Bordeaux! Eau eau, let’s go …

A pre-Christmas present!

One minute I was suffering from rainsoaked doom and gloom. A split second later a sudden ‘ping’ heralded an unexpected invitation to Bordeaux. Ho ho, I thought – let’s go!

Flying into Bordeaux

We are here already, staying at ‘Chez Dupont’ – a restaurant with rooms nearby. It’s sunny and warm and the long weekend stretches out ahead.

Bordeaux – room with a view

Our room is spacious with interesting antiques, a separate niche with a writing desk and a super modern bathroom. Two big windows look out onto ‘la rue Notre-Dame’. Outside it’s sunlit and warm as we make our way to the local ‘Jardin Publique’ and enjoy our first coffee abroad.

Bordeaux – Le Jardin des Plantes
Bordeaux – Le Jardin des Plantes café
Bordeaux tableau

Moving on …

Lunchtime – grilled veg + cheese
faire de la bicyclette – ou ‘en vélo’
Bordeaux – chez le fleuriste

The city is a mix of old and new. Old fashioned narrow streets open out into large, sunlit squares, full of restaurants and fountains.

exploring long, tall alleys
large sunlit squares

The air here is clear and fresh but I wondered why the Garonne river is the colour of ‘café au lait’. This is because it brings down a lot of sediment with it from its headwaters in the Pyrenees and when that mixes with the salty sea water coming in from the Gironde estuary that sediment is brought to the surface. The river finally meets with another, the Dordogne and the two flow out together into the Atlantic ocean.

A wide promenade now leads us along the river to ‘La Citè des Vins’, an extraordinary modern building upstream.

La Garonnne – pour se promener

The walk along the river is very popular – it takes us about half an hour to reach the ‘ La Cité des Vins’. We are made very welcome – there’s even a sofa in the library, which I stretch out on for a few languorous moments …

La Cité des Vins – Bordeaux
Inside La Cité des Vins, Bordeaux

Nearby is the former submarine base, built by the Germans and used by the Italians in WW2. It is massive, ugly and threatening, a dingy, merciless, concrete building which still holds the water for the submarine berths inside. The ceilings are four storeys high with classical arches between the rooms. The whole building has been converted into a huge centre for the arts, which show mind blowing ‘Bassins de Lumières’.

I hadn’t experienced this way of showing art before. You enter into darkness. We find ourselves in Venice during the Renaissance as flickering, moving images of the city flow over the walls, the high ceilings and the floors. I was somewhat disorientated, feeling as if I might fall into a canal as the water where the submarines were berthed also reflects the light. It was an intense experience.

Venice suddenly disappeared and our eyes were bombarded by the colourful, sometimes Sargentesque paintings of the Spanish artist, Sorolla. Little children ran around in the dark shadows calling excitedly to one another, like birds. I felt I was immersed in a dream world.

Sorolla painting

The paintings are blown up so that you feel you can just walk into them.

Back to reality and returning to ‘Chez Dupont’ was a different story. We waited endlessly for a bus in the twilight. Then we had a brainwave – could we get an Uber? Surprise, the answer was ‘Yes’ and a lovely lady soon hove into view. We enjoyed trying out our French on the way back and the restaurant was open for dinner. Sometimes things do work like a dream!

The waiter introduced us to a glamorous bottle of Bordeaux liqueur called Lillet. Dinner was excellent and we retired to bed for an early start next morning. We are off to the food market.

stairs up to our room
must be Picasso – bonne nuit

Awake to sunshine and blue skies – it’s a perfect day for exploring and we are soon bowling along on a modern tram to the ‘Marché des Capucins’.

on our way to the market for ‘petit déjeuner’

It hasn’t been raining – the streets are all washed down at dawn. Merveilleux.

Fruits de mer – Marché des Capucins
More fruits de mer – Marché des Capucins

We found a table and enjoyed a delectable ‘petit déjeuner’ …

Oysters for breakfast!
La fromagerie – le Marché des Capucins – Bordeaux
carottes, poireaux et pommes de terre’
Bordeaux salt cod – a speciality

We needed a little sweetness now and made for the patisserie counter. What are these? They look delicious!

Les ‘dames blanches’

Small, round, light and airy ‘choux’ patisserie filled with cream – perfect!

Next on our list – la rue St-James – picturesque and full of interesting boutiques …

La rue St-James – Bordeaux

There are those sort of places that just spill over with a cornucopia of temptations – especially when you’re in a country not your own.

a treasure trove
a place for a rest – ‘pause café’ in la rue St-James

They also do a wonderful brunch. Don’t miss it.

I’m inquisitive
Bordeaux graffiti

We’re on our way again …

Bordeaux – a city of spires inspires …
Bordeaux – bâtiment fleurie
Bordeaux – lunch at LouLou
I like this!

We didn’t eat here – just passed by and I liked their sense of humour!

It’s amazing what you can find down an unassuming side street!

We stopped for a coffee at ‘Paul’. There was a woman sitting with a boy near our table who reminded me so much of an actress in one of my favourite programmes – ‘Dix pour Cent’ or ‘Call My Agent’. I love that show! It can’t have been her though! Could it?!

We finally get to ‘Le Marché aux Puces’. I could stay here all day!

One man and his dog – ‘Marché aux Puces’ – Bordeaux
Bordeaux – Marché aux Puces

There is something in the photo above which I bought for two euros – on show later!

Marché aux Puces’ – Bordeaux, November 2022

Much as I love looking at paintings, they wouldn’t fit in my case. I was drawn to an old master portrait of an Italian gentleman – I even returned to have another look – but it had already gone. Just as well … sigh …

My companion fared better. She bought a wooden, carved and colourful cock-a-doodledoo. Vintage. She went back to the stall later on with it in her bag and heard a customer asking if the seller still had it. ‘Non, c’est déjà vendu’, he replied … it clucked softly in her bag.

the vintage cockerel – a bargain!

My two euro buy intrigued me and I was able to find out more about it as there was an indented stamp on the back with the shape of a windmill plus the letters ORCHIES underneath.

It came from a factory in Flanders, opened by two brothers in 1886 and is listed as Old French Art Nouveau majolica. It’s so astonishing that you can find all that information so quickly on the Internet. And it’s such a very decorative plate.

my cherry picking vintage plate!

Next on our list was the famous ‘Bourse’ reflected in the ‘Miroir d’Eau’. We had just about time to get there before making our way back to collect our things on the way to the airport.


A flying visit to a wine ‘cave’, where we chose a suitable Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m mentioning this partly because we had a long conversation with the proprietor, who complimented me on my French accent – probably being kind but definitely encouraging!

I haven’t mentioned the Bordeaux ‘Canelés’ which are sold in their own small shops around the city, along with shiny gold boxes of soft caramels, which are so bad for your teeth and so unputdownable.

The Canelés are actually more like a dessert – crisply caramelised on the outside and soft within. They are actually described as ‘un dessert onctueux’. A wonderful onomatopoeic word.

the shiny gold box full of soft caramels (toffees!) – but not full for long …

This turned out to be the last warm and sunny weekend in Bordeaux before rain set in. We were lucky. Next time we’ll try the Eurostar, as the TGV is super fast from Paris to Bordeaux . Meanwhile, this trip was a jewel, lighting up the end of 2022.

Au revoir et Bonne Nouvelle Année

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