A wine wonderland just opened in Bordeaux, France, with rides, restaurants and, oh, tons of vino. La Cité du Vin is a modern architectural jewel that seemingly erupts out of the banks of the Garonne River in Bordeaux, and takes inspiration from both museums and theme parks in its approach to teaching visitors about all things wine. There are exhibits, lectures, tastings, and like any good museum, an engaging boutique.
The most Disney-like aspect of the park is a 50-seat "boat" that takes visitors on an experiential journey through the voyage of history's wine merchants. A 250-seat auditorium hosts lectures and concerts, and a permanent gallery features a virtual tour of the world's vineyards, studies on winemaking, wine-inspired art and a "five senses buffet" with tasting workshops. Patrons can finish their visit on the 8th floor of the modern glass structure at "The Belvedere" where there is a 360-degree view of the surrounding vineyards, plus wine tasting under a giant chandelier made of thousands of bottles.
Mayor of Bordaux Alain Juppé likened the massive structure and cultural center to New York's Guggenheim Museum. "It was paradoxical that Bordeaux did not have an iconic venue paying tribute to one of the key elements that has been creating its wealth for centuries," he says.
The Cité is owned by the city of Bordeaux and run by the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilizations, but celebrates wines from all over the world. Parisian Architects XTU designed the avant-garde building to mimic the look of wine swirling in a glass. Casson Mann, the English museum design experts, shaped the interiors and Vitra decked out the space in modern furnishings. The only problem is that once you go, you may never want to leave.