18th century was the Age of Enlightenment which would find Bordeaux most receptive to its liberal ideas. Montesquieu, one of the fathers of the movement, was born a few kilometres south of Bordeaux. He became a counselor of the Parliament of Bordeaux in 1714. His writings on the separation of powers would become the baseline of modern democracies of the western world and the main source of inspiration for the founding fathers of the first American constitution.


The Bordelais would very soon rejoice with the Revolution of 1789. In 1790 the radical revolutionary political group of the Girondins is created in Bordeaux.

The Last Banquet of the Girondins https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Banquet_des_Girondins.jpg & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GirondinsMonument to the Girondins in Place des Quinconces Square in Bordeaux https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_des_Quinconces

Napoleon’s coup d’état in 1799 was well-received by the libertarian city which had grown weary of the anarchy that had reigned since the fall of Robespierre in 1794. The public had a change of hearts after the successive & costly Napoleonic Wars. Bordeaux was a city of merchants and trade suffered a lot from the continental blockade and the rivalry with England. Napoleon would however contribute to the beautification of the city with the Pont de pierre, the first bridge over the Garonne River, planned and designed during the First French Empire, the bridge would ease the development of the Right Bank (the Bastide district) and would for ever remind the great general’s days. In addition Napoleon would order the demolition of the Château Trompette which in 1818, would  be replaces by the Place des Quinconces.


The Restoration was for Bordeaux a period of commercial, literary and artistic renaissance; but its political role had ended with the end of the 18th century. The population that at the end of the Napoleonic period had been reduced from 104,000 to 92,000 would bounce back to 104,000 by the end of 1840. Entrepôt Lainé one of the last and finest examples of 19th century port architecture in Europe was constructed as a warehouse for products coming from the colonies (Today the center of contemporary visual arts). In 1858 the Jardin botanique de Bordeaux is established as ​​a didactic garden, a space both educational and recreational, managed by specialized scientists and open to the public.


In 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War the French government moves to Bordeaux from Paris, a relocation that would take place again during the First World War & briefly during the Second World War. During that period the population of the wider city would double to more than 250,000. After 1941 Bordeaux would be occupied by the German Nazis who in collaboration with the Italian Royal Navy constructed an underwater base in order to prevent a possible Allied landing. The port of the city became a major destination for goods that could support the German cause. In one of the most courageous and imaginative commando raids of WWII, a small English unit of twelve Royal Marines with six canoes boarded on a British submarine and reached the Gironde estuary seven days later with a purpose to attack the docked cargo ships in Bordeaux’s port with limpet mines. The commandos manged to cause severe damage to 5 of the docked ships with only two men surviving the heroic raid. Operation Frankton would be immortalized in a 1955 fictionalized movie version of the story The Cockleshell Heroes while in 2002  a walking path (The Frankton Trail) which traces the 100 miles (160 km) route taken through occupied France, on foot, by the two survivors was inaugurated.


On August 28, 1944, the jubilant population flooded the streets of Bordeaux celebrating the German departure after four long years of occupation, oppression, humiliations, restrictions and abuses. From 1947 to 1995 Jacques Chaban-Delmas a 31 year-old Resistance general was elected Mayor of the city, becoming one of the main architects of its redevelopment, with the University, the Hospital & two new bridges, the Saint-Jean & the Aquitaine bridge being some of his term most notable achievements.


In 1995, Alain Juppé took over the helm. The old town was renovated while the 18th century buildings and the banks of the Garonne River were restored. The construction of a tramway limited excessive traffic in the city and transformed the old town into a pedestrian area. In 2007 Bordeaux became the largest urban complex listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.


(With the help of franzvonhierf.com)

Bordeaux welcomes the new century on top of its new Cathedral tower, the Tour Pey-Berland, completed in the year 1500 after sixty years of constructions. 16th century was the age of renaissance and humanism with Bordeaux being one of the European flagships. In 1533 the College of Guienne takes its first steps with teachers called from Flanders and Paris steering the new ship according to the Renaissance humanism ideals. The college quickly becomes famous for the teaching of liberal arts. In 1585 one of its students & most influential writers & thinkers of the time, Michel de Montaigne becomes the city’s mayor. Montaigne had a notorious friendship with another famous intellectual who lived and worked in Bordeaux at the time, Étienne de La Boétie.


