Being located on a line dividing northern and southern France, climatically Bordeaux is a bit of a crossover point. The city also exudes a sort of composure or elegance, arising from its previous English domination. Bordeaux is clearly a professional town with regular trade around the world, particularly the ports of Holland. The architecture itself highlights this with its regular classical style and numerous castles made of a typical white stone.
But that’s not all there is to Bordeaux… beneath the sophisticated surface of professionalism lies a heart which beats to a rhythm altogether different… a Latin tempo. Doubtless this is due to its close proximity to Spain. And in this lies the other side of Bordeaux one given over to festivals and all manner of frivolity. You’ve been warned!
The climate of Bordeaux is considered to be Oceanic, that is to say with no great difference between summer and winter temperatures. Here the summers are hot and the winters relatively mild, even warm. However the region does get its fair share of rain spread throughout the year, due to it being on the Atlantic coast. However, extreme periods of dryness can also be a problem from time to time. In Bordeaux, only one thing is certain, and that’s the wine!
The majority of the city of Bordeaux is located on the left bank of the Garonne, an area of wide and marshy expanses. There are a few hills, but they aren’t high, and they are ideal for wine growing. It is here that you will discover the famous Medoc and Grave wine varieties.
The other side of the Garonne, the right bank, is entirely different, and it is made up almost entirely of chalk. And it’s here that most of the world famous vineyards are located vineyards such as Pomerol, Fronsac and Saint Emilion famous around the world, not least for their expense.
Without a shadow of doubt, Bordeaux is the world wine capital. In this region, a single wine grower, or viticulteur, will produce several different wines, with several of these being amongst the most renowned in the world. These are identified specifically as “Vins de Bordeaux”. Indeed around the Bordeaux region itself there are no fewer than 14000 local wine producers, some quite small. But collectively, these vineyards account for about 700 million bottles annually. Bordeaux wines are both white and red, with the famous red giving its name to the color known as Bordeaux, after the distinctive color of the wine.
And what about the cuisine of Bordeaux? In fact Bordeaux cuisine, indeed the cuisine throughout the whole of the Gironde, is considered to be one of the finest in France, a veritable way of life. Here the visitor will have his senses delighted by names of dishes such as “palombe” (wood pigeon, in English), “cepes de Bordeaux” (a variety of mushroom), “sauce aux echalotes” (a special shallot sauce), etc. Evidently, this will need to be accompanied by the classic Bordeaux wines.
And then of course there’s the famous “canele” cake, a Bordeaux speciality made of tender pastry, with a lacing of vanilla and rum, finally covered with a thick caramelised crust. In fact this Bordeaux delicacy was the recipe of some sixteenth century nuns who used to make them to give to the poor of the town. But don’t let that put you off… they are far from poor and most exotic… perfect when accompanied by a fine white wine, such as a Saint Emilion! But be careful, they are known to soften quickly after baking… don’t worry simply put back in the oven and in a few minutes time they’ll recover their famous crustyness!
Another unforgettable encounter in Bordeaux is with the “lamproie” (lamprey, in English), a very unusual fish. This fish possesses neither scales, nor jaws, nor bony backbone. You could compare it with a large eel. And don’t forget “la sauce d’escargots” (snail sauce), known jokingly as the “Bordeaux truffle”, which includes chocolate, grape and alcohol. Not to mention the famous Tome d’Aquitaine, a goat’s cheese refined with a Sauterne wine, and the delicious “foie gras”.