Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in southwest France, with an estimated (2008) population of 250,082. The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture of the Gironde department. Its inhabitants are called Bordelais.
Bordeaux is the world's major wine industry capital. It is home to the world's main wine fair, Vinexpo, while the wine economy in the metro area moves 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8th 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 6th century, the city re-emerged as the seat of a county and an archdiocese within the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks, but royal Frankish power was never strong. The city started to play a regional role as a major urban centre on the fringes of the newly founded Frankish Duchy of Vasconia.
The city was plundered by the troops of Abd er Rahman in 732, after he had defeated Duke Eudes in the Battle of the River Garonne near Bordeaux and before the former was killed during the Battle of Tours on 10 October. After Duke Eudes's defeat, Aquitaine pledged allegiance formally to the new rising Carolingian dinasty, but still remained out of Frankish central rule until 768 (Duke Waifer defeated). There are no bishops mentioned during the whole 8th century in Bordeaux.
Under the Carolingians were appointed a series of Counts of Bordeaux who held the title concomitantly with that of Duke of Vasconia (Duke Seguin deposed in 816 for failing to suppress or sympathise with a Basque rebellion). They were meant to keep in check the Basques and defend the mouth of the Garonne from the Vikings when the latter appeared c. 844 in the region of Bordeaux. In Autumn 845, count Seguin II marched on the Vikings assaulting Bordeaux and Saintes but was captured and put to death.
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 Mans, 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. André 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 Castillon (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 Indies 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 Antwerp, 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 relocated from Paris to Bordeaux very briefly during World War II, when it became apparent that Paris would soon fall into German hands (as in 1870 during war against Prussia and at the beginning of World War I). The French capital was soon moved again to Vichy.
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 which was also a major base for German U-boats as headquarters of 12th U-boat Flotilla. The massive, reinforced concrete U-boat pens have proved impractical to demolish and are now partly used as a cultural centre for exhibitions.
Bordeaux is located close to the European Atlantic coast, in the southwest of France and in the north of the Aquitaine region. It is around 500 km (310 mi) southwest of Paris. The city is built on a bend of the river Garonne, 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 River 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 its climate from being classified as Mediterranean.
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 to 22 °C (70 to 72 °F). The average seasonal winter temperature is 6.53 °C (43.75 °F), but recent winters have been warmer than this. The average summer seasonal temperature is 19.51 °C (67.12 °F), but every summer in the decade beginning 2001 has exceeded this average. The summer of 2003 set a record with an average temperature of 23.3 °C (73.9 °F).
Bordeaux has about 116,160 hectares (287,000 acres) of vineyards, 57 appellations, 10,000 wine-producing châteaux and 13,000 grape growers. With an annual production of approximately 960 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:
- Château Lafite-Rothschild
- Château Margaux
- Château Latour
- Château Haut-Brion
- Château Mouton-Rothschild*
Both red and white wines are made in Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux is called claret in the United Kingdom. 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 a wine glut (wine lake) in the generic production, the price squeeze induced by an 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. In the meanwhile however, the global demand for the first growths and the most famous labels markedly increased and their prices skyrocketed.
The Laser Mégajoule will be one of the most powerful lasers in the world, allowing fundamental research and the development of the laser and plasma 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, promotes regional investment in optical and laser related industries leading to the Bordeaux area having the most important concentration of optical and laser expertise 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.
Access to the port from the Atlantic ocean is via the Gironde estuary. Almost 9 million tons of goods arrive and leave each year.
This list includes both companies based in Bordeaux and outside companies with major operations in the city.
- EADS composites
- EADS Sogerma
- EADS Space Transportation
- Marie Brizard
- McKesson Corporation
- Sanofi Aventis
- Thales Group
- William Pitters
The university was created by the archbishop Pey Berland in 1441 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.