The age of enlightenment came at a cost as the Protestant ideas were becoming popular faster than the traditional status quo could handle, commencing the French Wars of Religion (1562-98). Bordeaux became one of the most troubled cities in France. In 1562 the Huguenots  fail to take the Château Trompette, and are beaten in Périgord by Blaise de Monluc. The Protestants were eliminated from Bordeaux, and a union league was set up in 1563 to maintain the Catholic religion. Charles IX tried to calm the spirits by issuing some edits of tolerance, but the Parliament refused to register it. On April 9, 1565 during his royal tour of France, between 1564 and 1566, he visits Bordeaux accompanied by the Court and the most important statesmen of the kingdom: his brother the Duke of Anjou, Henri de Navarre, the cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. The royal tour would try to ease things up and take back control of the kingdom that seemed to be overtaken by violence. It would not achieve its goal. Civil war would sweep every corner of the country. Ιn the backwash of St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (August 24, 1572) on October 3, 1572, more than two hundred and fifty Calvinists are massacred with the blessings of the Parliament that planned the operations after a series of inflammatory sermons by the Catholic priests of the city.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_de_Lasseran-Massenc%C3%B4me,_seigneur_de_Montluc#/media/File:Blaise-monluc.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_IX_of_France#/media/File:CharlesIX.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Wars_of_Religion & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Dubois

During his tenure as a mayor Montaigne did everything to keep the peace in the city, while the unrest was incessant between Catholics and Protestants. The Parliament was divided between ultras and moderate Catholics and the political situation was particularly delicate between the king of France, represented by his lieutenant general and the king of Navarre, governor of the province. After two years in office Montaigne was re-elected in 1583, a rare honor which had only been granted twice before him and this despite the violent opposition of the League. Six months before the end of his second term, the Black Death killed nearly 14,000 people.  On November 28, 1615, King Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, the eldest daughter of King Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria in the Saint-André cathedral in Bordeaux. The two spouses are barely fourteen years old at the time.


The middle of the century was marked by epidemics, food shortages, and the Thirty Years’ War, a religious and political conflict that engulfed Europe from 1618 to 1648. Bordeaux was preoccupied with the conflicts between the Parliament and the court that did not take much to turn into open riots like in 1635 over a royal tax on cabarets or in 1649 due to the opposition of the Parliament to the governor of Epernon, who refused to remove the troops that had been encamped around the city. During the series of civil wars known as the Fronde, that broke out in the midst of the Franco-Spanish War, the Princess of Condé took refuge with her son in Bordeaux in 1650 after the arrest of her husband. The Bordelais had sided with Condé and bloody battles took place to resist the royal troops, with the Bordelais obtaining an amnesty after the end of the battles. A peace was finally reached in 1653 allowing the young Louis XIV to make a solemn entry into the city. The military occupation of the city, the repression of the riots, the exile of the Parliament, the reduction of the privileges and the extension of the defenses of the castle Trompette put an end to these revolts.


Parliament was not reinstated until November 1654. On the occasion of his marriage in 1660 with Maria Theresa of Spain, Louis XIV passed through Bordeaux, gave the jurats letters of nobility and confirmed the privileges of the bourgeoisie. Aside from the enlargement of Château Trompette the king had also the Quay des Enfants-Trouvés in Chartrons built. These works led to the demolition of the Porte Saint-Germain and the Pillars of Guardianship. The measures taken by Colbert to develop trade contributed to the prosperity of Bordeaux, where the king established a tobacco warehouse, created a chamber of commerce and exempted goods exported to the colonies from all duties.


