We have arrived in Bordeaux, the world’s major wine industry capital. This first week we thought we would concentrate on the many outstanding churches in Bordeaux.
Next week……the Bordeaux Wine Festival!
Bordeaux is located on the Garonne River in southwestern France and it has a history of growing grapes and making wine that dates back to the Romans. Walking the city on our first day it was apparent that prices in general were higher than we found in Valencia, Spain. We have seen many expensive cars on the road and food in the markets, shops and especially restaurants, cost more here; including our morning coffee.
The architecture of almost every building is strikingly different for two countries that grew up next to each other. We thought we may have seen enough churches, but walking into our first church here was an amazing experience. Towering ceilings and massive columns and windows fitted with beautiful stained glass. In contrast to the cathedrals of Valencia, which are beautifully decorated and adorned, the cathedrals of Bordeaux are astonishing in their natural and raw beauty. It was in these cathedrals that we felt we had stepped back in time.
Another difference is that Bordeaux feels cleaner. There is no graffiti in the main city center and surrounds. If you get out a ways you can find graffiti but not anywhere near the amount we saw in Valencia. And while Valencia does a terrific job of cleaning up the trash of the city each evening, in Bordeaux there seems to be less to clean up.
One thing both cities do have in common is the building and renovation that is going on everywhere; a testament to the rising economy of Europe. A striking new addition to Bordeaux’s skyline is the contemporary new museum aptly named La Cité du Vin, ranked 7th best museum in the world by National Geographic.
Which brings us to the next dramatic difference. In Bordeaux there are wine stores everywhere and not just small wine stores; many have hundreds of bottles of wine for sale. Every corner grocery store, fromagerie and butcher shop have small to medium selections of Bordeaux’s finest and every proprietor or clerk is an expert in wine, providing us with excellent suggestions. It is obvious that Bordeaux’s economy is centered around wine and we think that is something to be celebrated.
Each June a world renowned wine festival is celebrated in Bordeaux. An event that takes over the whole waterfront for five days and includes 30 or more tall ships sailing in to the harbor. It is a time of remembering the old days when Bordeaux’s port was full of traders and ships sending wine throughout the world. There was no doubt that we wanted to be here in Bordeaux to participate in this festival.
However, one cannot live on wine alone so we began to explore what else this interesting city offers and we found some spectacular churches.
As we travel, we are learning that UNESCO World Heritage sites are definitely worth a visit. Many of the Cathedrals listed below have been classified as UNESCO sites, others are listed as important and protected historical sites within France.
The sensational Cathedral of Saint Andrew, commonly referred to as the Bordeaux Cathedral, is the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux.
The Basilica of Saint-Michel, another breathtaking Gothic cathedral, was built between the end of 14th century and the 16th century.
Saint Eloi Church is a smaller Gothic church built in 1245 that comes with an interesting history. This church shares a wall with the Grosse Cloche.
The recently restored Basilica of Saint Seurin is one of the oldest churches in Bordeaux. It was built in the 11th century on an ancient burial ground.
The Church of Saint Peter was built in the 17th century on the site of the old Gallo-Roman sea port.
The church Saint-Louis of Chartrons is a ‘newer’ church, only completed in 1878 although it claims a history as far back as 1383.
When you reside in Bordeaux you are called Bordelais. We were told the Bordelais say ‘chin’ instead of cheers. So….
Chin or santé from these Bordelais
Ted & Julia