Soaring 180 ft above Bordeaux’s Garonne River and 10-floors high with a shiny, metallic facade, La Cité du Vin is an impressive sight. A dramatic contrast to the 18th century buildings nearby, the City of Wine which opened on June 1st is much more than a mere museum. It is a multi-cultural centre – “an international temple of wine that happens to be in the heart of Bordeaux”, in the words of Prince Robert de Luxembourg, president of La Cité’s cultural affairs committee and owner of Château Haut-Brion and Domaine Clarence Dillon.
La Cité took 10 years and over $90 million to build and is the work of designers, Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières who didn’t want the building to resemble any recognizable shape, “because it is an evocation of the soul of wine between the river and the city”, they said.
Situated on the banks of the Garonne it is shaped to resemble the movement of wine in a glass. And much like the fluid shape of the building, even the wine tour has an organic flow of movement, according to the design team. “Visitors pass through the building like a river, with guests becoming voyagers circulating around the central staircase,” they say.
The museum which is being heralded as the “Guggenheim of wine,” offers an immersive permanent installation of 20 themed spaces, starting in the Gallery of Civilizations going back to the origin of wine 9,000 years ago. Most exhibits are multi-sensory and the interactive tour can be taken in any order with a digital guide in eight different languages (plus a version for children). The tour ends with a wine-tasting on the eighth floor viewing platform. But this is not all! There are numerous other attractions including three temporary exhibitions a year with major works on loan from leading museums and private collections, plus restaurants and bars and a 14,000-bottle retail shop on the ground floor selling 800 labels from 80 countries.
La Cité du Vin, 134-150 Quai de Bacalan Telephone (33) 05-5681-3847 Website www.laciteduvin/en Cost Permanent tour US$23; temporary exhibits $9; wine tasting workshops $17–$40; reduced prices for children. Getting there River shuttle or tram; $1.70 per ride using the city transport ticket.