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Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, called the "port of the moon" for its location on a crescent-shaped portion of the Garonne River in the southwest French region of Aquitaine, is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in France. Bordeaux first rose to fame in the medieval period as a major port for the wine trade. Its fame resurged in the 17th century when France's trade with its colonies grew. The port benefited from the slave trade, exported wine, and also supplied much of Europe with goods brought back from the New World–sugar, cotton, cocoa, and coffee.  When Germany occupied France during WWII, the Germans built a submarine base in the port. Unlike other ports destroyed in the war, Bordeaux's quays were not bombed.


Today, Bordeaux remains an important commercial port. It also, however, is considered the cultural heart of southwest France. The wharf areas along the river have been renovated into green spaces and colorful gardens, as well as shops and cafes. In 2007, UNESCO named Bordeaux a World Heritage site for being one of Europe's largest and best preserved 18th-century architectural cityscapes. The designation encompasses about seven square miles (half of the city).  In addition, Bordeaux is enriched by being a university town of some 60,000 students.  From relaxing at a riverside cafe with a glass of fine French wine or touring a charming chateaux or vineyards, Bordeaux is not to be missed.