- École nationale supérieure d'arts et métiers
- École d'ingénieurs en modélisation mathématique et mécanique
- École nationale supérieure d'électronique, informatique, radiocommunications de Bordeaux
- École supérieure de technologie des biomolécules de Bordeaux
- École nationale d'ingénieurs des travaux agricoles de Bordeaux
- École nationale supérieure de chimie et physique de Bordeaux
- Institut des sciences et techniques des aliments de Bordeaux
- Institut de cognitique
- École supérieure d'informatique
- École privée des sciences informatiques
- IUT Techniques de Commercialisation of Bordeaux (Business School)
- Bordeaux école de management (Bordeaux Management School)
- EBP International
- Institut des hautes études économiques et commerciales (INSEEC)
- École de commerce européenne
- Institut d'études politiques de Bordeaux (Institute of political sciences)
- École nationale de la magistrature (National school for Magistrate)
- École du service de santé des armées
- École d'architecture et de paysage de Bordeaux
- École des beaux-arts de Bordeaux
- École française des attachés de presse et des professionels de la communication (EFAP)
- Conservatoire national des arts et métiers d'Aquitaine (CNAM)
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 Nancy, 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 Nicolas-François Dupré de Saint-Maur then the Marquis (Marquess) de Tourny.
Main sights include:
- Esplanade des Quinconces, one of the largest squares in France.
- Colonnes des Girondins
- Grand Théâtre, a large neoclassical theater built in the 18th century.
- Allées de Tourny
- Cours de l'Intendance
- Place du Chapelet
- Pont de pierre
- Saint-André Cathedral, 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 13th 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-Croix (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 Michael, 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 11th 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, a gate of the old city walls.
- 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 7,800 kilograms (17,000 lb). 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 longest and busiest street in the old town of Bordeaux.
- The Betasom submarine base
- 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 Bastide, 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 galleries in France
- Musée d'Aquitaine
- Musée du Vin et du Négoce
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs
- Musée d'Histoire Naturelle
- Musée National des Doines
- Musée Goupil
- Casa de Goya
- Cap Sciences
- Centre Jean Moulin
- Jardin botanique de Bordeaux
- Jardin botanique de la Bastide
- La Maison des Chameaux (Camel Park)
Bordeaux has many shopping options. In the heart of Bordeaux is Rue Sainte-Catherine. This pedestrian only shopping street has 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) of shops, restaurants and cafés; it is also one of the longest shopping streets 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 Bordeaux. There are many music venues of varying capacity. The city also offers several festivals throughout the year.
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 45 km (28 mi) 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 Garonne, 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 pierre (both located downtown), the Pont d'Aquitaine, 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 railway bridge, completed in 2008(??).
The main railway station, Gare de Bordeaux Saint-Jean, 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 Paris in three hours, with connections to major European centres such as Lille, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Geneva and London. The TGV also serves Toulouse and Irun from Bordeaux. A regular train service is provided to Nantes, Nice, Marseille and Lyon. The Gare Saint-Jean is the major hub for regional trains (TER) operated by the SNCF to Arcachon, Limoges, Agen, Périgueux, Pau and Bayonne.
Historically the train line used to terminate at a station on the right bank of the river Garonne near the Pont de Pierre, and passengers crossed the bridge to get into the city. Subsequently a single track steel railway bridge was constructed in the 1850s, by Gustave Eiffel, to bring trains across the river direct into Gare de Bordeaux Saint-Jean. The old station was later converted and in 2010 comprised a cinema and restaurants.
The single track Eiffel bridge became a bottleneck and a new bridge was built, opening in 2008(??). During the planning there was much lobbying by the Eiffel family and other supporters to preserve the old bridge as a footbridge across the Garonne, with possibly a museum to document the history of the bridge and Gustav Eiffel's contribution. The decision was taken to save the bridge, but by early 2010 no plans had been announced as to its future use. The bridge remains intact, but unused and without any means of access.
Bordeaux is served by an international airport, Aéroport de Bordeaux Mérignac, located 8 km (5.0 mi) from the city centre in the suburban city of Mérignac.
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 Keolis 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)
- 13 night bus routes (from 1 to 16)
- An electric bus shuttle in the city centre
- A boat shuttle on the Garonne river
There had been several plans for a subway network to be set up, but they stalled for both geological and financial reasons. Work on the Tramway de Bordeaux system was started in the autumn of 2000, and services started in December 2003 connecting Bordeaux with its suburban areas. The tram system uses ground-level power supply technology (APS), a new cable-free technology developed by French company Alstom and designed to preserve the aesthetic environment by eliminating overhead cables in the historic city. Conventional overhead cables are used outside the city. The system was controversial for its considerable cost of installation, maintenance and also for the numerous initial technical problems that paralysed the network. Many streets and squares along the tramway route became pedestrian areas, with limited access for cars.
There are more than 400 taxicabs in Bordeaux.