Port City: 2000 Years Ago
What’s the history of Bordeaux, France? The history of the French city dates 2,000 years and its early history included the Celts, Romans, Franks, etc. However, the modern history of the port city is just as interesting.
In June 1940 the Germans advanced toward Paris during World War II. As a result, the country moved its national government to Tours then later relocated again to Bordeaux. The country’s Premier Paul Reynaud achieved a majority within the government that supported a “war to the finish.” Reynaud appealed to the US and Great Britain for military support. His request was defeated by the opposition party.
Reynaud resigned his office on June 16, which was 2 days after the German military entered the city of Paris. Bordeaux was bombed prior to German occupation. The Allies bombed the city again when it became a critical air/sub base of the Germans. Allied forces that were mostly French re-occupied the city in August 1944.
The city of Bordeaux has been expanding since 1945. Since then it has constructed new suburbs and several of the small towns around the city have become part of the city proper. This resulted in a built-up region. There’s also been a shift in the city’s economy/population from the city’s center to the surrounding areas.
The city’s center is dominated by the Meriadeck commercial center that was a big development during the 1970s. This is a major part of the city center. In addition, part of the historic center also been renovated and is now part of a conservation zone. Meanwhile, the Bordeaux suburbs now include various business parks, offices, and retailers. There are also several industrial zones and hypermarkets in the region.
Today the city of Bordeaux is surrounded by boulevards that form a semi-circle. Beyond that area, there are several suburbs. There’s also the Garonne River that divides the city proper and La Bastide. There’s an area of wide quays and behind that, there’s factories, warehouses, and mansions.
Beyond the big city squares, there are low/white houses. An 1800s bridge is used to get to La Bastide on the river’s right bank. There are also still some old city gates and even ruins from an ancient Roman amphitheater. Meanwhile, the Grand Theatre is a colonnade that’s topped with a statue and is one of the top ones located in France. The large double stairway/cupola was used later for the Paris Opera.
The Esplanade dos Quinconces is located further down the quay. It’s one of the biggest squares located in Europe. It has huge statues, two 1400s bell towers, and a 357-foot (109 meters) spire. A late 1900s urban development plan outlined a blueprint for renovating the city’s center and expanding new districts north near a big lake.
There were several new structures built. That included an exhibition hall and a big modern bridge that linked the city with the national highway. In the past, only one bridge existed for people/autos. Then in 2007 Bordeaux’s history center became a UNESCO World Heritage site. This was a major event.