Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bonjour, Bordeaux!

Hola, amigos! How has your summer been? Mine has been steadily, happily improving. It's amazing what a positive effect Spanish sunshine can have. And I've been beyond thrilled to simply be at home, relaxing back into daily life in my little corner of España. That doesn't mean I've forgotten about our last vacation though, just the opposite actually - Bordeaux has been difficult to get off my mind!

We had just 3 days and spent most of that time eating, sipping, strolling, and falling in love with the city. This was not our typical, fast-paced touring trip - hardly any time was spent at historic sites, we walked through just one church, and didn't set foot in a single museum. I do enjoy all of those activities, but this getaway truly felt like a vacation devoted to my favorites things, of which Bordeaux has plenty to offer. And for me, that was the perfect way to spend our time.

So, with that in mind, here is a list of what I consider musts for Bordeaux, if you want a similarly lazy, but delightful trip:

1. Walk along Les Quais, the wide pedestrian path that follows the Garonne River, past the Place de la Bourse. Continue your walk away from the waterfront, through the smaller streets and neighborhoods, dotted with cafes. Pick out your (imaginary for us, unfortunately) new apartment.

Ours is the one with the umbrella...I wish.

Then do the same at night.  

This time, stop to play in the miroir d'eau (water mirror).

And don't forget dinner at a lovely café.

We celebrated our 2nd anniversary one night. Our waiter wished our special day a happy birthday, which when you think about it, is just about right. 

2. Go on a wine tour (or 2!) in one of the famous growing regions outside of the city. We booked a half-day, small group trip to the Margaux region. The van picked us up in town and then took us to two chateaux. We learned some of the basics of Bordeaux and then were able to taste (best part!).

Our second tour, booked with Bordovino, was definitely our favorite though. A full day of biking through St. Emilion, a beautiful medieval town, and it's surrounding wine region. In between rides we stopped for a leisurely lunch on the grounds of a small chateau, a quick tour of the town, wine tasting at a merchant's shop, then a tour and tasting at a large chateau.

I had such high hopes for adorable biking-in-the-countryside-and-drinking-wine photos, but to be honest it was about 90 degrees the day of our tour and we were a hot (but happy!) mess.

Though we're avid wine drinkers and have done wine tours in other places, we knew next-to-nothing about the complexities of French wine. Both tours made it very accessible and fun, which is just how wine should be. And there's a tour to suit everyone - private, group, half day, full day, multiple days (lucky you!), large chateaux or small organic ones, by van, car, walking, biking, even horseback riding.

3. Enjoy wine by the glass at one of Bordeaux's many wine bars. Yes, I'm suggesting more vino drinking, but you're in the world capital of wine! After a day of learning all about Bordeaux, you'll want to try more and there's no easier or cheaper way to do it than at a wine bar. Not to mention, you can only take so many bottles home with you (sadly only 1 for us, due to the super-strict luggage rules on our favorite discount airline). So, now's the time to indulge and try out something new (ever had a Sauternes?) or get a glass of something that would be way too pricey by the bottle.

We spent one post-dinner evening at Aux Quatre Coins du Vin, which makes sampling wines even easier - their system allows you to put euros on a prepaid card, which you use to pay for sips, half glasses, or full glasses of wine from the automated wine-pouring machines. Choose from a selection of Bordeaux, French, and international wines that cost anywhere from a euro for a taste up to about 8 for an entire glass (if you have any questions, the staff is happy to help). Then head back to your table or comfy couch and enjoy!

4. Make sure to be in Bordeaux on a Sunday so you can go to the Marche des Quais, the open air market on the riverfront. Browse the fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, and cheese that are the staples of any good market. But what really makes this market great (especially for a tourist staying in a hotel) is that there are just as many prepared foods to purchase, either to eat there or to take for a picnic. 

The most popular are freshly shucked oysters, perfectly paired with a cold bottle of rosé, which can conveniently be bought at another stand, opened and ready to drink! This makes for a fantastic Sunday brunch - eating fresh seafood and drinking crisp wine, overlooking the Garonne, surrounded by locals doing the same.

We also picked up some cheese, bread, fresh raspberries and strawberries, and had a small picnic in the grass near the market. We lounged in the shade for hours, alternating between snacking, people watching, and napping.  

This might have been the most amazing lazy Sunday on record.

I'm sure that Bordeaux has much, much more to offer, and it really is an impressive city. But I was absolutely content with the wine, food, and leisure.


  1. Happy anniversary and thanks for sharing your trip! I spent a weekend in Bordeaux back in 2008 (we went to Chateau du Taillan for our tasting) and had a wonderful time. Even though it was so close to my neck of the Spanish woods, it felt a world away! Thanks for the memories!

    1. ¡Gracias y de nada! Everyone that I've talked to that has been to Bordeaux has absolutely loved it and I'm no exception. What's not to love?! I hope to make it back someday, maybe for a longer trip that includes a stay in the countryside.


Hola! Feel free to leave some love. Muchas gracias for stopping by!