Unesco-crowned Bordeaux is more than wine
Unesco-crowned Bordeaux is more than wine

Imagine quaffing a fine bottle of red in the grounds of a decadent chateau, within hours of leaving London's grey skyscrapers behind.

From July 2, Eurostar begin operating a new high-speed rail service from London's St Pancras to Bordeaux.

Although still almost a six-hour journey, it's a scenic and comfortable way to reach the French Unesco-crowned city. Need further persuasion? Try to resist this list of allures.

1. Place de la Bourse

There are 347 listed historical monuments in Bordeaux, and this royal square, framed by grand 18th-century facades, is probably the most recognisable. A statue of Louis XV originally stood in the middle, but was destroyed during the French Revolution. Now the Three Graces fountain stands in its place.

2. La Cite du Vin

Contained within a bold, futuristic building is an interactive museum dedicated to wine. Set in the Bassins a Flot district, overlooking the Garonne River, it has 20 themed areas covering everything you need to know (from terroir to table) about decent plonk. Take a simulated ride on a wine merchant's galley, and sit back in a giant chair listening to tales of drunkenness in an installation dedicated to "the hangover". Entry costs 20 euros ($A27). Visit www.laciteduvin.com/en

3. Miroir d'eau

Goggle at your reflection in a pool of water or be blinded by cloud of mist in this entertaining outdoor art installation opposite Place de la Bourse; the two effects rotate on a cycle in the world's largest reflecting pool. Designated by Unesco as a contemporary World Heritage Site, it's one of the most instagrammable spots in Bordeaux.

4. Pey-Berland Tower

Enjoy a view of the city's rooftops by climbing the 229 steps of this Gothic bell tower next to the Saint-Andre cathedral. The 15th-century building contains an eight-tonne tenor bell from Notre-Dame, still used today. Only 19 people at a time are allowed inside the monument, so arrive early (10am) to avoid crowds. Tickets cost 6 euros. Visit www.pey-berland.fr/en

5. Aux 4 Coins du Vin

It's not exactly a vending machine, but the serve-yourself equipment at this swish wine cellar is certainly a novel way to beat bar queues. Choose from 40 wines by the glass and 800 by the bottle. Waiters are on hand to help out if you need a human touch. Visit aux4coinsduvin.com

6. The I.BOAT

Ride party waves on board this three-storey ferry without actually having to set sail. Docked permanently at the Bassins a Flots, this hipster boat hosts concerts, exhibitions and club nights. Dine on tapas and burgers in a restaurant on the main deck (open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday) or drink coffee in the sunshine upstairs. After midnight, the upper deck turns into a chill-out zone. Visit www.iboat.eu

7. Suburban vineyards

Bordeaux is within easy reach of some of the world's finest chateaux. Visit the medieval town of Saint-Emilion, home to Petrus, Angelus, Cheval Blanc, or sample Margaux wines in the Medoc. Both can easily be done in a day trip, with lunch, tastings and a driver for 149 euros. Visit www.bordeaux-tourism.co.uk

AAP

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