BORDEAUX (Le Verdon)
Situated on the Garonne River, 70 miles (113 km) inland from the Atlantic, Bordeaux's origin can be traced back to the 3rd century when it was Aquitaine's Roman capital called Burdigala. From 1154 to 1453, the town prospered under the rule of the English, whose fondness for the region's red wines gave impetus to the local wine industry. At various times, Bordeaux even served as the nation's capital: in 1870, at the beginning of World War I, and for two weeks in 1940 before the Vichy government was proclaimed. Bordeaux's neo-classical architecture, wide avenues and well-tended public squares and parks lend the city a certain grandeur. Excellent museums, an imposing cathedral and a much-praised theatre add to the city's attractions. The principal highlights, clustered around the town centre, can easily be explored on foot.