With Simon away working the other week I took advantage of the gap in our diaries and indulged in one of my favourite activities – a good browse on Skyscanner looking for cheap flights The result? a few days away in Bordeaux!
Although we had been to Bordeaux before it was only for a few hours and so this visit gave me time I explore in a bit more depth.
After a stopover at Gatwick north Premier Inn and an early morning flight we touched down at the airport in Merignac just before lunchtime. With only hand luggage the bus ride into the city was not only quick but at €1.50 ridiculously cheap. This then left the afternoon free for a late lunch at a pavement cafe near my rented apartment and a nose around the old town.
First impressions were of a bustling, energetic, vibrant and surprisingly youthful city. The whole of the city centre was pedestrianised and a modern tram system was installed by the current mayor (Alain June a who has been mayor since 1995!) and it has really helped reduce pollution and make it a very walkable place.
The primary architecture is a mix of grand boulevards and beautiful 17th and 18th century streets all interspersed with intriguing alleyways just begging to be explored.
Bordeaux has a long history and was a major centre for the Romans and much of the street layouts descend from that time. The primary shopping street in particular stretches straight for 1.2km and is often said to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe.
One of the issues with travelling solo is what to do in the evening but Bordeaux has no less than two central cinemas showing films in their original language. Thus, after a delicious steak frites I spent a pleasant few hours watching Unforgiven in a converted church just yards away from my apartment.
The following day, with temperatures forecast to hit 36c I decided I needed some air conditioned retail therapy and so spent a few hours exploring the clean and well laid out shopping in the city centre. Lunch was in the market area – a super bowl of Moules frites.
As well as grand terraces there are also some stand alone beautiful buildings, several with foundations going back to roman periods. Modern architecture hasn’t been forgotten with Anthony Gormley statues and similar dotted around the city.
One of the chief delights of Bordeaux however has to be its wine and I was most excited to discover the Bar a Vin just next to the opera house where you can sample multiple glasses of different Bordeaux wines from as little as €1 for a small glass. A perfect way to cool off in the heat and watch the world go by!
On my last day I took advantage of a guided group walk offered by Bordeaux Walking Tours and our guide really helped to explain the context of what I’d been seeing the last few days. She also took us to some new corners I hadn’t discover and at €15 I thought was very good value.
After a last lunch all too soon it was time to head back to the airport and my flight home. We are back out to France in Tilly very shortly anyway but for once it was lovley to be able to stay in the heart of a city. I think we will definitely be back to Bordeaux!