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A Celtic tribe, the Biturige Vivisci, founded the city of Bordeaux and named it Burdigala. The city fell under Roman rule around 60 BC. 

The city was plundered by the troops of Abd er Rahman in 732, after he had defeated Duke Eudes and before he was killed during the Battle of Tours on October 10. It was later plundered by the Vikings and it suffered  a succession of barbaric invasions—by the Vandals, Wisigothics, Francs and Normans—until the 12th century. 

Following the marriage of Duchess Alienor (Eleonor in English) d'Aquitaine with the French speaking Count Henri Plantagenet, born in Le Mans, who became, within months of their wedding, King Henry II of England, the town came under English control.

The “English Era” of Bordeaux lasted for three centuries, a period during which the town began to grow. The exportation of wine to England in the 13th century gave Bordeaux its reputation in the wine trade. The town reached its apogee under Edouard de Woodstock. English ownership gradually dwindled, and by 1453 represented only a small band which extended from Bordeaux to Biarritz. After the Hundred Years War, as a result of the battle of Castillon, Bordeaux fell back under the authority of the king of France. The town only regained its sovereignty in 1462. Louis XIV gave Bordeaux the definitive status of a town in the kingdom of France.

The 18th century was its golden age, because of the wine trade with England and Germany and the trades with the West Indies. Many downtown buildings (about 5,000), including those on the quays are from this period. Victor Hugo found the town so beautiful he once said: " take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux". Baron Haussmann, a long time prefect of Bordeaux, used Bordeaux' 18th century big scale rebuilding as a model when he was asked by Emperor Napoleon III to transform a then still quasi-medieval Paris into a "modern" capital that would make France proud.

Like most cities in France, Bordeaux was hit by the French Revolution and its consequences of Terror and the Empire. Trade suffered and did not get back into full swing until the middle of the 19th century with the sale of groundnuts. Once again Bordeaux became a commercial and industrial centre. Unfortunately, phylloxera, a disease which infects vines, had devastating consequences on Bordeaux's vineyards. At the beginning of the 20th century, the town experienced a resurgence as a result of weaponry.

The French government withdrew to the city during the wars of 1870, WWI and WW II . At the end of World War II, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, the radical socialist MP from Gironde, became the mayor of Bordeaux in 1947 and remained in the position until the town elections of 1995, when Alain Juppe succeeded him. Jaques Chaban Delmas was mayor of the town for almost 50 years.

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