The ninth-largest city in France, Bordeaux has a population of 200,000, which increases to almost 800,000 if its suburbs and environs are taken into account. Considered the world's wine capital — of which Bordeaux event venues take full advantage — the grape industry is worth an estimated $20 billion a year. The latest figures state that the Bordeaux region has almost 300,000 acres of vineyards, almost 60 appellations, 10,000 wine-producing chateaux and more than 13,000 grape growers — with a lot of that production gracing convention industry dinners, galas, and receptions around the world.
Visitors flow and fly here via Bordeaux–Merignac Airport (BOD), which is eight miles west of the city center. It has service from all over Europe but none from North America, save for a seasonal route to Montreal on Air Transat.
The main convention center here is the Bordeaux Convention Centre, which has three amphitheaters that can work in tandem for up to 1,850 persons, 10 meeting rooms, 30,000 square feet of exhibit space, and a reception space for 2,500. For expositions, the 80,000-square-meter Bordeaux Exhibition Centre has four halls, one of which comprises 50,000 square meters.
Hotels here perfect for business groups include the 166-room Pullman Bordeaux Lac, which has 19 meeting rooms, with the Montaigne Room able to host up to 630 persons theater-style; the 150-room Grand Hotel de Bordeaux & Spa, which opened in 2007 in an 18th-century building and has seven salons and four lobbies for events, the largest able to host 250 persons; the 137-room Novotel Bordeaux Centre, which has 12 meeting rooms, the largest two able to host 90 persons each; the 83-room Burdigala Bordeaux, which has meeting space for 80 persons and an amphitheater for 120; and the 45-room Seekoo Hotel, which has a very modern design inside and out, as well as three meeting rooms and, for up to 90 persons, the largest space here, a screening and seminar room.
Most celebrated among Bordeaux's private event space is its old stock exchange, the Palais de la Bourse, which wraps around a reflecting pool and has approximately 25,000 square feet of room, including an amphitheater for 133 persons, a gallery for 500, and a columned atrium with tile floor for 644, all on the banks of the Garonne River close to the Grand Theatre. Other modern choices include cultural center Le Pin Galant Espace Congres, which has an auditorium for 1,410 persons, a 13,000-square-foot pavilion, 4,000-square-foot lobby, 300-square-foot mezzanine, 40-square-foot meeting room, and a restaurant; and glass Hangar 14, which is on a revamped stretch of the Garonne River and has a terrace overlooking the water and 54,000 square feet of exhibit space on two levels. Two fairy-tale castles are Chateau d'Agassac, which is about 15 minutes' drive outside of Bordeaux and has its own wine label and a grand reception room for 270 persons; and walled Chateau Royal de Cazeneuve, which has been home to royalty and today has seven function spaces, including the Henri IV salon for 300 persons, as well as its attractive grounds for 800.
French cuisine here is as good as it is in all other parts of France. Restaurants to choose include L'Estacade, which sits on the river and has great views, an Alain Ducasse-trained chef and a summer terrace; La Petite Gironde, just upriver but on the same side as L'Estacade and which sits in a 50,000-square-foot garden, with a large, covered, outdoor dining area, as well as a main room; celebrated Gravelier, which has a private room on its second floor for groups of up to 25 persons; Spanish restaurant (Bordeaux is only 150 miles from the Spanish border) El Asador, which specializes in meats and also has a riverside location; and gourmet Le Croc-Loup, a romantic choice in the city's St Peter's district.
Photo by Flickr user: mistca