Main tourist attractions in Bordeaux (Part I)
Truth be told, Bordeaux is one of those cities that take your breath away. It just happens from the moment you set your foot in it. And I mean that quite literally by the way. You will probably say I am biased. I will admit that – no shame. But it is also something I have noticed happen time and time again with people seeing Bordeaux for the first time. It is impossible to stay impartial to this town’s beauty. But even though, here you can find something to see behind every corner – let me make it easier for you. Today I want to share my comprehensive Guide To The Main tourist attractions in Bordeaux you must see. And get ready. This is a long one, my petit four.
Given the romantic nickname – The Sleeping beauty, Bordeaux is riddled with amazing architectural marvels, historical monuments, and other artistic delights. Now, I do plan to tell you all about its little secrets and must see tourist attractions in Bordeaux you have to check out. I want to begin with the classics because – let’s face it, they are a ‘must’ for a reason.
There are many ways you can go about visiting Bordeaux (bus, tram, bike), but I would definitely vote for walking. Depending on where you are coming from I would recommend you start your trip at Place des Quinconces. This is a huge area in the heart of the city and you can reach it with either Tram B or Tram C and buses number: 2, 3, 5, 15.
1. Place des Quinconces & Monument aux Girondins – 2792 Place des Quinconces, 33000 Bordeaux
This square is considered to be the largest in Europe. So it is not a surprise it is the first stop on my main tourist attractions in Bordeaux list. The name of the place comes from the sequence –quincunxes. This was the pattern in which the trees surrounding it were originally planted in. There is something particularly captivating in the geometrical flow of the trees and the shape of the square. They compliment each other, creating an incredible space for walks and other fun activities. Situated in the heart of Bordeaux, and only 5 minutes away from the Garonne river, this quad is always full of people.
Among the many reasons for its popularity- the public transportation office (where you can buy tickets, cards and get information about the public transportation system). It is also a place where two of the three (for now, they are building a fourth) Train lines cross. Furthermore, it is often a place where open-air festivals take place. During the winter there you can find a circus.
The Monument aux Girondins
On the left side of the square (if you are facing the river) you will see two beautiful, rostral columns, each 21-meter high. They face the Garonne river, representing respectively trade and navigation. Historically, those are two very important parts of Bordeaux’s history. The columns were erected by Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau in 1829. On the other side of the square is one of the most beautiful pieces of art that I have ever seen.
The Monument aux Girondins is not something you can miss. The reason behind its creation is little dark, but the beauty this fountain has is making it one of the jewels of Bordeaux for sure.
The monument is erected in order to pay homage to the Girondins. They were a political group that operated during the French Revolution. Unfortunately, they fell victims to a period in history known as the Reign of Terror. During that time many of the Girondins lost their life to their political rivals. Created between 1894 and 1902, this stunning monument is astonishingly detailed and riddled with symbolism.
No doubt it would take you a lot of time to get acquainted with each part and learn the idea behind it (because yes, they all mean something). At the top of it is a bronze statue with a winged woman – a symbol of liberty. At some point during the Second World War the horses were removed from the statue, probably in order for the material to be reused, but fortunately, they were later re-erected.
Le Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
2. Le Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux – Place de la Comédie, 33000 Bordeaux
Next, on the list – Le Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux or as the locals refer to it – simply Grand Theater. Just a short walk away from Place des Quinconces, you would find yourself in front of this impressive building in a neoclassical style. It was a creation credited to Victor Loius and was conceived with the idea to be a symbol of arts and light. Something that describes the building perfectly. The theater looks like something that could have effortlessly come from the pages of a magical fairy-tale.
Rich, decadent, beautifully detailed – all words that come to mind while looking at the 12 columns and the statues on top of the building. The sculptures represent nine of the muses and three goddesses – Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Don’t miss the chance to enter the opera and enjoy the stunning interior with a guide, which I highly recommend. You will learn the theatre’s history and if you are lucky- take a sneaky look at the room with all the costumes. It costs 6 euro.
3. Place du Parlement – 9 Place du Parlement, 33000 Bordeaux
This square, that is part of the famous Saint- Pierre districts is yet another beautiful representation of Bordeaux. Hidden between the building you will find it after a 5-minute walk from the Grand Theater. Formally known as Marché Royal this square was created in 1760. If you fancy playing a little game you can challenge yourself in finding the old name of the square still visible on some of the walls of the nearby buildings.
You should also take a minute to admire their rich decorations as some of the details on the facades surrounding the square are breath-taking. There is nothing more pleasant than taking a moment to relax, sitting on the fountain in the center of the square after a long walk.
Place de la Bourse
4. Place de la Bourse – Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux
Next on the main tourist attractions in Bordeaux list. I am sure you know those moments in the movies, the ones when our heroine/hero travels a long way in order to see something spectacular? Something like a view that will forever stay with her/him. I want to prepare you that walking onto Place de la Bourse from Place de Parlament will be exactly that moment for you.
So, get those cameras ready, mon petite four – because there is a VIEW here. A stunning picture of the Garrone river, Miroir d’eau and the breathtaking square you are standing on are definitely one for the books. I love this spot because to me it is an epitome of Bordeaux’s facade and image.
Place de la Bourse (originally named Place Royale) was the work of the royal architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel and his father. This square was created when Claude Boucher wanted to make Bordeaux a more welcoming view for the boats coming from the right site of Garonne. He wanted to modernize the city so parts of the walls around Bordeaux were removed and the square was erected.
Originally there was a statue of King Louis XV, that was later taken down during the revolution, melted and used to make cannons. It was replaced first with a tree of freedom and in 1869 the current statue – a masterpiece designed by Louis Visconti, sculpted by Charles Gumery. It is called “The fountain of the Three Graces” and it represents the three daughters of the god Zeus and Euronyme: – Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thaleia.
5. Le miroir d’eau de Bordeaux – Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux
Miroir d’eau – another favotite of mine, just opposite Place de la Bourse. It is a perfect place to stop and really take in your surroundings. Usually, it is full of people, laughing and enjoying their life. You can take a seat on the stairs, look around, explore, observe. You can actually see Garonne, Pont de Pierre bridge and the full glory of place de la Bourse. There are those special moments when all the buildings around it reflect on the thin layer of water making everything look magical.
There is no surprise that the locals call it “Port de la Lune” (port of the moon) as you can see the night sky imprinted on the reflective surface as well. Created by the landscape architect Michel Corajoud, the architect Pierre Gangnet and the water technician Jean-Max Llorca, this marvel is 130 meters long and 42 meters wide. What is interesting is how it changes from only a 2- centimeter pool of water to a 2-meter-high wall of mist.
Unfortunately, during the winter, it is not operating because of obvious reasons, but during the summer it is so refreshing and you will definitely enjoy a little splash around it even if you are not a child anymore. We all do, so don’t be shy!
Here we go, guys. The first part of my Comprehensive Guide to the Main tourist attractions in Bordeaux! Hope it is helpful!
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