The particular charm of Bordeaux has always fascinated visitors and has often inspired writers and artists - native sons and passing guests.
The Latin poet Ausone glorified the power and beauty of the city that was his birthplace, homeland and love, a land where the skies are gentle and mild.
Michel de Montaigne, the mayor-philosopher, was undoubtedly one of the city's most famous ambassadors. Traces still remain in the old town - in rue de la Rousselle, where the Logis des Eyquem can be found, and rue Gouvéa, where where he used to visit his friend, humanist Etienne de La Boétie.
Another glory of Bordeaux, Charles Louis de Montesquieu, sometime wine-grower and one of the leading thinkers of the "Century of Light". He cultivated the refinement and art of living that are beneficial for mankind: "the air, the grapes and the wine from the banks of the Garonne are an excellent antidote for melancholy".
Above all, these visitors were impressed by the city's magnificent architecture :
At the beginning of the 18th century, Saint Simon judged that it "was one of the finest things to be admired".
After the end of the major transformations at the end of the century, other literary celebrities came to stay in Bordeaux :
Stendhal, for whom the charm was "the spectacle of all this activity and the ships that arrive each day from all over the world". He claimed to "like the people of Bordeaux and their Epicurean life".
Victor Hugo showed a different attitude and spirit in distinguishing the double facet of Bordeaux - the old and the new: "Everything about modern Bordeaux is imbued with grandeur, like Versailles, and everything about old Bordeaux recounts its history, like Anvers".
Théophile Gauthier like other visitors, was impressed by the "Versailles-like" majesty of the architecture and the prosperity of the city, which has managed to conserve the thousand and one facets of its history.
For others, political circumstances or romantic adventures were at the origin of their move to Bordeaux and their enthusiasm :
During the siege of Paris in 1870, Emile Zola was a parliamentary correspondent in Bordeaux:
"Here, at the Café de Bordeaux and in the street in front of La Comédie, you would think you were on the Boulevard des Italiens".
In a novel written in 1859, Jules Verne devoted some pages to Bordeaux and its wines. He saw in the art of tasting, "something of a religious nature".
It was in "the troubled light of April in Bordeaux" that novelist François Mauriac cultivated his literary genius. Francis James spent his early years in Bordeaux, where he wrote his first poems.
Other members of this group of young writers were Jacques Rivière, André Lafon, Jean Forton, Jean de la Ville de Mirmont, a generation decimated by the war. Later, poets, writers and journalists like Jean Anouilh, Jean Cayrol, Robert Escarpit, Philippe Sollers, Michelle Perin, Pierre Veilletet, Claude Bourgeix, made Bordeaux a living part of their literature. Camille Julian the historian, Elie Faure the expert in the Arts and, Elisée Reclus the geographer, all established the basis for a modern approach in their respective disciplines.
Bordeaux has also played host to famous Royal visitors, as well as illustrious French and foreign heads of state :
Eleanor d'Aquitaine et Henri II Plantagenet, Louis XIII and Anne d'Autriche who were married in the Cathedral, Marie de Medicis, Louis XIV and his court, Napoléon 1er on his return from Spain, Napoléon III, Alphonse XIII d'Espagne, de Gaulle, Kroutchev, Elisabeth II d'Angleterre who, on the occasion of her official visit on June 12th 1992, declared: "I am delighted to visit this French city, which is the very essence of elegance", and more recently presidents François Mitterand, Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Poutine, Nicolas Sarkozy et Thabo Mbeki.