January 27, 2014

0996 FRANCE (New Aquitaine) - Bordeaux, Port of the Moon (UNESCO WHS)

Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River, in southwestern France, known mainly as the world's wine industry capital. At first a Celtic settlement, it came under Roman rule around 60 BC, being sacked by the Vandals, then by the Visigoths and Franks, who have taken it in possession. It started to play a regional role on the fringes of the Frankish Duchy of Vasconia, being meant to keep in check the Basques and defend the mouth of the Garonne from the Vikings. Between 12th and 15th centuries it regained importance following the marriage of Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine with Count Henri Plantagenet, the future King Henry II of England. The city flourished, even being for a while the capital of an independent state, but in the end was annexed by France. In the 16th century it became the center of the distribution of sugar and slaves from the West Indies, along with the traditional wine. The 18th century was its golden age, many downtown buildings being built in this period. In 1870, at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, the French government relocated to Bordeaux. This happened again during the WWI and again very briefly during the WWII, when it was also a submarine base from Axis powers.

The city's nicknames are La perle d'Aquitaine (The Pearl of Aquitaine), and La Belle Endormie (Sleeping Beauty) in reference to the old center which had black walls due to pollution. Meanwhile, a part of the city, Le Port de La Lune, was almost completely renovated, becoming in 2007 a UNESCO World Heritage Site as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century. In fact Baron Haussmann used it as a model when he was asked by Emperor Napoleon III to transform a then still quasi-medieval Paris into a modern capital, and Victor Hugo found the town so beautiful, that once said: "take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux".

Bordeaux is home to 362 monuments historiques (only Paris has more in France), being one of Europe's biggest 18th-century architectural urban areas. One of its main sights is Place de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Square), designed by the Royal architect Jacques Ange Gabriel as landscape for an equestrian statue of Louis XV, destroyed during the Revolution. Inaugurated in 1749, is the symbol of the prosperity of the city, and one of the most representative works of French classical architectural art of the 18th century. To the north stood the Palais de la Bourse (now Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bordeaux - in the postcard) and to the south l'Hôtel des Fermes (current Interregional Directorate Customs and Excise within which is the National Museum of Customs).

About the stamp
The stamp was issued on November 9, 1970, to celebrate the Centennial of the Issue of Bordeaux.

Bordeaux - Wikipedia
Place de la Bourse (Bordeaux) - Wikipedia 

Sender: Sébastien C. (direct swap)
Sent from Bordeaux (Aquitaine / France), on 03.12.2013

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