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Although Bordeaux is not in the Lot-et-Garonne (it's in our neighbouring département to the west, the Gironde), it is the legal and administrative centre of our region, Aquitaine. Aquitaine is of course historically famous as being an English possession for the three hundred years between 1154 and 1453, following the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to King Henry II.

Bordeaux is a beautiful city; indeed Victor Hugo found the city so beautiful he once said: "take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux". Not for nothing has Bordeaux the only city centre in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When Emperor Napoleon III wanted to transform a then still quasi-medieval Paris into a "modern" capital that would make France proud, he requested that Bordeaux's wonderful buildings be used as a model. The architecture of Paris is therefore based on the architecture of Bordeaux, not the other way round, as is commonly believed.


Children playing in the spray of the Miroir d'Eau


Situated astride the mouth of the Garonne river, Bordeaux was once a thriving commercial port with deep water access to the Atlantic ocean*.  Recently, however, the old quays been comprehensively refurbished and now include the fabulous 'Miroir d'Eau' ('water-mirror' in English).

When static the Miroir d'Eau reflects all and everyone around it. Then, every twenty minutes, a myriad hidden jets emit a fine spray from the feature and hundreds of people walk barefoot through the cool mist, just because it's such fun - like walking in the clouds!

The two photos above show the Miroir d'Eau both in its mirror state and in its spray state.

And, for those who like to do a bit of shopping, the fabulous rue Sainte-Catherine is a must. La rue Sainte-Catherine is the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe. Stretching 1.25 kms from la Place de la Victoire at one end to la Place de la Comédie at the other, la rue Sainte-Catherine has more than two hundred and fifty shops! Incidentally, it isn't always this hectic, the photo on the left was taken at the peak of the busy August holiday season!

Despite its ancient history and stunning 18th century architecture, Bordeaux is not stuck in the past. In fact it's a perfect advertisement for the modern France - a fast-growing, lively city, and a popular choice for many young French people who go there to study at one of its leading cultural and higher-educational establishments. In addition to its highly respected university, Bordeaux is a recognised centre for medical, veterinary, architectural  and musical study in France. Bordeaux is also one of the two major French fashion centres. Here you'll see French 'chic' to rival Paris!



website design by Peter Evans - gites in southwest france

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