Bits of Bordeaux

Looking down on the Cathedral.

Bordeaux is an interesting city.

In its time it was one of the richest ports in Europe, and therefore the world. Slaves, sugar and wine all flowed up the river and over its banks. But way, way before that the Neanderthals had settled the area until they were knocked out by our own ancestors. The Celts had a settlement but the Romans took over around 60 BC to facilitate the movement of tin and lead towards Rome. The Vandals, the Visigoths and the Franks washed over the town and drove it into obscurity for a while.

The big bell tower.

It wasn’t until the 15th Century that Bordeaux regained some of its former glory. Eleanor of Aquitaine brought the city with her when she married Count Henri Plantagenet, who within months became Henry II of England. On the back of the wine trade the city flourished. It was around this time that the Cathedral and tower we visited today were completed.

But the 18th Century was Bordeaux’s golden age when its riches allowed the construction of a planned and beautiful town. Baron Haussmann used it as inspiration for the famous remodelling of Paris. Bordeaux declined during the 20th Century but over the last few years it has been massively upgraded.

A plaza.

Today it has beautiful refurbished buildings, a modern public transport system and a huge University bringing with it a vibrant lifestyle. The French do many things well, and one of those is students. They all have a distinctive French student look; one which the anti-smoking lobby appears to have had no significant impact upon. As you walk about Bordeaux’s extensive pedestrian areas there are coffee shops and patisseries on every corner filled with earnest bearded young men in deep conversation with young women in flowing summer dresses.

I can’t say there’s a huge amount to do here for a visit with kids, but it is undoubtedly a lovely city to just wander about in.

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