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France officially opened its newest tourist attraction May 31 in the city of Bordeaux, the global cultural capital of wine. La Cité du Vin, a cross between a theme park and a museum, is entirely dedicated to one of the most quintessentially French products – wine.

French President François Hollande officially inaugurated the exhibition center May 31, and the site opened to the public the following day. “The City of Wine,” as it is called in English, has a lot of special features that set it apart from the crowd, like its contemporary architecture and high-tech exhibits. Its curvy, fluid-looking exterior is designed to evoke the swirl of wine in a glass and the building changes color throughout the day with the changing light of the sun.

The mission of the new theme park is to broadcast the deep cultural importance of wine and wine-making traditions to the largest number of people possible. To do that, the City of Wine offers a total immersion into the history and culture of wine through interactive permanent exhibits and multiple planned special exhibitions each year.

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The City of Wine is composed of more than 40,000 square feet of exhibition space, including a 180 foot tall spire and a panoramic viewpoint where visits to the center culminate with a tasting of more than 20 different types of wine from across the globe. The location also houses 19 separate high-tech permanent digital display stations throughout the building that allow for visitors to interact with the history, philosophy, geography and art of wine-making in France and around the world.

Featuring three different wine-tasting stations, the center strives to include all 5 senses in the wine experience, including one station that allows visitors to experience the smell of different types of grapes used in making wines and another that encourages trying out the newest, cutting-edge trends in wine-making.
While one might think that the park is mainly for adults, the designers and managers of the City of Wine have taken particular care to include child-friendly activities, including a special program designed just for kids with games, workshops, and hands-on fun.

Officials are expecting more than 450,000 annual visitors to the park – almost twice the population of its host city – and are planning for it to become a major tourist attraction for Bordeaux.

For more information: Visit the website of La Cité du Vin (in English).

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