Visit a bottle of wine. It’s no secret. That’s what Bordeaux is known for and how you’ll likely spend your time in the world’s largest, premium wine district – savoring the wine and the sights. Bordeaux has long been synonymous with fine wines. Situated in the southwest of France in a graceful crescent along a bend in the Garonne River, you’ll find the region that delivers the full-bodied beverages known the world over. Connected to the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean by the Gironde River (so wide it appears to be an inlet), the inland port of Bordeaux has been an important trading center since before the Roman era. (The city was founded in 3rd century BC by a Celtic tribe.) Bordeaux became incredibly prosperous during the 18th century, when the city was France’s most important port, and a hub for trade to and from the New World. Though its shipping industry has since declined, Bordeaux continues to be a regional transportation center, and its good fortune continues today with wine exports totaling the equivalent of nearly $10 billion US dollars each year. It was the Romans – not the French – who planted the first grape vines along the Garonne River in the 1st century BC. Wine became the life-blood of the region early on, and in many ways still is. Peak wine production in the 13th century produced export numbers that were not exceeded until the 1950s! The Bordeaux region is one of the largest purveyors of wine in the world, producing over half a billion bottles a year – more than 50% of France’s output. Area vineyards stretch to cover over 520 square miles producing wine that’s shipped to over 160 countries worldwide. No doubt, you’ve sampled more than a few of those bottles. Most of us have. But there is more to Bordeaux than wine. Most business and commercial areas are centered in the relatively small 18th century downtown area. The buildings that line the quays present stunning examples of the architecture of the Siècle des Lumières, the Century of Enlightenment. The Place de la Bourse typifies this elegant style, with its slate roof, lower level arcades, and carved faces adorning the keystones of the arches. You can also visit the nearby Palais Gallien, a ruined Roman amphitheater; the Grand Theatre, the inspiration for the famed Paris Opera House; and the Musée des Beaux Arts, which features an impressive collection of French paintings. But art and architecture are not the only things the French do well. Gourmet dining is a specialty here, so be sure to indulge in a grand dinner with a fine regional wine. Gourmet shopping, of course, goes hand in hand with dining so take a stroll down the Rue Sainte Catherine, Porte Dijeaux, and the Cours de Il’intendance, where you’ll find fresh foie gras, truffles, fine cheeses, and a broad selection of wines to enjoy right here or take home for later.