Right before the turn of the new century a marine school, a college of law and a college of medicine are founded in Bordeaux as a kind of a prelude to the coming era. 18th century would prove to be Bordeaux’s second golden age. The city’s harbor became one of the main stations of French commerce with the colonies, with cocoa, sugar, coffee & cotton sent from the West Indies via Bordeaux to the rest of Europe. Naval trade with the other side of the Atlantic in the 18th century exploded. It wasn’t just raw material and all sorts of goods that were shipped back and forth. Slave trade was on the rise too. Bordeaux along with Rouen, La Rochelle, Nantes were the only cities authorized by the king to trade slaves. The Bordelais started made fortunes by sending ships to Africa, where they bartered goods for people, who were then taken across the Atlantic to Caribbean colonies. There, they were sold and forced to labor on plantations, producing goods that were finally brought to Bordeaux’s port and sold in Europe. From 1672 to 1837, 180 shipowners in Bordeaux led 480 expeditions that transported as many as 150,000 Africans to France’s Caribbean colonies, making Bordeaux the most important French slave-trading port after Nantes. Towards the end of the century Bordeaux had become France’s main harbor & second only to London. People & money flocked around the bustling economic center increasing its population & wealth.


It was during the period of prosperity of Louis XV‘s reign that Louis-Urbain Aubert, Marquis de Tourny and steward of Guyenne from 1743 to 1758 , made Bordeaux one of the most beautiful cities in France in a few years. He knocked down the ramparts, filled in the ditches and traced a line of courtyards or boulevards around the city. This was how the Court of Aquitaine, the Squares of des Capucins, Saint-Julien and Dauphine and Place de la Bourse, were created, which were not completed until 1770 .


At Tourny’s request, the architect of Louis XV, Ange Jacques Gabriel, created the public garden, intended as a green space and a high place for walking which very quickly embraced by the people of Bordeaux. New fountains, schools, the quays were rebuilt and new ones like Bacalan quay were created. Palais Rohan (City Hall today) and Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux were erected.


Despite the political interplays between the French and English king, in the beginning of the 14th century the “English city” of Bordeaux would reach a population of around 30.000 people the largest since its origin as it was entering its first golden era marked by the construction of the third city-wall. The short French occupation caused a further expansion of the city by the addition of the suburbs where the main convents and monasteries were located within the limits of the expanded city. In 1305 the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Bertrand de Got, became Pope under the name of Clément V. With his immense power the new pope managed to restore all the privileges of the Bordelais and elevate the importance of the new Archbishop of Bordeaux even further. In 1321 Edward II, King of England since his father’s death in 1307, solemnly united the town of Bordeaux to the crown of England. His refusal to give homage for Gascony to the new (1322) French King Charles IV would lead to yet another war (the War of Saint-Sardos) between the two kingdoms in  1324, a prelude of the Hundred Years’ War that would start in 1327.


In 1355 the son of the English King, Prince Edward of Woodstock or The Black Prince started his campaign to conquer France from Bordeaux. A year later he won the French King who was captured & jailed in Bordeaux. From 1362 to 1372 Bordeaux was the capital of The Black Prince & its independent state which after a losing battle with the new French King, Charles V, was reduced to a narrow territory between Bordeaux & Bayonne.


The Hundred Years War was actually very beneficial for the Bordelais, because Edward III and his successors, were forced to rely on Bordeaux in their fight against the King of France, always seeking to ensure the loyalty of the city by making numerous concessions to its citizens. Thus the Bordelais remained loyal to the English crown with a single exception of a great riot caused by the arbitrary imposition of taxes by the Black Prince in 1365. The city remained faithful to the English crown even after Black Prince’s death in 1376 until 1453 when King Charles VII of France, won his last battle against the English in the Battle of Castillon which ended the English rule in Bordeaux, in essence leaving only Calais and the Channel Islands under the English rule.


After three centuries (marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine 1154) Bordeaux was English no more. After so much time this came as a shock for many of the city’s citizens who considered themselves English & not French. More than 2000 of them leave for England immediately. The lucrative for the city trade of wine with the English Isles came to a halt, afflicting its main source of wealth & increasing the popular discontent. The fear for the county’s allegiance to the crown, forces the French King to constructed two fortresses, Château Trompette (Trumpet Castle) and the Fort du Hâ, while he tries in the same time to make the transition seem easier by retaining some of the city’s privileges acquired during the English period.


