A memorable vintage christened Bordeaux
Nestling between the Atlantic ocean and the spreading vineyards, France's sixth city counts not only on its wines for its appeal.
It is one of the world's best-known cities. If Bordeaux enjoys such a reputation, it owes it in large part to her status as the world capital of wine. For almost two thousand years the Bordeaux vineyards - more than 120,000 hectares, the largest in the world for fine wines - have contributed to the development and prosperity of the city. Thanks to this inestimable wealth and its position on the Atlantic, Bordeaux, named Burdigala at its foundation in the 3rd Century BC, was France's leading port by the 18th century and one of Europe's great trading centres.
Architecture and high technology
Nothing surprising then to find that several of French arts greatest figures enjoyed Bordeaux' pleasing lifestyle. A quick glance through the city history finds the philosopher Montaigne, established in the 16th Century, sitting as mayor for four years. Montesquieu took up residence two centuries later and more recently we find the writer Francois Mauriac.
From this aupicious past, the city has conserved a considerable architectural heritage. Three historic edifices have been classed world heritage sites by UNESCO: Saint-André's cathedral, Saint-Seurin's basilica and Saint-Michel's basilica. And yet Bordeaux does not stand locked in time. A European pole of high technology in aeronautics, space and optics, the capital of Aquitaine is an economic crossroads. A university city with 70,000 students, it can count on a population a third of which is aged under 25.
2007, a vintage worth sampling
All the conditions are there to make it one of France's 10 most-visited cities. The arrival of the 2007 Rugby World Cup should contribute to that aim. Wine enthusiasts will drool over the Petrus, Mouton Rothschild, Cheval Blanc and other joys of the region's most prestigious nectars, or delight in the Saint-Emilion, Chateau Margaux and Pomerols.
Irish fans, whose team plays two matches at Stade Chaban-Delmas, will recognise several vintages with a Celtic consonance (Chateau Lynch-Bages, being the best-known). And no wonder: a score of Bordeaux chateaux count proprietors of past or present Irish stock.
150,000 jobs in Bordeaux, 324,500 in the Gironde
6 technology poles, 4 universities, 70,000 students, 5,000 researchers