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A Day in Bordeaux

By: Cityseeker
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Museum of Aquitaine

In 1783, Musée d'Aquitaine was opened to exhibit gemstones. It wasn't until 1862 that it became a museum of local history, archaeology and ethnography, and took on the name that we recognize today. The building is split over four levels, of which 5000 square meters (53, 820 square feet) are devoted to permanent collections, 1000 square meters (10, 764 square feet) belong to temporary exhibitions and 4500 square meters (48, 438 square feet) to reserve stock. Collections chart life in the region from prehistoric times to the modern day, taking a detour through the Gallo-Roman era and the Middle Ages. Acquisitions from overseas, including Africa and the South Sea Islands, make up a significant part of the objects on display. The museum also houses a reference library, a children's library and a specialist library. Admission is free, but the museum may charge for temporary exhibits; call or see website for more information.

Bordeaux, France
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Palais Rohan (Hôtel de Ville de Bordeaux)

This austere 18th-century building plays host to Bordeaux's town hall. The building took 13 years to construct (1771–1784). On two sides of the courtyard, low buildings link the main building to a colonnade. The rear façade is extended by two low baluster pavilions featuring bay windows adorned with garlands. Despite numerous renovations, the palace's original great staircase is still intact inside, as are a string of rooms on the ground floor, which boast of beautiful paneling, and a dining room decorated with trompe-l'œil figures. Two styles of decor, one Pompeian, the other older still, evoke the sheer refinement of Bordeaux interiors in this period.

Bordeaux, France
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Decorative Arts Museum

Owned by the city since 1880, this unique hotel was constructed in 1779 for parliament member Pierre de Raymond de Lalande. It welcomes collections of paintings, engravings, miniatures, sculptures, furniture, ceramics, glassware and silverware. The museum comprises three floors and reserves 300 square meters (3229 square feet) for temporary expositions. The permanent collection, enables the discovery of models of decorative French art (particularly Bordelais) from the 18th and 19th centuries. The restaurant and tea shop welcomes visitors every day except Sundays, from 11a to 6p.

Bordeaux, France
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Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts

Bordeaux's Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1801 by Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1829, the curator managed to obtain a collection of 280 paintings comprising works from Italy, Belgium, Germany and Holland. The Dutch paintings elevated the city's public collection to one of the finest in the country. The north and south wings of the building were renovated in 1994. They are now home to the French and foreign schools of art from the 16th to the 18th Century; most noteworthy are exhibits from the Italian and Dutch schools as well as some 19th and 20th-century works ranging from the Romantic to the Impressionist periods. The museum also contains a library, an information center, a photography lab and a shop selling postcards and prints.

Bordeaux, France
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Le Grand Théâtre

With its imposing facade of impressive corinthian columns, each topped with stone sculptures of Greek goddesses and muses, Le Grand Théâtre is as spectacular as it gets. Built by Victor Louis between 1773 and 1780, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful 18th-century buildings in Europe. Well-known companies, such as the National Orchestra of Bordeaux Aquitaine, perform here, but the program delights opera and ballet lovers as well. This magnificent theater was restored in 1990 and 1991 to its former glory, with dominating shades of blues with gilt. Those wishing to learn more about the theater can book a tour that covers the history of this architectural gem. The Grand Café welcomes spectators and visitors wishing to have a coffee or lunch.

Bordeaux, France
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Bordeaux Wine School (Ecole du Vin)

Ecole du Vin is a world renowned wine school in the center of Bordeaux. In the country of wines, this may be the best way to train your palette and develop a keen sense for tasting. The Bordeaux Wine School offers a variety of courses. You can take up the intensive program, or the a la carte program, customized to your needs. And if you are on a short trip to the city, sign up for the summer course which is the shortest one. With courses like this, this school will always keep you in high spirits.

Bordeaux, France
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St. Seurin Basilica

Situated on an ancient Christian site, this 11th-century basilica is a dedicated global heritage site. It is at the same time one of the oldest places of worship in the city, and one of the most popular concert halls for religious music, for the basilica has wonderful acoustics. Gregorian chant and children's choral groups are frequently on the program, as well as organ concerts and the European Philharmonic Orchestra. Built in a Neo-Gothic style that includes architectural elements of the Middle Ages, the church has an underground crypt concealing frescoes and sarcophagi dating to the 6th Century, testifying to the art of the earliest Christians.

Bordeaux, France
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Cimetière de la Chartreuse (La Chartreuse Cemetery)

Known as Bordeaux's answer to Paris' famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, many well-known people are buried here, including Goya, Lacour, Flora Tristan and Gauguin's grandmother. Like its larger counterpart, it is also home to an amazing variety of monuments and thus offers a window onto the world of 19th-century sculpture. Its suitably peaceful atmosphere is also reminiscent of the Parisian cemetery. Cimetière de la Chartreuse is the oldest and largest burial site in Bordeaux.

Bordeaux, France
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Musée d'Art Contemporain (Contemporary Art Museum) -CAPC

Located in an old harbor warehouse built in the 19th Century, this museum now presents the major movements of the art world since the 1960s. Works are displayed in monographic or thematic categories, and many young artists are given pride of place. Visitors can admire over 700 works in the permanent collection as well as several temporary exhibits, which altogether unite some 140 artists. After visiting the gallery, the library and bookshop are perfect for book lovers while foodies can take a break at the Café du Musée.

Bordeaux, France
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Bordeaux Public Garden

This verdant space is an island of calm in the hectic heart of Bordeaux. It has lawns perfect for sunbathing as well as a lake that welcomes numerous ducks and swans. In addition to the garden itself, visitors can discover a botanical garden, an arboretum, a natural history museum, a specialized library, and herbariums. This garden was created in the 18th Century. Originally a French garden designed by A.J. Gabriel, it was transformed into an English garden by Bonfin in the middle of the 19th Century.

Bordeaux, France
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Bordeaux Natural History Museum

Opened in 1811, Bordeaux's Natural History Museum is one of the oldest of its kind in France. Set in a stunning private mansion adjoining the Le Jardin Public , the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle hosts a zoological collection of specimens from all over the world. It features present-day species, including those at risk of extinction, belonging to the mammal, bird, reptile and fish families, as well as crustaceans, mollusks and insects. Considerable space is dedicated to local wildlife and to paleontology, with an impressive collection of fossils. The library is open to researchers and the shop offers copies of the museum's publications among other works.

Bordeaux, France
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Jardin botanique de Bordeaux

Le Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux is a historic botanical garden in Bordeaux. Spread across 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres) of green land, this garden is home to a plethora of plant species, some of which date back to the early 17th Century. The current garden was established in the year 1858, and was the first medicinal garden in the region. Local Aquitaine plants as well as exotic species from North America and Far East can be found here. Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux has a wonderful museum that houses a permanent collection of seeds, fruits, leaves, herbals and so on. Exhibition and conference halls are also located within the park, which serve as venues for botany seminars, educational workshops and events of the like.

Bordeaux, France
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