In 1462 Louis XI inaugurates the Parliament of Bordeaux at the Palais de l’Ombrière, a palace that was being built little by little since the 11th century in order to work as the official residence of the Dukes of Aquitaine. Of course the parliament was not in reality an instrument of real power or independent governance, with the French Kings always having the last word & always being very cautious of the city’s affairs in the course of time. Nevertheless its jurisdiction extended over Bordeaux, Landes, Agenais, Périgord, Limousin and Saintonge. The University is re-established and is placed under the umbrella of Notre-Dame and foreign citizens are granted important benefits in order to move into the city. Despite the initial shock in Bordeaux’s trade relations, by the end of 15th century normality had been re-established & things started to look auspicious again. The city’s port quickly took on the helm of the French trade with English merchants.


Odo’s son Hunald I continued his father’s efforts for independence refusing to recognize the high authority of Charles Martel with the latter marching south of Loire again & seizing Bordeaux in 736. Eventually Hunald was allowed to keep Aquitaine after pledging loyalty to the Frankish overlord. Aquitaine’s compliance would only stand until Charles Martel’s death in 741 when Hunald declared war once more against the Franks. After 4 years of an uneven contest, Hunald would plead for peace in 745. He then appointed the Duchy to his son Waiofar ( the last independent Duke of Aquitaine) & retired in a monastery until his death. Waiofar struggled for some years until he finally succumbed to the Frankish superiority putting an end to the pursuit of national independence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunald_I#/media/File:Hunald.jpgDuchy of Vasconia and both sides of the Pyrenees (760) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duchy_of_Gasconyhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Charles_Martel#/media/File:Akitaniako_eta_Baskoniako_dukerriak_(710-740).svg

In the beginning of 778 Charlemagne, King of the Franks after the year 768, appointed his own counts in the major cities of the bordering lands of Vasconia along the banks of the river Garonne (Bordeaux, Toulouse, Fezensac), undermining that way the power of the dukes of Vasconia. Despite the political separatism the city of Bordeaux had adopted Christian rules & Frankish Bishops, with Basilicas, churches & monasteries organized accordingly. The city & its counts, which after 852 belonged in the line created by Ranulf I (Count of Poitiers from 835 and Duke of Aquitaine from 852) had to face several raids from Viking warriors who spread havoc in the wider area during the 9th century killing many of its citizens, including some of its counts.


The city of Bordeaux was shared between the Duchy of Aquitaine & the Duchy of Gascony until it became the exclusive property of the first in 1032 after Sancho VI William Duke of Gascony died without an heir. The House of Ramnulfids or Poitiers would firmly rule in Gascony & Aquitaine during the 11th century in what was defined as the Angevin Empire that stretched beyond the boundaries of France & was ruled as an independent & powerful medieval realm. The empire would stand until the Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor, sole heiress of the Ramnulfid dynasty married in Bordeaux in 1137 the heir to the French crown Louis VII.


After fifteen years of marriage & the birth of two daughters the marriage would be annulled in 1152. As soon as the annulment was granted, Eleanor became engaged to Henry Plantagenet , Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou, who even more importantly became King Henry II of England in 1154. Eleanor & Henry would have eight children, between them two kings, one of whom Richard the Lionheart.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_II_of_England#/media/File:Eleonora_Jindra2.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_of_Aquitaine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontevraud_Abbeyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I_of_England#/media/File:Gisant_Richard_C%C5%93ur_de_Lion3.JPG

