Monday, 25 August 2008

Bordeaux's civic renewal

We have just returned from a great weekend in Bordeaux, a city magnificently restored under the leadership of Alain Juppe, the city's somewhat controversial mayor. There is much to see in the many pedestrianised streets and squares, with the gleaming new trams and bicycles the only transport allowed in many. The 18th century architecture has been spruced up to show it at its best. Shopping and restaurant-filled streets are mercifully traffic-free, and support a lively cafe culture. We enjoyed a good €460 three night B&B deal at the restored Grand Hotel, which has reopened in the last year after 20 years of closure, as a further symbol of Bordeaux's renaissance. The excellent tourist office provides daily vineyard visits: we took in the medieval town of St Emillion, with its extraordinary underground cathedral, as part of one trip yesterday. Bordeaux today shows how urban renewal can be done. There are many British cities that could learn from its success, not least its twin city of Bristol.

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