Bordeaux, the largest city in southwest France, is famed throughout the world for its wine and countryside vineyards. While the city is not a model of modern urban planning, that is changing, as a tram and other modern fixtures are being developed. The surrounding country is some of the most beautiful in France, and travelers looking to see picturesque vineyards, and sample rich red wines will not be disappoint with a trip to Bordeaux wine country.

The city of Bordeaux maintains some 18th century grace among its downtown, where fine shops and museums await visitors. Bordeaux is going through an urban update scheduled to be completed by 2009. Until then, some buildings may be hidden by scaffolding, and roads may be crowded with construction detours.

Avoid the congestion by renting a car and driving to the vineyards north of the city to sample Bordeaux wines, and find out why Bordeaux wine is some of the best in the world. At the end of June Bordeaux France has a 4 day wine festival. For some exotic relaxation, take a red wine bath at the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, which is also a hotel and vineyard. For an education in wine, the Ecole du Vin offers lessons about wine in English. To try more Bordeaux wines, visit the Haut-Brion chateau, and next to it, La Mission-Haut Brion.

While you're in Bordeaux don't miss out on the Musee d'Art Contemporain, housed in a converted, 19th century warehouse. The Musee des Chartrons is nearby, in the home of a former wine merchant, showcasing the history of the wine trade. The Musee d'Aquitaine details the history of Bordeaux. The Cathedrale St-André is a gothic cathedral with an exterior wall dating back to 1096. Climb the 164 foot belfry of Pey-Berland tower, for terrific views of Bordeaux.

The Bordeaux airport is located 6 miles west of the city, and offers regular flights to Bordeaux from around Europe. If you're on the continent, check for flights to Bordeaux France on inexpensive Ryanair and Air France. Rent a car at the Bordeaux airport to tour wine country, or take a taxi into the city.

Bordeaux France offers many beautiful places to stay. Be wary of the area around the train station, as it has a reputation for being seedy. The top end hotel is the Hotel Burdigala, a modern, 4-star hotel. La Maison du Lierre is a restored townhouse with a picturesque staircase. The hotel de Seze is in an elegant 18th century building. The Hotel Excelsior offers inexpensive, simple rooms.

Bordeaux France has a nice selection of bars & nightclubs, including Les Argentiers, a jazz hangout; Connemara, an Irish bar; and L'Aztecal, a Latin style nightclub. The Living Room is a club dressed in home decor, with couches, TVs, and rugs. The Grand Theatre has plays and operas in French. On the whole, Bordeaux is an increasingly modern city, with beautiful countryside vineyards, historic value, shopping, and great wine.

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