Saturday began as many of the best Saturdays begin: we slept in until 10:30. Had a quick breakfast of toast, homemade melon jam and tea with honey, packed an overnight bag and drove into Bordeaux. Once we found parking, our first stop was a traditional Boulangerie. Using an oven built in 1765, they create a beautiful range of traditional breads and pastries and our French friend agreed that the quality of the croissant was top notch so that was enough for us.
Next priority: lunch. It was 2pm and most places stop serving at that time as they close around three to prepare and re-open for dinner at seven or so. We went to a traditional French bistro where we had beef cheeks with carrots, and they were fantastic. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth perfection and the carrots had a bit of crunch, all with a rich and inviting sauce. I don’t remember what A’s meal was but it looked pretty great! Oh- and the fresh bread served alongside. I think I should live in Europe!
We took a walking tour of the city, through Places des Quinconces (the city square here is one of the largest in Europe), past the Statue de la place des Quinconces which was hidden during WWII to protect the copper from being melted down by occupying nazi troops. Please forgive the wiki link here- but it’s the only English one I could find!
We visited churches/cathedrals, we passed Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux (which dates back to 1780), today the home of the Opéra National de Bordeaux, and snuck inside for a quick photo on the stairs. We walked through the city streets in a light rain, stopping in a few shops. I bought linen trousers and a lovely navy dress that Estelle tells me is VERY typically French (let’s gloss over the fact that after wearing it only twice, I later mistakenly put said French dress through the machine on a cold, gentle cycle and shrunk it quite severely – and definitely cried a little. Yes, people, I know this isn’t a real life problem but I was very sad!). We also checked out Grands Vins de Bordeaux. It’s a wine store, and looks like it is triangular from the outside, but features a circular staircase within that leads you past countless wines, some of the pricier ones protected behind plexiglass. It was a shop like no other: take a look at the price on the most expensive bottle we spotted!
With some time to kill and the rain falling, we stopped for a quick drink at a tapas bar before we went for our proper dinner. I think this is what people imagine when they think of Paris- glittering reflections on the streets, couples hurrying about under the cover of shared umbrellas- but let me tell you it gave us a laugh as we thought we’d be getting sunshine in the Southwest regions of France!
At dinner, Estelle had a mushroom risotto, while the rest of us had the duck. For the guys, the duck was topped with a creamy shallot sauce. For me and my delicate digestive system it was more simple, but the quality of the duck was superb and it stood alone beautifully. The guys enjoyed some special bonding time, and we all benefited from fantastic service. Dessert was bread with another Basque cheese and a black cherry spread. Mmmmm.
We caught the tram in order to take in the evening atmosphere, which was lovely with the rainy streets reflecting the lights, especially at Place de la Bourse! In the daytime, there is a reflecting pool there, but we enjoyed a similar effect with the rain. The walk through the park to our second tram stop was lovely with the trees lit from below, and as T had visited Bordeaux once before but I had not, A and I made a quick run back over to the square so that I could see the beauty of the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux in the evening (worth it!).
Once we were back at the car we were off for the night to stay with Estelle’s parents at their property in Bourg, where they grow grapes to sell to winemakers. We spent the night in the massive house. With 3 floors, very high ceilings, and shuttered windows, it was clearly very grand in its day. We quickly settled in and another day was done.