Bordeaux is a famous port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department. The municipality (commune) of Bordeaux proper has a population of 243,626 (2012). But, together with its suburbs and satellite towns Bordeaux is the centre of the Bordeaux Métropole, with a population closer to 750,000 inhabitants and over 1,000,000 in the Metropolitan Area, the 5th largest in France.
It is the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, and is known as "La Perle d'Aquitaine" (The Pearl of Aquitaine). Bordeaux is the city which has the highest number of preserved historical buildings in France, except for Paris. The C18th was the golden age for the city - many buildings including those on the quayside, are from this period. Victor Hugo found the town so beautiful that he is said to have remarked, "take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux".
Bordeaux is well known as the world's wine capital. The wine economy in the area takes in 14.5 billion Euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the C8th. Today, there is about 116,160 hectares of vineyards, with 10,000 wine-producing châteaux and 13,000 growers, with an annual production of approximately 960 million bottles
The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the C18th.
During W W II, the Italian Royal Navy established a submarine base at Bordeaux. Submarines participated in the Battle of the Atlantic from this base, which was also a major base for German U-boats as headquarters of 12th U-boat Flotilla. The massive, very well reinforced concrete U-boat pens have proved impractical to demolish and are now used as a cultural center for exhibitions.