While the country of France is chock-full of exciting and incredibly beautiful opportunities for cycling enthusiasts, perhaps the one destination that tops the list is the breathtaking city of Bordeaux.
With a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that seems somehow frozen in time, Bordeaux features a wide variety of ideal terrain, lovely views and plenty of memorable stops along the way.
Here are 3 reasons you should grab your bike and head to Bordeaux.
Wine Perhaps the one thing that has put Bordeaux on the map is the ample supply of fine wine produced there. This is marked by the countless vineyards found throughout the city, which provide an enticing reason to take a break and enjoy a sip or two of some of the best wine in the world. There are some 60 appellations of Bordeaux wine, and the huge variety of styles they represent can typically be categorized into to six main families, two of them being white wines and the other four being red.
Bordeaux wine runs the gamut, from inexpensive everyday table wines to some of the most expensive wines in the world, so there really is something for everyone, whether a wine connoisseur or someone who just enjoys a nice glass of vino from time to time. Cyclists can explore the beautiful vineyards and enjoy a nice picnic in the sun, paired, of course, with a lovely glass of Bordeaux wine.
Aside from its massive wine production, Bordeaux is also home to some incredible architectural finds. In fact, it's known by some as the "City of Art and History" because it offers such a fascinating testimony to the area's rich past. Many of the buildings in Bordeaux were designed with unique architectural styles and techniques, making them even more interesting to behold. For example, the Basilica of St. Michael was built during the 14th and 15th centuries and has been affectionately referred to as "flamboyant" because of its spectacular design and adornments.
The Grand Theatre de Bordeaux, which was officially inaugurated in the year 1780, boasts an exquisite neo-classical façade and a portico with 12 impressive Corinthian style columns. It remains one of the oldest standing wooden framed opera houses in all of Europe that didn't require rebuilding. Today, the Grand Theatre is home to both the Opéra National de Bordeaux, as well as the Ballet National de Bordeaux.
Finally, the Saint-André Cathedral, located south of Bordeaux's old town, is often compared in size and style to the magnificent Notre-Dame in Paris. The cathedral's north doorway is one of its finest features, having been richly decorated with exquisite sculptures depicting such events as the Last Supper and the Ascension. This entrance is flanked with two massive towers and there are a number of other sculptural and artistic finds throughout the building, which was constructed and modified during the 12th, 13th and 15th centuries. It's truly a historical gem.
Rue Sainte Catherine
Once you've had your share of wine and architecture, park your bike and take a stroll down the Rue Sainte Catherine, one of the longest shopping streets in all of Europe. This 1.2-km pedestrian street is absolutely jam-packed with quaint shops and friendly little cafes, providing visitors with the opportunity to partake in world-class shopping while also experiencing the true heart and personality of Bordeaux.
If the many shops and stores lining the street itself aren't enough to satisfy you, continue on to the top of the street, where you will find one of the entrances to the Galerie Bordelaise, a shopping mall which has been open for business since 1834. It's the perfect place to find a treasure or two to bring home to remember your journey.
Bordeaux is often counted among France's loveliest places to visit - and for good reason. There's enough culture, history and adventure there to satisfy even the most finicky of travelers. Add cycling to the mix and you've got the perfect destination for exploring, experiencing and discovering everything this beautiful city has to offer. These are just three of the many reasons you should add Bordeaux to your cycling itinerary. What reasons will you find?