Bordeaux is an ancient port city on the estuary of the Garonne River in south-east France. Settlement there is dated to pre-Roman times, but the town only came to prominence in the 12th century as the capital of the county of Gascony within the Duchy of Aquitaine as the chief wine exporting port for the region.
The town was in English hands from the accession of Henry II in 1154 (by virtue of his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152) to its capture by France in 1453. England’s Richard II was born there.
Deprived of its wine trade with England it languished between 1453 and the 16th century when the French trans-Atlantic trade began, reaching its peak of prosperity in the 18th century before the suppression of the slave trade.
The region is so famous for its vineyards that the word “Bordeaux” has become generic for certain types of wine. The famous Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grape varieties originated there.
Today, the city itself has a population nearing quarter of a million.