Bordeaux has been officially included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 28 2007. This distinction recognises the beauty and unity of style of Bordeaux’s architectural heritage, which has developed harmoniously over the centuries and remained remarkably well-preserved. The Bordeaux World Heritage site is the largest urban entity to be so honored. It covers 1,810 hectares, or half of the city, from the outer boulevards to the banks of the Garonne.
A rich concentration of monuments in a dynamic city
With over 347 historic monuments in a protected area of 150 hectares, as well as 3 churches (Saint-André, Saint-Michel, and Saint-Seurin) that were already listed as World Heritage sites on the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela, Bordeaux had a number of assets to convince the jury.
Bordeaux, the capital of the Gironde department and an 18th century architectural gem, owes its beauty to architects spanning a number of periods: Jacques Gabriel (Les Allées de Tourny), Victor Louis (Le Grand Théâtre), Jacques d’Welles (the municipal stadium), and Richard Rogers, who designed not only the Beaubourg Centre in Paris, but also one of Bordeaux’s courts of law.
Above and beyond its lovely architecture, Bordeaux was chosen for its attractive, vibrant, and cosmopolitan districts. From the narrow streets of the Saint-Michel quarter to buildings from the 60s and 70s in Mériadeck, these districts reflect the life of a city that has evolved without losing its character or identity.
Bordeaux’s successful bid as a World Heritage site also relied on several ambitious urban renewal projects begun in 1996 under the impetus of mayor Alain Juppé. These include development of the quays along the Garonne River, the restoration of many façades, and a light rail transit system.
An even greater attraction to tourists
Tourism in Bordeaux had already developed considerably following the city’s extensive facelift. However, it will now be entering a new dimension thanks to the UNESCO listing, undoubtedly exceeding the 2.5 million visitors a year Bordeaux currently welcomes. As of Saturday, 7 July, and in order to celebrate this event, the Bordeaux Tourist Office is organising a new tour within the perimeter defined by UNESCO — a night time tour to discover the city’s most beautiful monuments under floodlights!
Visit the Bordeaux Tourist Office website