The French call Bordeaux “the pearl of the Aquitaine,” and few places in the world enjoy a more accurate sobriquet than this elegant city on the Gironde Estuary in southwestern France. Arguably the capital of the global wine trade, Bordeaux hosts the world’s most prestigious annual wine fair, Vinexpo, and has an annual regional turnover from the wine business of nearly $16 billion.
The city has recently re-emerged from a 20-year renovation of the majestic 18th-century limestone buildings that compose its core. These include the Place de la Bourse — the former stock exchange designed by King Louis XV’s architect, Ange-Jacques Gabriel — the opera house and long stretches of neoclassical façades. Currently three hours from Paris by train, Bordeaux will be just two hours away with a new TGV (high-speed train) route that is scheduled to open in 2017.
For a city that hosts a regular stream of international wine buyers and brokers, Bordeaux has long had a curiously undistinguished roster of hotels. The InterContinental Bordeaux — Le Grand Hôtel — where British three-star chef Gordon Ramsay has been appointed to oversee Le Pressoir d’Argent restaurant — is still the best full-service property, but the city has lacked the small charming hotels that are commonly found in other major French cities. This has begun to change.