Hôtel de Ville

Bordeaux’s city hall is housed in a spectacular palace, which features ornate interiors, elegant gardens and an art gallery stocked with masterpieces.

The Hôtel de Ville, Bordeaux’s city hall, is one of the most impressive landmarks in the city. Facing the cathedral, the city hall or Palais Rohan as it is also known, is a stately and imposing structure featuring lavishly decorated interiors lit with chandeliers. Enter the gardens behind the palace and discover one of the best art galleries in the city.

The palace was built in the decadent pre-revolutionary period of the 1770s. After the political uprising of 1789, it housed the Gironde department of the new government and became the town hall in 1837. In its gardens, don’t miss the art gallery, which was built toward the end of the 19th century.

Step through the gates on Place Pey-Berland into the Cour d'Honneur, the stone courtyard at the front of the palace. Get out your camera for shots of the imposing, symmetrical façade. Look for the sculptures and water features that are often displayed in the courtyard.

Tour the inside of the building to see the chambers, which are decorated in different styles. The municipal council room was designed in the late 19th century and features darker colors. This contrasts with the bright white reception rooms, which are adorned with gold detailing. Climb the Grand Escalier d'Honneur, a stone staircase celebrated for its elegant masonry.

Head to the gardens for views of the palace from a different angle. The gardens also contain the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which includes paintings by famous names such as Brueghel, Delacroix and Matisse as well as pieces by artists from Bordeaux. Browse the museum’s north wing to see works from the last two centuries and venture to the south wing for earlier pieces.

To get here, ride the tram to the Hôtel de Ville stop. Tours of the palace operate on Wednesdays and are in French. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is open every day except Tuesdays and public holidays. Adults are required to pay an admission fee, but children can enter the museum for free.

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