Bordeaux is the capital of one of France’s most famous wine-producing regions. At the confluence of the River Garonne and the Gironde estuary, this Unesco World Heritage Site is home to 5,000 deliciously elegant 18th-century buildings.
Fabled wine brands among the region’s 7,500 châteaux, including Petrus and Margaux, have brought class and wealth, loading Bordeaux with appealing history and traditions, but don’t be fooled: this is a city offering the best of modern life.
There’s great shopping and lovely cafés mixed in with meandering riverside walkways. An eco-friendly tram system criss-crosses the city centre. On warm summer evenings children joyfully play in the cooling Miroir d’Eau (water mirror) beside the Place de la Bourse, while strolling couples watch the world go by.
Contemporary architectural additions to centuries-old châteaux are open to the public and well worth a visit. Start at Château La Dominique close to Saint-Émilion, where you can dine in architect Jean Nouvel’s concave metal-covered winery before heading to a tasting session in the gleaming vat room.
Golden Triangle homes
“There has been a huge amount of money spent on Bordeaux in recent years,” says Francois-Xavier de Vial of Home Hunts. “It has always been architecturally beautiful, but the centre and riverside have been completely transformed. Everywhere is immaculately kept and it has improved the popularity of the city tremendously.”
Bordeaux was voted Europe’s best city to visit this year by online portal Best European Destinations. By 2017, when improvements to the high-speed train line will shave one hour off the current three-hour journey between Paris and Bordeaux, the city should gain even more fans.
Two of the most popular residential areas in the city are Chartrons and the “Golden Triangle”, which is bounded by three fine boulevards (Cours Clemenceau, Cours de l’Intendance and Allées de Tourny). Chartrons offers townhouses and warehouses restored into wonderful loft apartments. A fully renovated six-bedroom house, currently operating as a B&B, is available for £706,700 through Home Hunts, and a three-bedroom apartment with small garden and plunge pool is £326,600 with Grisel Immobilier.
The Golden Triangle in the heart of the city offers flats in historical houses. Home Hunts has a four-bedroom, third-floor apartment with high ceilings, marble fireplaces and a reception room for £873,000.
Leggett has an appealing selection of one- to three-bedroom apartments, both refurbished and new, close to the quayside, priced from £193,000 for 970sq ft.
Home Hunts: www.home-hunts.com
Grisel Immobilier: www.grisel-immobilier.fr