In 1202, the army of the king of France, Philippe-Auguste invaded Normandy, Anjou, Saintonge. At the end of summer 1204, the French army was at the gates of Bordeaux, but did not cross the Garonne. In 1206, Alfonso VIII of Castile, who had married Eleanor of England, one of the daughters of Eleanor and Henry II, claimed Gascony. An expedition leads him to the gates of Bordeaux, where he devastates the suburb of Saint-Éloi outside the ramparts. He fails to enter the city. In April 1206, the city is endowed with municipal institutions, of which the jurats, its notables, freely choose a mayor. A seneschal or governor represents the king of England. In 1224,hostilities resume. The Bordelais resist and help the young Prince Richard of Cornwall, younger brother of the King of England, to reconquer Gascony. In general being among the possessions of the English crown would help Bordeaux flourish. Royal supervision was not restrictive & wine trade with England became big creating wealth. The town expanded & new walls were built by workers & artisans coming from all over the country. Important constructions works like that of the Cathedral of St André occupied hundreds and gradually gave the city a feel of a new era.


With all the good, new wealth would also bring some bad. The large families of traders competed for power and in 1249 the municipal elections gave rise to a clash in the Saint-Éloi district between the supporters of the Coloms and the Solers. Young Prince Edward I (Edward Longshanks) who had received Gascony as his fief from the age of fifteen, would side with the Soler family contrary to his father’s policy of mediation between the local factions. He would then use this instability as a pretext to modify municipal institutions. The mayor was henceforth appointed by the prince or his representative. In 1295 however Philippe le Bel of France managed to occupy the city. In order to win the hearts of the Bordelais, the King of France granted them a charter, the Philippine, which confirmed their customs and privileges, maintained the rights of justice of the Jurade and authorized the mayor to establish entry fees on wheat, wines and other goods. But following an insurrection, the French King revoked these privileges, abolished the Jurade and entrusted the municipal administration to the mayor appointed by him. The Treaty of Montreuil-sur-Mer, signed June 19, 1299 between France, represented by King Philip le Bel, and England, represented by King Edward I, ended the war between the two countries. Bordeaux was returned to Edward I.


In the year 660 Felix of Aquitaine, a Gallo-Roman patrician from Toulouse receives the title of Duke of both Vasconia & Aquitaine (region between Garonne & Loire Rivers). It seems that Frankish sovereignty over Aquitaine & Gascony was undisputed during the first years of Felix’s rule but weakened in the coming years as his successors became increasingly independent. Odo the Great ascended to the ducal throne sometime before the year 700 & declared himself independent in 715 during the civil war that raged in Francia. Between Neustria & Chilperic II on one hand & Austrasia & Charles Martel on the other, Odo allied himself with the first who in his turn offered him recognition of his kingship. In 718 Chilperic II lost the last decisive battle with Charles Martel & fled to Aquitaine. Odo gave up on Chilperic II, in exchange for the recognition of his dukedom and surrendered the fugitive king to the winner of the war. Soon after Odo had to fight the Muslim Umayyads who had already conquered Visigoth Hispania and tried to advance further north. On 721 at the Battle of Toulouse the Muslim forces experienced their first major and decisive defeat with thousands of casualties. The victory was celebrated by the Pope who declared the Aquitanian Duke “A champion of Christianity” who had every right for a full independence of his realm.

.http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Charles_Martelhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_MartelCharles de Steuben's Bataille de Poitiers en octobre 732 depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing 'Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Tours & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_de_Steuben

Charles Martel however was not willing to forget Odo’s misbehaving, so in 731 he crossed River Loire, breaking the peace treaty between them, he plundered Aquitaine & defeated Odo’s forces. After a year Muslim forces led by another Berber lord defeated Odo in a battle near Bordeaux & sacked the city.


After his defeat Odo re-organized his decimated forces & marched north to plea for help & warn the Franks for the impending threat. In exchange for the receiving help the Duke consented to the complete assimilation to the Frankish kingdom. The alliance led by Charles Martel triumphed over the Muslim army at the Battle of Tours also known as the Battle of Poitiers in 732. The matter of Muslim advance in Aquitaine and Frankia was decided to a great extent in that crucial battle.


The city starts taking precautionary measures building a 9-meter-high battlement that protects the harbor & limits the city within its walls. After the reforms devised by Diocletian (Emperor from 284 to 305) & implemented around 314 by Constantine I (Emperor from 306 to 337) Roman Burdigala becomes capital once again, this time in one of the seven smaller provinces of Gaul, Aquitania Secunda.

