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Published: October 7th 2014
Bordeaux France 4 to 6 October 2014
We arrived at our hotel in time to unload our bags and for Tom to take the car back. After we got settled in, Tom went into the city by himself (I was a bit off colour which he also caught that night!).
Our hotel was interesting. It was an old warehouse that had been converted to accommodation. It was quite new so pretty good with a kitchenette as well as being close to the train/tram although sometimes noisy.
The next day we caught the train into the CBD which took about 10 minutes - very efficient, even on Sundays. We noticed straight away that there were parks and open spaces and beautiful architecture of the buildings. In Quinconces Square where we got off the train, is the beautiful, detailed fountain monument to the Girondins, a group of moderate, bourgeois National Assembly deputies who were guillotined during the French Revolution.
In the 1st park we came across, as soon as we got off the train, there was many beautifully restored old cars and motor bikes on display - corvettes, minis, Jaguars, etc. We wandered around them for awhile. I had
to smile at the proud looks on the car owner's faces, showing off their pride and joy.
Although Bordeaux is renowned for its wines, considered amongst the best in the world (except for Australian wines!!) we stayed in the city rather than doing a tour of the wineries as it was Sunday and we weren't 100%. Oh well!!
It is a big city with one million people. After years of neglect, the former wet docks are the country's new hot spot, with a number of cafés, gardens, and museums. We spent a lot of time wandering along the long promenade, occasionally stopping for coffee and cold drink and later, lunch. We also did a lot of people watching. We felt no time pressures and just thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Bordeaux has a lively university community of over 60,000, (Bordeaux Campus is the largest in France) which establishes that Bordeaux is about more than just wine. We saw several groups of Uni students dressed up in fancy dress costumes, just as we did in Nantes.
Bordeaux is considered a very tolerant and relaxed place - no one will bother you about your political beliefs, religion, or sexual orientation.
However, there was a demonstration for gay rights in the city on Sunday with police everywhere, as well as a second demonstration on The Family and children's rights and safety.
The cultural, artistic, and music scenes are very vibrant. The city was ruled by the English for a long time, which is why Bordeaux seems to have an "English flair". We visited the Grand Theatre which was a beautiful building and had performances going on.
Bordeaux is often referred to as "Little Paris" and the rivalry between the "Bordelais" (people from Bordeaux) and "Parisiens" is a hot subject, but I say why compare 2 beautiful cities.
Bordeaux is a flat city, built on the banks of the Garonne River. It is also the largest French city by area and geographically one of the largest in Europe.
We learned that due to the weakness of the subsoil, there are no skyscrapers in Bordeaux, which explains its sprawl. The centre of the town has retained its traditional stone mansions and smart terraces, hence the reason behind the city being called "Little Paris". We also noticed that many of the buildings were very clean so they must have a
substantial cleaning program.
While having one of our coffees, we watched the Jacques-Chaban-Delmas lift bridge rise to let 2 big cruise liners through. The 1st ship only seamed to just make it under the bridge. The bridge (pont in french) located between the "Quais" and the "Aquitaine bridge". Opened in 2013, it features a liftable deck, which goes up to 53 meters.
We walked along the Sainte-Catherine street in the Pedestrian Centre and enjoy the scenery. This is said to be the longest mall in the world, but I am not sure about that.
I climb the 243 steps of the tower of Saint-Michel, and enjoyed the panoramic view of Bordeaux. This is the bell tower which has never had the bells fitted but they are displayed on the 1st level of the tower
What is most spectacular along the promenade of the river is the miroir d'eau (water mirror) at the border of the river. Every now and then, it is filled with 2 cm of water, alternated with a cloud of mist. On one side, its back drop is the river and on the other side is the Place de la Bouse (Place Royale).
This was spectacular, both during the day and at night. I hope the photos do it justice.
We visited the Notre Dame Church (Eglise Notre Dame la Grande), a beautiful church which half of
it had been cleaned. We learned not confuse this church with its more famous namesake in Paris, as this 11th century church is beautiful in its own right.
On Sunday evening, I walked down to the La Victiore which is an historical monument where all the uni students hang out as there were stacks of bars sprinkled around the area. Here I also saw the Victory Arch (Roman architecture), at the centre of La Victoire and a great example of the town's Roman roots.
So it was a full day for us in Bordeaux, and one that was very enjoyable. Tom went back to the hotel in the late afternoon while I stayed on to see the night lights. I just love cities at night, particularly when they have mirror water features!!
The next morning, we caught the same train/tram into Central Station to catch the train to San Sebastian in Spain.
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