My weekend in Bordeaux has been my favorite experience here. Not only did I appreciate the classic essence of Bordeaux, but I also did not feel like a tourist; this city feels like home to me.
Bordeaux was established as a city in 200 A.D. by the Gauls and the Celts. From there, it developed into a major port town, establishing itself as the region and city for wine in France. Unlike Aix-en-Provence, a city showcasing the Roman and Italian influences, Bordeaux exhibits British architecture along with classic Parisian aspects. The city is host to fountains, copper statues and vibrant doors decorating each house front. As a tiny detail, most of the street lamps are hung on wires between houses and made of copper, giving the old streets an elegant, almost modern and minimalistic edge.
On Saturday morning, we left Bordeaux before the sun rose to visit the Lynch-Bages winery in Pauillac, a small town in the Northern part of wine country. As the sun rose over the endless fields of grapes, we slowly warmed up to our early morning adventure by strolling through them, pre-sampling a few grapes in our soon-to-be first real wine tasting.
We sampled two reds after touring the Chateau, where our tour guide demonstrated how one must smell the wine after it is poured, swirl it and smell again for the next wave of scents. After smelling, one takes a sip of wine, sucking it to the back of their mouth and spitting it out to taste the full effects of the aging and barrel toasting; a cooper or barrel maker fires the inside of the wine barrel with different spices for added flavors. After all the steps, one can fully appreciate their glass of wine.
Once we returned to Bordeaux, we explored the city until literally the next day. Losing yourself in the winding streets is easy when there are so many beautiful doors, boutiques, cheese shops — oh my goodness they were so amazing — and music to find all over the city.
We finished our night with real tacos — something I did not think existed in Europe — and dancing in the square of the “Hipster Golden Triangle” before hopping on a tram back to our Airbnb.
The next morning before our other friends woke up, Nikki and I went to the covered Marché de Capucins and got enough breakfast materials for six people for less than 12 euro total! It is so easy to eat well in Europe. I made a breakfast hash of butternut squash, red peppers, zucchini, onions, garlic, over-easy eggs, bread and goat cheese, and an avocado, tomato and spinach salad on the side. Bliss in a breakfast, I think yes.
We then wandered to one of the largest markets I have ever visited in my life. I think only Mauerpark in Berlin would beat in scale. The Marché of Saint Michel had everything you could ever imagine: records, fuzzy mauve chairs from the 70s, old aged bottles of wine, old dollar heads and a surprising number of taxidermy ferrets.
Even after all of this, our day was far from done. After sampling a Hungarian Chimney dessert — literally spun and baked sugar — and stopping at a beautiful coffee shop in the corridors near the market, we went to the newly opened Museum of Wine and Commerce. We toured the old wine cellars, learning the history of Bordeaux and the surrounding wine country. The best part was another wine tasting at the end of the visit!
Before dinner, we walked through the Public Gardens, host to many ducks, a large pond and what we thought was live music. As we wandered over to the music, we instead found a crowd swing dancing under an ivy archway. We sat captivated for the next half hour, watching partners and feet change rapidly through each jazz tune.
To finish our adventure, we wandered back to our favorite hipster neighborhood from the night before and had one of the best meals of my life. Red wine, carrot cream soup, garlic mashed potatoes, a simple salad and roasted chicken with carrots that literally melted in your mouth. A classic, simple and perfect French meal. What better way to bid this city, and possible future home, farewell?
I love you Bordeaux.