France 2005: Bordeaux

Saturday, 30 April 2005

It’s another beautiful day in Belvès – perfect for market day (Saturdays in Belvès; other towns have different market days). The market here is not unlike that in Peterborough, although it is quite a bit smaller. There are vendors of meats, cheeses and vegetables – some very local, some not so much. The biggest line was for bedding plants – pretty much what will be the case in a few weeks at home. A few things are different – someone is selling children’s clothing and there appear to be a few cars available as well. It’s nice to see the 13th century halle being used for its original purpose 800 years later.

We have picked a route to Bordeaux, but decided to delay our departure from Belvès as long as possible. We had lunch (including some of the amazing Sarmentine bread) in our quarters with the windows open, a cool breeze and the birds singing. Then, about 2pm we departed for Bordeaux for an uneventful, but picturesque drive. We successfully navigated Bordeaux traffic – parked – trundled our baggage a few blocks – checked in – returned the car to Europcar (at Gare St. Jean) – took our first ride on the wonderful Bordeaux tram system to a location not far from our hotel – and, finally walked a short while back to our digs, scouting for places to eat along the way.

While we couldn’t decide where to eat on our way back (there are an incredible number of restaurants in a fairly small space in Bordeaux), later we ended up at Chemine Royale, where we had a very nice meal from the 11€ menu, along with excellent service.

Sunday, 1 May 2005

Our first full day in Bordeaux is also May Day, and the scene is far different than Saturday, when the streets were jammed. Restaurants and boulangeries (the French will not be denied fresh bread!) are open and there are various events going on. But full-out shopping (and the wonderful Bordeaux tram system) took a pause today.

It’s actually quite hot today, so we’ve again had to knock off a half-point from the Knowmark Weather Scale, allowing only 2.5 from the possible three. We basically spent the morning and early afternoon orienting ourselves and exploring our immediate surroundings, which is essentially the old centre of Bordeaux. Our first impressions are positive, from the Porte d’Aquitaine to the Porte Dijeaux (which is at the end of the street where we are staying and at the southeast corner of Place Gambetta) and many points between.

We had a nice dinner at Assiette des Provinces, although the bread was not very good. This is very unusual in our experience.

Monday, 2 May 2005

Today we are wondering around Bordeaux a bit more. We plan to hit the Musée des Beaux Arts after lunch which we will probably have again on the little balcony of our hotel room – perhaps there will be photographic evidence a little later on. The beautiful weather continues – it looks like it won’t be ending until the day we leave – yippee!

Later that day …

We spent part of the day doing the things that we said would do … and also “riding the rails.” Bordeaux has a wonderful new tram system and we have purchased two-day passes for it. Our goal is to ride every line – an interesting way to see parts of the city that we would otherwise not see.

Tonight we had dinner at le paradoX’ on Rue des Faussets, which is a tiny street lined with restaurants. Everyone sits outside in weather like this and there is barely enough room for a single person to walk down the street! Steve had calamars basquaise avec son tagliatelle, émincé de volaille avec sa sauce à la moutarde and crème caramel (fait maison). Susan had une tranche de foie gras avec ses toasts, saumon avec sa sauce monbazillac and tarte au citron. This was all washed down by a pleasant bottle of Bordeaux Supérieure.

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Today was our last full day in France (and, Bordeaux). We leave tomorrow, mid-morning, and will miss it here. This was a very slow day for us – we didn’t do too much. We did meet the guy (David Lescher) who has a webcam that we used when planning this trip. He was very charming and seemed pleased that we had found his webcam so useful during our planning (checking the weather and what people were wearing, etc.). We also “road the rails” some more, visiting every stop on the amazing Bordeaux tram system.

Dinner tonight was at A. Thibeaud and was very good. We enjoyed our final (for this visit) bottle of good French wine with our meal – red mullet and salmon for Susan; pork tenderloin for Steve.

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

We returned to Canada today, everything going smoothly (except for the approach to Pearson International Airport, which was anything but smooth!). The flight times were excellent, which meant that we didn’t have to get up too early (about 6am CET), leaving for the airport at 8:15am and arriving in Peterborough just before 6pm. So, we were able to follow our normal morning routine in Bordeaux: noisette (coffee with a little cream) at Le Globe (on Place Gambetta); then pick up some pain aux raisins and/or feuilleté des pommes that was part of our breakfast (along with some fresh fruit) at Dastarac, which was just around the corner from Le Globe. Every day we would take our breakfast on our balcony while watching Bordeaux wake up.

All in all, a great trip – we thoroughly enjoyed it!

Au revoir, France