NULL bool(true) Sightseeing in Bordeaux? Our Top 10 - Memosine Blog

Bordeaux was listed as the trendiest and most attractive city in the world in 2017 by Lonely Planet guide. What a change for this city once nicknamed “sleeping beauty” 

On your way to Bordeaux but you don’t know what to visit? In just two days, discover 10 must-see places in this charming city!

 

1. Place de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Square) and its water mirror 

 

miroir d'eau

Credit: Christophe Bouthe

 

After a short walk along the banks of the Garonne River, you will come upon one of Bordeaux’s most famous square. The Place de la Bourse has one of the most beautiful fronts of Europe and it is reflected in the biggest water mirror in the world! 

 

Historical fact: 

After the statue of King Louis 15 was taken down during the French Revolution, a new fountain was ordered by Bordeaux to the Parisian Ludovico Visconti. Unfortunately, he died before completing the order. In 1854, his son, Léon Ludovico gave his fathers sketches to the city and the construction restarted. Gumery and Jauhando were in charge of the project and in 1869, the magnificent fountain was completed as Visconti has drawn it.

 

 

2. The Grand Theatre and the Quinconces Square 

 

Credit: Hôtel tour intendance

 

The Grand Theatre is located in the heart of Bordeaux. Listed as a Historical Monument, it is one of the most renown places in the city with its 12 statues of 9 muses and 3 goddesses. They were sculpted by Pierre François Berruer [1733-1797). Nowadays, the building houses the national Opera of Bordeaux. Just a street away, you can’t miss the Quinconces Square with its huge esplanade pointing to the Garonne. 

 

Historical fact: 

During the construction of the Grand Theatre, the Parisian architect Victor Louis was put in charge. This triggered the jealousy of another architect who was not selected for the project. He decided to build a hotel taller by just one level across the street so that the Grand Theater would look smaller. This is the story of one of the most beautiful hotels in Bordeaux: the Grand Hotel.
The Grand Theatre had to gain back some height to look more majestic and the road in front was dug up. To this day, if you walk on the Comedy Square, you will see that the road is at an angle and that there are stairs in front of the building to make it look grand.

 

 

3. Saint-André Cathedral 

 

Credit: Caroline Vivier

 

On the Pey Berland Square, Saint-André Cathedral is an iconic landmark in Bordeaux. It is its most beautiful religious building. Built between the 11th and 16 centuries and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is also linked with the Way of Saint James, a famous European pilgrimage, as an important church to be visited. 

 

Historical Fact: 

The cathedral is  built on wood columns that are sinking down to the hard rock underneath because of the wet soil. It is due to this fragility that the bell tower had to be built next to the cathedral. 

 

 

4. The waterfront and the Pont de Pierre (Stone Bridge) 

 

Pont de Pierre de nuit

Credit: Caroline Vivier

 

Build on Napoléon’s order between 1810 and 1922, the Pont de Pierre was the first bridge to link the right and left banks of the Garonne River. Before, the river had to be crossed by boat. It is now listed as a Historical Monument since 2002. 

 

Did you know? 

The bridge has 17 arches. This is exactly the number of letters in Napoléon Bonaparte’s name. Is this a reference to the emperor? It is a controversial theory that delights people of all ages. 

 

 

5. The Big Bell 

 

Crédit: Steve Le Clech

 

The Big Bell is a remain of the old city walls; It is one of the oldest belfry in France. It was built in 1759. In the 13th century, bells like this one would be used to warn people about fires and announce the grape harvest. The main bell, “Armande Louise” weighs 7750kg and used to ring only 5 times a year for special occasions. Nowadays it rings the 1st Sunday of every month. 

 

Historical Fact: 

This charming gate used to serve as jail and housed the cells of the criminals of the time. Those cells were nicknamed the “Gold Lion Hotel” due to the gold weather vane in the shape of an English lion. 

 

 

6. Cailhau Gate 

 

Credit: LE MAP Bordeaux

 

High of 35 meters, the Cailhau Gate was built in memory of the victory of Charles 8 at Fornoue (Italie) in 1495. This gate is one of the last remains of medieval Bordeaux. 

 

Did you know? 

What does Cailhau mean? 

Legend has it that the name come from the rocks at the bottom of the gate [“cailloux” in french). Sailors used to pick them up to use them as weight in their boats. 

 

 

7. Pey Berland Square 

 

Credit: Jean-Christophe BENOIST

 

Located nearRohan Palace and the Alsace-Lorraine courtyard, Pey Berland Square is one of the most popular places in Bordeaux. It is were Saint-André Cathedral and the Pey Berland Bell Tower are. 

 

Did you know? 

The name of the Square and the bell tower come from Pierre Berland who was Bordeaux’s archbishop from 1430 to 1456. 

 

 

8. Parlement Square 

 

Crédit: CRTA – OT de Bordeaux

 

Created in 1760, Parlement Square is an talian-inspired square located in the city center. In the middle, the beautiful fountain dating from the Second Empire was designed by Louis-Michel Garros, an architect from Bordeaux.  

 

Did you know?  

Parlement Square used to be called Royal Market Square then Freedom Market Square. Its current name was given in honor of Bordeaux’s Parliament destroyed in 1790. 

 

 

9. The Cité du Vin (The Wine Museum) 

 

Crédit: Arnaud Bertrande

 

55 meters high and 9000 m3 of concrete, this grandiose building opened in 2016 and is dedicated to all of the aspects of wine. Its architecture and curves are reminiscent of a wine glass and are designed to stand out of the surroundings. 

 

Did you know? 

It is during a wine tasting that the two architects found the inspiration for their design. 

 

 

10. Gallien Palace

 

Crédit : Francois-Poincet

 

Gallien Palace is the oldest ruin in Bordeaux. It started as an arena during the Roman era, was transformed into a landfill than a stone quarry to finally end up as a park in the ’90s. In its glory days as an arena, the building was almost 135 meters long and a little over 20 meters high. It could seat 20000 peopleNowadays only a few ruins remain. 

 

Did you know? 

During the Middle Ages, the building had a bad reputation as a criminal hideout. Many dull races and duels were organized there. It was also a den for prostitutes and crooks. Legends also started to spread about the ruins, they were rumored to be a place were witches met to celebrate Sabbat. 

 

 

Here you go! You now know 10 must-see places in Bordeaux! To be continued…

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