Bordeaux is a place where modern and antique sit side by side.

This is the wine capital of the world, and Bordeaux has a charming atmosphere from its gracious historic buildings, and peaceful streets that run down to the riverbank. This lovely city is on a bend of the Garonne River in south-west France and has a touch of Paris chic but without the Paris prices. A visitor can find many fun activities.

Architectural Wonder

Bordeaux has exceptional architectural unity, and Unesco named the entire old section a World Heritage Site. In addition, three churches along the road to Santiago de Compostela are listed as Unesco sites. Nighttime is the best time to see them when the lights are lit.

Wine Tasting

The local tourist office will give directions to the daily vineyard tours. Generally, the tours start in the afternoon, and most vineyards pour generous samples of all types of wines from Sauternes to Graves and Pomeral.

The Cellar’s Market

Millesima contains massive storage rooms, akin to a Fort Knox for wine, in old Bordeaux. These rooms store well over 2.5 million bottles of wine, and most are collectible. Visitors can purchase wine and continue to store it there in optimum conditions for decades if desired. With a few days notice, the Millesima will ship the wine out to the owner.

Enjoy the Cuisine

Dining al fresco in the old square is one of the joys of Bordeaux. The Café Francais in Place Pay-Berland will have a line, but most tourists find the wait is worth the experience. Visitors have a full view of a building that dates back to English rule that ended in 1453, the Saint Andre cathedral. The salads pair nicely with the house wines, rose or red.

A Stunning View

The Grand Theatre Bordeaux has the best view in one of France’s greatest venues. The Radisson Grand Hotel has been beautifully refurbished, and it sits on the other side of the Place de le Comedie.

The theatre features 12 lavish columns with statues of the Muses and goddesses topping them. The hotel is an elegant example of 18th and 19th century architecture, and it is close to the Golden Triangle, the best shopping district of the city that includes Rue St. Catherine, the longest pedestrian only street in France. The Majestic Hotel is just around the corner and offers a comfortable, more modest option.

Travel on a Glamorous Tram

Bordeaux has a new tram system that provides a wonderful way to tour the old city. A day ticket gives the rider unlimited travel until after midnight. In the summer, the routes extend out to the river. Bordeaux constructed the tram as part of its urban renewal program, which includes restoration of the facades of the historic old structures and lighting them up at night.

The tram trip along the river includes opportunities to see open-air dancing and children playing in the new Mirror Fountain. In addition, Tram B will take visitors along the square in front of the old opera house.

+DJL Lalique is the forum of David Weinstein, lover of fine wines, travel and the artwork of Rene Lalique.  He blogs about Lalique’s art on his website.