Goodbye Toulouse, Hello Bordeaux

I left the bricks of Toulouse behind this morning to embrace, once again, the limestone that makes French cities gleam in the sunshine. Hello beautiful Bordeaux!

In 1843, the poet and author, Victor Hugo, quite taken with Bordeaux’s beauty, said: “Take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux.”

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Porte Cailhau, one of the old city gates from the 15th century.

They don’t call this sprawling city on the Garonne “The Little Paris” for nothing. Bordeaux is composed of some of the best architecture the 18th century had to offer. About 5,000 buildings from this period still survive here.

Baron Haussmann, who was asked by Napoleon III to revamp Paris in the 18th century, got his inspiration from Bordeaux where he had been the prefect for a number of years.

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Quayside -- 18th century style.

While the 18th century may have been Bordeaux’s golden age, the city has been around for a couple millenia. It even once belonged to England during the Middle Ages when the Duchess Eléonore of Aquitaine married the French-speaking Count Henri Plantagenet, who became, shortly after their wedding, King Henry II of England.

The city flourished, primarily due to the wine trade with England, but in 1453, it was annexed by France and wine commerce with England halted. Wine-drinking Brits everywhere are grateful they live in the 21st century when the reds and whites flow abundantly out of Bordeaux.

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Girondins Monument built between 1894 and 1902.

Speaking of wine, I, myself, am looking forward to sampling the vino here in the wine country of the country of wine.

A votre santé!

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