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Wine tastings and food tours attract millions of tourists annually to France’s Bordeaux region. In addition to its vineyards, wineries and caves, find Roman ruins and architectural delights.
Atlantic Ocean breezes warm the limestone, gravel and clay soils of Bordeaux to create ideal climate and terroirs for many of the world’s most famous wines. Sample from 60 appellations from more than 7,000 wineries on roughly 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares). Grapes are predominantly merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Taste at family-run vineyards or very high-end wineries such as Château Lafite Rothschild.
Romans brought wine to Bordeaux in the 1st century. Now see the Roman amphitheater, the Palais Gallien, in the city center. The partial wall still standing provides a glimpse of the grandeur ancient citizens experienced. Walk northeast to reach lush green spaces in Jardin Publique and Jardin Botanique.
South along the river, visit Palais de la Bourse. Backed by clouds, the palace reflects on the mirror-like surface of the Miroir d’Eau de Bordeaux. The one-time palace is now a giant meeting hall. Return after dark when the illuminated building creates additional striking reflections.
Rent a VCub bike to cycle out into the wine country or along the Garonne River. Cross the picturesque stone bridge, Pont de Pierre, for views of the old town, including many of the more than 300 listed buildings included in Bordeaux’s identification as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue north and cross the river via the modern lift bridge, Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, to complete a 5-mile (8-kilometer) loop.
Climb to the top of the Pey Berland bell tower for views across Bordeaux. Hear stories of mummies discovered near the freestanding Saint Michel bell tower. Photograph the iconic fountain and statues in Place des Quinconces. In this large square, you’ll frequently find weekend fairs and music and sporting events.
Drive to Bordeaux or reach the city by train and walk or cycle through the town. Hire a driver to enjoy a stress-free day of winery-hopping.