Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bordeaux I

27 August

Often when I left a city, I was sorry I didn't have more time there because there was so much more I wanted to see and taste and experience.  Not so in Carcassonne - I was very much ready to get out of the heat and the empty streets and see a new place.  But Carcassonne wasn't done with me yet... remember how, way back two weeks earlier in Aix, my luggage had broken, and then a couple days later in Lyon, I had bought new luggage?  As I dragged my two-week-old bag towards the Carcassonne train station... the wheel broke.  The same way the previous wheel had broken.  $#@*!.  Okay, got it, lesson learned - never buy shitty luggage when in the middle of a trek across cobblestoned streets.  Don't say I never gave you any good advice.

When we finally made it to the train, we had a direct ticket to Bordeaux.  Part of the way, we shared the ride with some of France's finest.

Hey, maybe I can just borrow one of them to carry my luggage the rest of the way?
We got into Bordeaux around 2 pm.  Unlike most of the cities we stayed in where we were staying near the train station, in this case the station was in a less savory part of town, and we were staying in a hotel about 3 miles away, closed to the center of town.  We could have looked into bus and/or tram schedules - Bordeaux has a good complex of public transportation - but we opted for the easy option and took a cab.  At least, most of the way, we took a cab.  Bordeaux has some streets that are pedestrian-only, and our cab couldn't quite get through to the hotel, so we got out with assurances our hotel was "100 meters that way."  Which thankfully, it was.

Our hotel was on a small side street just off of Rue Sainte Catherine, a major pedestrian through-way that is full of clothing boutiques and chic shops, and crowded with hundreds of people milling about.  Maybe 25m from our hotel was a Paul, a chain boulangerie found across France that offers very decent breads and lunch foods (sandwiches, quiches...).  We stopped down there to pick up our déjeuner, a quiche lorraine and quiche saumon épinards:

Quiche lorraine, as you may recall, is a standard quiche with bacon.  Saumon épinard has salmon and spinach.  We had them heated, but they were tepid at best and, sadly, both pretty forgettable.

After lunch, we headed north to the tourist office so I could get information on wine tastings.  I signed up for a tasting the next morning, and then we set out to see a little of the city.  It was cool and overcast and gusty and a little wet - luckily, not so rainy that you needed an umbrella, since the wind made that a bad idea - such a refreshing change from the sun and heat of Carcassonne!  We walked to the Esplanade des Quinconces and saw the Monument aux Girondins, a column surrounded by an incredible bronze fountain.

Note spray coming out of horses' nostrils
Ride 'em putti?
From there, we walked down to the Gironde, the river that cuts through Bordeaux.

We walked along the river bank for a while, until we came to some well-kept gardens.

My mom was getting tired, so she headed back to the hotel for a while, and I went restaurant hunting.  That is to say, I spent maybe an hour looking at menus to find a likely spot for dinner.  Looking at menus in Bordeaux was a completely different experience from anywhere else I visited.  Usually, you could tell very quickly what the regional dishes were - they appeared on all the menus in town, but nowhere else in the country.  However, in Bordeaux, it was hard to find anything unique on the menus - just lots of beef (literally - many restaurants listed 500g steaks, or 1-kilo behemoths to be split between two people! [note 1 kilo = approx. 2.2 lbs]), duck, foie gras, and standard "French" classics that you find on every menu across the country...  The only two things that finally stood out to me were a tradition of cooking meat on a grill, and salade landaise - a green salad with warm duck breast and gizzards that is a specialty of the Landes département in Aquitaine just south of Bordeaux.

Unfortunately, when it got close to time for dinner, I wasn't feeling well - nothing specific, just a general malaise and exhaustion.  Suffice to say, I wasn't really in the mood to eat out.  So we picked up a couple of flûtes (long, thin breads similar to, but smaller than, a baguette) from Paul and visited a Monoprix to pick up some yogurt, applesauce, and a banana.  On our way to the Monoprix, we passed the Place Pey-Berland, and saw the Tour Pey-Berland:

Dinner in the hotel was a good decision - it was nice to have a night off and just relax and eat dinner in bed.  I was asleep before 10 pm.

Coming soon:

A bientôt,

1 comment:

I need orange said...

I especially like your pic of the bridge across the river. Like the composition -- tower, clouds, bridge, etc.............