Administrative centre of the département of Gironde and of the Aquitaine region, southwest France, situated on the River Garonne, 100 km/62 mi from the Atlantic; population (2005 est) 229,500. Bordeaux is accessible to seagoing ships and is a major port; it is a centre for the wine trade, oil refining, chemicals, and the aircraft and aeronautics industries. Other industries include shipbuilding, sugar refining, and the manufacture of electrical goods, motor vehicles, and processed foods. Bordeaux was under the English crown for three centuries until 1453. In 1870, 1914, and 1940 the French government was moved here because of German invasions.
History Founded by the Gauls, Bordeaux became capital of the region held by the Celtic tribe, the Bituriges Vivisci. It was later the provincial headquarters of the Roman garrison, who called it Burdigala. After invasions by the Vandals, Goths, and Franks, the English ruled Bordeaux from 1154 through the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II of England. The town prospered and became a major port for exporting wine to northern Europe. It was retrieved by the French in 1453.
There were uprisings in Bordeaux during the Fronde (a series of revolts against the administration of Mazarin between 1648 and 1653). In the 18th century Bordeaux was the main port of France's colonial empire, a trading centre for the export of wines and liqueurs, and involved in the thriving slave trade. It was also a centre of the Girondins, a moderate republican group during the French Revolution. Bordeaux has been the temporary seat of the French government during times of conflict. The National Assembly under Thiers met at Bordeaux from 12 February to 1 March 1871 during the Franco-Prussian War. It was also the seat of the French government from September to December 1914 during World War I, and from 15 to 30 June 1940 during World War II.
Features The town has many historic buildings, including the 12th–15th-century archiepiscopal cathedral of Saint-André with fine towers and an 18th-century theatre, Grand Théatre, built by Victor Louis in the 1770s, and the classically designed Place de la Bourse (1730–55); parts of the old town wall date from the Middle Ages. The playwright Jean Anouilh was born here in 1910.
Architecture The old, southern part of the town is characterized by narrow crooked streets and wooden 15th-century buildings. The newer, 18th-century part of the town, which developed when Bordeaux flourished on its trade with the French colonies, lies in the centre and to the north where the streets are wide, interspersed with large squares and baroque churches. One of the most impressive squares is the Place des Quinconces, which houses statues of Montaigne and Montesquieu.
There is a 15th-century bell tower, many old churches, museums, and libraries of historical interest that attract visitors, and a university founded (by the English) in 1441. Particularly popular with tourists is the 18th-century arched gate, the Porte de Bourgogne at the end of the Pont-de-Pierre. This bridge, which has 17 arches, was for a long time the only one over the River Garonne. The Pont d'Aquitaine suspension bridge, built on the edge of the city, now provides a road link to the nearby motorway.
Wines Notable wines produced in the vineyards of the surrounding Bordelais region include Barsac, Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves, Médoc, Pomerol, St-Emilion, and Sauternes.
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