After being picked to host the 2016 UEFA European Championship, which runs June 10 to July 10, France will be welcoming soccer fans to matches in 10 of its cities. In Bordeaux, players and supporters will be heading to games at the Matmut Atlantique stadium.
Here’s a look at a few things awaiting fans of the beautiful game prior to kick-off in the capital of this famous wine-growing region.
Where to eat
* Savory specialties: Bordeaux’s gourmet food scene is buzzing right now. The city’s gastronomic offering has been dragged out of a long slumber, with a host of renowned chefs opening eateries in the city. Joël Robuchon, for example, teamed up with businessman Bernard Magrez to open La Grande Maison, where the renowned chef Pierre Gagnaire is soon to take the reins.
The legendary Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay -- who found fame the world over with his cookery reality TV show Hell’s Kitchen -- heads the restaurant at the Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux, and Philippe Etchebest -- who presented the French version of the show -- opened Le Quatrième Mur, in the city’s Grand Théâtre.
* Sweet treats: Sweet-toothed visitors should sample the famous Cannelés de Bordeaux. These bite-sized cakes have a soft custardy center with a caramelized crust and are baked in two stages. This local specialty, flavored with rum and vanilla, is available all over the city, in particular from Baillardran.
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What to see
Must-visit museum: the brand new Cité du Vin -- a cultural center for all things wine-related -- is a must-visit on any trip to Bordeaux. This new contemporary space will focus on all aspects of wine, from growing, grape varieties and production, to wine-related cultures and civilizations. Visitors are able to take a two-hour tour of the exhibitions and installations, where their senses of taste and smell will also be called upon to discover the secrets of the region’s most famous tipple.
Free sightseeing: the best way to explore Bordeaux is to walk through the city via its various squares, taking in Place des Quinconces, Place Pey-Berland, Place de la Comédie and Place de la Bourse. Or, make like the locals, and hop on a bike for a relaxing ride along the banks of the Garonne river. Visitors can get even closer to the river in the Bassins à Flot neighborhood, an area currently being regenerated around a marina.
When to come back
Every other year, Bordeaux celebrates its local drink with The Bordeaux Wine Festival, held at the end of June. Alternating with the Vinexpo international wine industry exhibition, this event brings a festive and laidback feel to city’s riverbanks, which host various tastings and performances all the way down to the Place de la Bourse.