Bordeaux as a whole, rather than any particular points within it, is what you'll want to visit in order to understand why Victor Hugo described it as Versailles plus Antwerp, and why, when he was exiled from his native Spain, the painter Francisco de Goya chose it as his last home (he died here in 1828). The capital of southwest France and the region's largest city, Bordeaux remains synonymous with the wine trade: wine shippers have long maintained their headquarters along the banks of the Garonne, while buyers from around the world arrive for the huge biennial Vinexpo show (held in odd-number years). Today, much in the city is spanking new, courtesy of France's former prime minister, Alain Juppé, who became mayor of the city several years ago. As the gateway to marvelous Margaux and superlative Sauternes, Bordeaux—best entered from the south by the river—is 580 km (360 miles) southwest of Paris, 240 km (150 miles) northwest of Toulouse, and 190 km (118 miles) north of Biarritz.
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Things You Can't Miss
Warehouses along this once sketchy harbor are now home to avant-garde art spaces, boutiques, outlet stores, vintage bookstores and cafés.
Driving back to Paris? Visit the château where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years. The park is dotted with inventions, including an armored tank.
Winemakers from 21 châteaux turn the city into a giant wine-tasting party. Thanks to a bus run by the tourism office, you can visit them all.
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Take a break from wine-tasting to see St.-André Cathedral and the St.-Seurin Basilica, with its Gallo-Roman crypt dating from the 6th century.
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Across from the Basilica of St. Michael there’s a Sunday flea market where you can browse. Or just explore the lively and historic quarter on any day.
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