In 407 the Vandals came again, ravaging the region until they departed for the Iberian Peninsula in 409 AD. In their attempt to overcome their military might, the Romans called forth another Germanic tribe as foederati, giving them as a reward the right to settle in Aquitania around Toulouse. The Visigoths occupied the area of Bordeaux from 414 until 507, when they were defeated by King Clovis I (Battle of Vouillé), who incorporated Burdigala into the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks.


Frankish rule in their newly annexed territories of the south was feeble in the beginning as was for the Visigoths before them.


Aquitanians did not have much difficulty in resisting Frankish authority & although they didn’t establish themselves as a separate kingdom, their territory came to be distinguished as semi-autonomous, along with its neighboring Wasconia or Gascony, a region which was officially acknowledged as a duchy with Burdigala as its capital after 602 AD. The Duchy of Wasconia was partly established for the control of the Basques in Novempopulania or Aquitania III. The duchy extended initially on the lands south & around river Garonne, between Bordeaux & Toulouse.


Around 628 Aquitaine became the short-lived kingdom of Charibert II, son of Clotaire II King of the Franks & half-brother to Dagobert I who finally became the King of Franks & inherited the near-independent realm in 632 AD.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charibert_IITremissis or Charibert II, minted at Banassac, bearing his effigy and name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charibert_II & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tremissis


Around 28 BC Aquitania is further stretched to the north by Emperor Augustus with the Bituriges Vivisci being incorporated in the province. A year later the Emperor orders the restructuring of the provinces in Gaul & Marcus Agrippa splits Gallia in three regions. Burdigala becomes the capital of Gallia Aquitania.

Map of Roman Gaul with Gallia Aquitania in Pink Droysens Allgemeiner historischer Handatlas, 1886 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallia_AquitaniaWe clearly see the City of Burdigala on the northeast corner of the map of Roman Hispania around 125 AD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallia_Aquitania

It is then that the first ever written mention about vine in the region or more likely about the lack of it, is recorded, when Strabo reports to Augustus that there were no vines into the region known as Burdigala and that wine for this seaport was being supplied by the high country region of Gaillac in the Midi-Pyrénées region.

In olive-green the wine regions of Gaillac & Midi-Pyrénées https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_West_France_(wine_region)http://www.vins-gaillac.com/en/situation-et-climat

The terrain of the region combined with the immediate access of the city to the Atlantic (and thus the British Isles) through the navigable estuary of the Gironde, seemed ideal for vine plantation to the Romans who preferred hillside terrains in regions near rivers and important towns & were already selling Roman wine to Gallic tribes in very high prices (a single amphora could worth the value of a slave).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gironde_estuaryAerial view of the Gironde estuary in Aquitaine, France. The rivers Dordogne (right) and Garonne (left) join into the estuary. Photo: Chell Hill, 2010 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gironde_estuary

The first Bordeaux wines were probably produced by vines brought from Spain, in particular from the Rioja vineyards (the ancient Balisca grape of the Rioja is considered the ancestor of the Cabernet family), followed by some of the abundant Midi indigenous vines like Ondenc, Fer Servadou & Duras, that continue to produce excellent wines to this day.

Image from http://catavino.net/social-media-why-spanish-wineries-are-failing-and-why-portugal-might-be-heading-toward-the-light/ More on Rioja wine:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rioja_(wine)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ondenc#/media/File:Ondenc_-_Amp%C3%A9lographie.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duras_(grape)

Very soon wine from Burdigala sufficed not only for the Romans & the Celts living in Aquitania but was also exported initially to Britain & the Roman soldiers who were stationed there and then even Italy itself. Pliny the Elder mentions plantings in Bordeaux in the mid 1st century AD while fragments of Amphorae have been discovered in Pompeii (destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD) that mention Bordeaux wine. The capital of the Roman province of Aquitania flourished & grew bigger thanks to its wine & metals exports. Roman temples, an amphitheater, thermae & luxurious houses were built to accommodate the rising Romanized population.


