica of Saint-Michel, constructed in the late 14th-15th centuries.
  • Basilica of Saint-Seurin, the most ancient church in Bordeaux. It was built in the early 6th century on the site of a palaeochristian necropolis. It has an eleventh century portico, while the apse and transept are from the following century. The 13th century nave has chapels from the 11th and the 14th centuries. The ancient crypt houses sepulchres of the Merovingian family.
  • Palais Rohan (Exterior:)
  • Palais Gallien, the remains of a late second century Roman amphitheatre
  • Porte Cailhau
  • La Grosse Cloche (15th century) is the second remaining gate of the Medieval walls. It was the belfry of the old Town Hall. It consists of two 40 m-high circular towers and a central bell tower housing a bell weighing . The watch is from 1759.
  • Église Saint-Éloi
  • Place de la Bourse(1730-1775), designed by the Royal architect Jacques Ange Gabriel as landscape for an equestrian statue of Louis XV.
  • Place du Parlement
  • Place Saint-Pierre
  • Rue Sainte-Catherine
  • The Betasom submarine base

Saint-André Cathedralmarker, Saint-Michel Basilica and Saint-Seurin Basilica are part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Francemarker.

Contemporary architecture

  • Fire Station, la Benauge, Claude Ferret/Adrien Courtois/Yves Salier, 1951-1954
  • Court of first instance, Richard Rogers, 1998
  • CTBA, wood and furniture research centre, A. Loisier, 1998
  • Hangar 14 on the Quai des Chartrons, 1999
  • The Management Science faculty on the Bastide, Anne Lacaton/Jean-Philippe Vassal, 2006
  • The Jardin botanique de la Bastidemarker, Catherine Mosbach/Françoise Hélène Jourda/Pascal Convert, 2007
  • The Nuyens School complex on the Bastide, Yves Ballot/Nathalie Franck, 2007
  • Seeko'o Hotel on the Quai des Chartrons, King Kong architects, 2007


  • Musée des Beaux Arts (Fine arts museum), one of the finest painting gallery in France
  • Musée d'Aquitaine
  • Musée du Vin et du Négoce
  • Musée des Arts Décoratifs
  • Musée d'Histoire Naturelle
  • CAPC
  • Musée National des Doines
  • French Cruiser Colbert - now closed
  • Vinorama
  • Musée Goupil
  • Casa de Goya
  • Cap Sciences
  • Centre Jean Moulin

Parks and gardens


Bordeaux has many shopping options. In the heart of Bordeaux is Rue Sainte-Catherine. This pedestrian only shopping street has of shops, restaurants and cafés; it is also the longest shopping street in Europe. Rue Sainte-Catherine starts at Place de la Victoire and ends at Place de la Comédie by the Grand Théâtre. The shops become progressively more upmarket as one moves towards Place de la Comédie and the nearby Cours de l'Intendance is where one finds the more exclusive shops and boutiques.


Bordeaux is also the first city in France to have created, in the 1980s, an architecture exhibition and research centre, Arc en rêve, still the most prestigious in France besides Paris IFA.Bordeaux offers a large number of cinemas, theatres and is the home of the Opéra national de Bordeauxmarker. There are many music venues of varying capacity. The city also offers several festivals throughout the year.



Radio stations

These are the radio station in Bordeaux.
  • Wit FM: (pop, rock, dance music)
  • Black Box: (Hip-Hop, R&B, Ragga, Funk, Soul, Disco)
  • Radio Nova Sauvagine: (alternative music)
  • Campus FM: (Alternative Music)
  • RIG: (world music)
  • La Clé des Ondes: (world music)
  • TRG: (pop music)
  • ARL: (world music)




Concert rooms



Bordeaux is an important road and motorway junction. The city is connected to Paris by the A10 motorway, with Lyon by the A89, with Toulouse by the A62, and with Spain by the A63. There is a ring road called the "Rocade" which is often very busy. The building of another ring road is under consideration.


Bordeaux has four road bridges that cross the Garonnemarker, the Pont de pierre built in the 1820s and three modern bridges built after 1960: the Pont Saint Jean, just south of the Pont de pierremarker (both located downtown), the Pont d'Aquitainemarker, a suspended bridge downstream from downtown, and the Pont François Mitterrand, located upstream of downtown. These two bridges are part of the ring road around Bordeaux. There is also a steel railway bridge, built in the 1850s by Gustave Eiffel, and used daily by 100s, including the TGV, a very high speed train.


The main railway station, Gare de Bordeaux Saint-Jeanmarker, near the centre of the city, has 4 million passengers a year. It is served by the French national (SNCF) railway's high speed train, the TGV, that gets to Parismarker in three hours, with connections to major European centres such as Lillemarker, Brusselsmarker, Amsterdammarker, Cologne, Genevamarker and Londonmarker. The TGV also serves Toulousemarker and Irunmarker from Bordeaux. A regular train service is provided to Nantesmarker, Nicemarker, Marseillemarker and Lyonmarker. The Gare Saint-Jean is the major hub for regional trains (TER) operated by the SNCF to Arcachonmarker, Limogesmarker, Agenmarker, Périgueuxmarker, Paumarker and Bayonnemarker.


Bordeaux is served by an international airport, Aéroport de Bordeaux Mérignacmarker, located from the city centre in the suburban city of Mérignacmarker.

Trams, buses and boats

Bordeaux has an important public transport system called Tram et Bus de la CUB (TBC). This company is run by the Connex group. The network consists of:
  • 3 tram lines (A, B and C)
  • 75 bus routes, all connected to the tramway network (from 1 to 96)
  • 12 night bus routes (from S1 to S12)
  • An electric bus shuttle in the city centre
  • A boat shuttle on the Garonne river
This network is operated from 5am to 1am

There have been several plans for a subway network to be set up but they were given up for both geological and financial reasons. The tramway system was started in the autumn of 2000 and commenced service in December 2003, connecting Bordeaux with its suburban areas. It uses the APS technology, a brand new and exclusive cableless technology developed by French company Alstom and designed to preserve the aesthetic environment the tramway is surrounded by (although very controversial for its considerable cost of installation and maintenance, but also for the numerous technical problems that paralyzed the network for an unusually long time even if those problems have been resolved). At the same time many downtown streets and squares along the tramway lines became pedestrian areas, with limited access by cars.


There are more than 400 taxicabs in Bordeaux.


The Stade Chaban-Delmasmarker is the largest stadium. It can host 35000 spectators.There are two major sport teams in Bordeaux:

There is a wooden velodrome, Vélodrome du Lac, in Bordeaux which hosts international cycling competition in the form of UCI Track Cycling World Cup events.



Bordeaux was the birthplace of:

International relations

Twin towns - sister cities

Bordeaux is twinned with:


See also


External links

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