Bordeaux, France, the capital of Gironde department. It lies on the Garonne River in southwestern France, some 50 miles (80 km) from the Bay of Biscay and about 310 miles (500 km) south-southwest of Paris.
Bordeaux is a major seaport and industrial center in the heart of one of France's leading wine-producing regions. The city has large oil refining, shipbuilding, and food processing industries and also produces machinery, chemicals, transportation equipment, clothing, and glassware. Railways, roads, airlines, and waterways link Bordeaux with other major French cities. The port, including facilities on the Gironde, the broad estuary of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, handles mainly wine, crude and refined petroleum, agricultural products, and lumber.
Prominent buildings in Bordeaux include a number of Romanesque and Gothic churches built between 1100 and 1500 and several 18th-century structures, of which the most notable is the Grand Theater. A 17-arch stone bridge, completed in 1822, spans the Garonne and is a major landmark. Among the city's educational and cultural institutions are the University of Bordeaux, established in 1441, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Bordeaux was founded as Burdigala by the Romans in the first century B.C. After Rome's decline in the fifth century A.D., the city was ruled successively by Visigoths and Franks. As part of the Duchy of Aquitaine, it belonged to England from 1154 until 1453, when it passed to France. During the French Revolution (1789–99) Bordeaux was the center of the conservative Girondist party. It was the site of temporary French governments during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and World Wars I and II.