Topping the polls, Bordeaux makes for a perfect city break destination in 2015.
You may remember that I recently blogged that voting was underway in the race for 20 shortlisted cities to be crowned with the coveted title of European Best Destination 2015. Well the votes have been counted and the illustrious honour has been awarded to the beautiful and historic city of Bordeaux.
Coming out on top of a prestigious list of nominees including the city break stalwarts of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Reykjavik, Rome and Vienna, Bordeaux reigns supreme for 2015 as European Best Destination, winning over 17% of the 244,696 people who registered their vote. And what’s particularly interesting amongst the voting this year is that those destinations attaining a top 10 position – namely Bordeaux, Lisbon, Athens, Valletta, Riga, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Innsbruck, Milan and Brussels – it’s the less-renowned but equally gorgeous city break destinations that have demonstrated their touristic appeal.
This is what European Best Destinations had to say about this year’s winning city…
“Bordeaux has always been a dynamic, cosmopolitan city and never ceases to reveal exciting, new facets of its character. The city of Bordeaux’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and its bold modernism have made it a key destination for everyone interested in French culture, lifestyle… and wine!
Centre of a legendary winegrowing region, this vibrant and sophisticated city is a top gourmet and culture destination. Synonymous with fine wines, Bordeaux is one of France’s most elegant cities.
Bordeaux’s setting on the River Garonne has made it an important port for centuries. Bordeaux is the ideal base for exploring wine châteaux of Médoc, St Emilion and Bordeaux, fringed by the largest pine forest in Europe, just 45 minutes from Arcachon Bay (famous for its delicious seafood and oysters!) and superb beaches. The Basque Country and Spain are only 2 hours away and in 3 hours you can be on the Pyrenean ski slopes.”
Of course, many see Bordeaux as a gateway to the vineyards and indeed whilst the picturesque wine regions of Saint-Émilion, Margaux, Pauillac and the Medoc offer excellent excursion and tasting potential, the city itself makes for a perfect short break opportunity and definitely worth taking the time to explore.
Indeed, described by the French novelist Stendhal as “the most beautiful town in France”, Bordeaux is renowned for its neoclassical architecture and wide avenues, giving it an air of Parisian-style grandeur and sophistication. City of Art and History and the world’s largest urban World Heritage Site as designated by UNESCO, Bordeaux boasts more than 350 structures listed as Historic Monuments and classified buildings. Take the Cathédrale St-André, for example, once a stop-off point on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and the venue for the marriage of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1137. Climb to the top of the 231 steps of the bell tower and you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views all over the city.
Once known as La Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty), thanks to two decades of regeneration, Bordeaux is now a glamorous and modern city, described no less as “the very essence of elegance” by none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Today, the historic centre stretches from the outer city boulevards to the banks of the Garonne River and retains much of its 18th-century, neoclassical architectural splendour, its spectacular buildings resplendent in golden stone.
Shaping Bordeaux’s famous Golden Triangle are the Allées des Tourny, the Cours Clémenceau and the Cours de l’Intendence, a fabulous, bustling area home to trendy artisan stores, wine cellars and luxury boutiques. At the centre of the Golden Triangle stands the Place des Grands-Hommes with its impressive ironwork market hall, whilst its three corners are marked by the Place de la Comédie, the Place de Tourny and the Place Gambetta, affectionately known as ‘Little Paris’.
And mere metres from the mighty Palais de la Bourse on Bordeaux’s riverfront is one of Bordeaux’s most photographed sites, the Esplanade des Quinconces, which alongside the Cathédrale St-André represents the heart of Vieux Bordeaux. Reputedly Europe’s largest square, it is here you’ll find the magnificent bronze fountains of the Monument aux Girondins, paying homage to the National Assembly deputies who were executed in 1793 for alleged counter-revolutionary activities.
Rich in history and architectural splendour, wining, dining and retail opportunity, with direct flights from all over the UK, Bordeaux ticks all the boxes for the quintessential city break destination.