During the years of the Severan dynasty(193 AD- 235 AD) the city’s economical & political importance was elevated due to both seaborne & land-based trade that flowed through the main Roman arteries of Via Aquitania which connected Mediterranean Narbonne with the Atlantic Ocean (it ended up in Burdigala) and Asturica Burdigalam connecting Hispania with Gallia.


The end of the 3rd century marked the end of the undisrupted & safe circulation of trade & people within the Roman Empire bringing a wave of raids by Germanic tribes, with the Vandals being the first to reach Roman Burdigala in 276 AD.



The first signs of human presence in the wider area of Bordeaux go back to the Paleolithic era. Important remains of the Neanderthal man have been discovered in many caves in this region. Around 300 BC the Bituriges Vivisci , one of the many Celtic tribes which strived to find their place in what we now know as France, settled in the area of Bordeaux, establishing their town about 100 km from Garonne River‘s mouth. The town was named Burdigala probably after a river with the name of Bourde which still flows south of the city. That Celtic town would evolve in modern day Bordeaux.


The Celtic or Gallic town became a crossroads of trade, especially tin & other metals between Great Britain & the Iberian Peninsula. The Bituriges were a minor tribe compared to the Aquitani tribes who dominated the region. In 107 BC, during the Cimbrian War (113 BC-101 BC) between the Romans and a number of Germanic and Celtic tribes, the Roman army was crashed in the Battle of Burdigala by the Germanic tribes & their allies, with the Roman commander Lucius Cassius Longinus killed in action along with most of his troops.

An illustration depicting the Teutones, close allies of the Cimbri, wandering in Gaul http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsEurope/BarbarianBiturices.htmMaps of Cimbrian and Teutons invasions Cimbri and and Teuton defeats Cimbri and and Teuton victories https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimbrian_War

Around 56 BC Julius Caesar’s general Publius Crassus with the help of allied Celts completed the conquest of the triangle shaped territory between the Atlantic Ocean, the Pyrenees & the Garonne River, naming it Aquitania. The Bituriges with their town Burdigala are still then not a part of Aquitania but Gallia Celtica  which is also incorporated in the Roman Empire after the end of Ceasar’s Gallic Wars.




In case you deem yourself a member of the respectable category of theatre & cinema lovers then Bordeaux is surely a place that can satisfy your appetite for a play or a movie. The majestic Grand Theatre in Place de la Comedie is a place where everyone must go even if it’s just to admire its interiors. Combined with a live performance of a musical or a ballet the experience is unique. Theatre Femina in rue de Grassi which houses theatre companies from across Europe is also one of the most popular venues in the city as is the Theatre National de Bordeaux en Aquitaine which consistently stages some of Bordeaux’s finest theatrical performances. For those who prefer Cinema, then Cinema Utopia is a unique movie theatre housed in an old church building in Place Camille Jullian with an old fashioned charm & atmosphere that will compensate you for its lack of modern amenities during your viewing of the movies always in their original language.It also has a restaurant-bar ideal for an after-movie dinner & drink.



I have some more money left (really??).Where do I spend it? Well even if you don’t spend your money it’s always fun to mingle a little bit with the city’s vibrant shopaholics. A good idea would be to start from something quaint, extraordinary just to wake up the consuming beast you’re trying to subdue. The area around Rue Bouffard, Rue des Remparts & Rue Notre Dame market is known as the village of Notre Dame where more than 30 antique shops guarantee you will find an antique that fulfills your strange appetites. In case you are interested in finding ammunitions for a an assault on French cuisine, meaning you have the time to cook something, Marche Capucins or les Capus between St. Jean station & Place de la Victorie is the place for you. If its good for local restauranteurs it’s good for you.


Place de la Victorie is the lively & youthful square with the red marble obelisk, meeting point of the young folk, starting point of St.Catherine street (Sainte Catherine),the main pedestrianized shopping street of the city with 1.2 kms of commercial shops leading to Place de la Comédie ( Grand Theatre ).