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Cities of France - Bordeaux

Surrounded by the green of the vineyards, Bordeaux rises proudly on the banks of the Garonne River in south west France.

The ninth largest city in France, it was known as "La perle d'Aquitaine" or "La belle endormie" (Sleeping Beauty) as the old centre had black walls due to pollution. Today, La Belle Bordeaux would be more accurate.

Bordeaux is classified as a "City of Art and History" and is home to 362 monuments historiques (only Paris has more in France) with buildings dating back to Roman times. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century.

The turn of the millennium was a major turning point for Bordeaux, when the former mayor, controversial ex-Prime Minister Alain Juppé, made sweeping changes to this graceful city, turning boulevards over to pedestrians, restoring neoclassical architecture, and implementing a high-tech public transport system.

If you love to shop, you'll be delighted to discover Bordeaux is home to the longest shopping strip in Europe. Rue Saint Catherine is a 1.2 km long stretch of high-end shops, brasseries, cafés and shopping centres. This includes the famous department store "Galeries Lafayette" which has its interiors designed to resemble a royal palace.

Considered by many to be the wine industry capital of the world. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century. The vine was introduced to the area by the Romans, in the mid-first century, to provide wine for local consumption, and wine has been produced continuously in the region since then.

The Bordeaux region now has about 116,160 hectares of vineyards, 57 appellations, 10,000 wine-producing châteaux and 13,000 grape growers. With an annual production of approximately 960 million bottles, Bordeaux produces everyday wine as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world. The key grape varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Carmenere, Malbec; Semillon, Saugivnon Blanc and Muscadelle. Approximately 88% of Bordeaux wines are red wines.

Tourism, especially wine tourism, is a major industry. However, the city is also known as a centre for the aeronautic industry. The Port de la Lune is an important hub with almost nine million tons of goods passing through there each year.