I haven’t had the chance to experience France outside Paris, so Bordeaux was a most welcoming surprise in terms of jaunting destinations. The city and the surrounding areas are truly remarkable. When I began processing all the pictures and information I gathered in a 4 day trip, I started to realize that Bordeaux deserves more than just one post. So, because of its uniqueness, I decided to start with the city’s newest landmarks: La Cité du Vin – a museum dedicated entirely to wine.
As we get older we tend to refine our taste in food, men/women, cars, music and of course drinks. We’ve all been there during college years… drinking questionable cheap alcohol that provided the most excruciating hangover the next day. Or tried horrible mixing ideas like red wine with cola!!! (Never done it, but so many have fallen to this vile combo).
Gone are those days and I am thankful for evolving past them. I can say my taste refined around a passion for wines, and lately more towards red wines. So there you go… the perfect set-up: a wine lover, in the world capital of wine, visiting a museum dedicated to wine.
Highlights of the exhibition
La Cité du Vin was opened in June 2016. The building was designed by architects Anouk Legendre and Nicholas Desmarzières and is portraying the way wine is swirling in a carafe… or maybe a gnarled vine stock. Hmm… I can’t decide. Anyway, from the outside to the finest details on the inside, this “citadel” dedicated to wine is the most amazing thing I have ever visited. And the technology is unbelievable. I felt like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, hovering my hands over all the digital tables.
The whole museum appeals to all of your 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, sound and of course taste. You could easily lose track of time learning and engaging in all the information available at the scan of a code.
The amount of information is staggering. Starting with all the grapevines, to all the wine types, how they are produced, how you should enjoy them and in what combinations. For example… Did you know there is this type of wine called “Ice Wine”? In order to make it you have to collect the grapes at -7°, when they are frozen on the vine. This makes the juices more concentrated and you obtain a very sweet dessert wine. Truth be told I’m not a fan of sweet wines, but that little piece of information was fascinating.
There is a whole section where you can “interact” with different wine makers from all over the world. You can find out their stories, their history and you can get a glimpse in to their passion for wine making. I’m not surprised that most of the wineries are family owned businesses passed down from generation to generation. A passion like this is something you cultivate.
You can go through history and experience wine from the ancient Greeks throughout the Renaissance and all the way to the modern age. This has to be one of the most fascinating and interactive history lessons I have ever listened and watched. The stories are brought to life with the help of some amazing and amusing hologram displays.
If you enter the Bacchus and Venus area, you will experience how painters, sculptors, writers, artists over the centuries, combined wine with the art of seduction, love and eroticism. No need to mention that this area of the museum is for 18+ visitors. I am mentioning the 18+ limit because, La Cité du Vin [despite being a wine museum] is kid friendly, especially with all the interactive gadgets.
I saved my favorite part of the exhibition for last; here you get to play with images, colors, smells and sounds. You can test your ability to recognize different scents or pair different foods with wines, all in The Buffet of Senses.
Having all your senses tickled, you cannot leave THE museum dedicated to wine without a tasting. In the price of the ticket you get the audio guide that you will use to scan every bit of information in the museum and a wine tasting at the bar on the top of the building. You can enjoy the glass of wine with a beautiful panoramic view of Bordeaux, the Garonne river and the new Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, the largest lift bridge in Europe.
Before leaving, make sure you visit the world wine cellar located on the ground floor. They have a wide variety of wines from 70 countries around the globe, with prices ranging between 5€ to 50€. I was pleasantly surprised to find not one, but three Romanian wines and 2 Moldavian ones, among them one of my favorites.
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- To get to La Cité du Vin, you can take tram line B or bus lines 7, 32, 45. The stop is named accordingly “La Cité du Vin”. I don’t recommend parking in Bordeaux. It is expensive. You should park on the outskirts of the city for as little as 4-5€ per day, and hop on the public transport.
- Full price ticket is 20€ and includes the audio guide and the wine tasting at the end of the tour; discount options are available on site
- Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
- There are temporary exhibitions and several workshops organized throughout the year; prices and bookings are available on the official website: laciteduvin.com