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A view of the buildings in Port Bordeaux France

Bordeaux, France

Situated on the Garonne River in the southwest of France, Bordeaux is above all famous for one thing: wine. Its full-bodied reds (and to a lesser degree its whites, rosés and sparkling wines) have made this a flourishing port since ancient times when it was the capital of the Roman province of Aquitania. 

But there's much more to see than wine cellars and vineyards. Explore the quays of the Port de la Lune and the crescent-shaped area along the Garonne’s Rive Gauche, resplendent with neoclassical buildings, elegant fountains and grand squares. As you wander the streets here, step into the landscaped green spaces or fine art institutions that give Paris a run for its money. The restaurants here are among the country's best (naturally, to pair with the region’s wines, from the three-euro refreshers to the premier grand crus), and include old-school brasseries and sleek on-the-cutting-edge newcomers.

Outside the city of Bordeaux, there are plenty of easy day trips: Medieval villages, prehistoric caves and sprawling vineyards, whose restaurants and alfresco tasting rooms are top destinations for culture seekers and wine lovers alike.