After a smooth, two-hour train ride from Toulouse, we arrived in Bordeaux, a UNESCO Heritage City … the entire city is recognized as an historical site. There has been a city by the Garonne River for a very long time. It is 100km from the Atlantic and has been a water trade route since the first inhabitants set up shop. Bordeaux’s riverfront building era took place during their financial boon in the 18th century. We noticed the architectural continuity as soon as we started walking around. From the very start of their building process, they had a plan to keep all the buildings facing the river looking harmonious. And now, some 400 years later, the appearance is strikingly beautiful.
Our flat was just a few blocks from the river and across the street from Saint Michel Church, with the 3rd highest bell tower in France. One morning we headed out in the fog and I got the image below. I turned it into a black and white to capture an old-time feel.
Our first day out we found the Christmas Market and had another taste of Vin Chaud (hot wine). This was especially good with the cold weather. There were 130 booths under the colorful lights and crisp air. It just feels like Christmas with that kind of ambience. After enjoying our adult beverage, we found their semi-permanent flea market. Most of the merchants had a theme: clothing (tons of fur coats), antique furniture, collectibles, nostalgic memorabilia, and more. I’m not quite sure what theme this guy was going for.
We purchased the 72-hour Bordeaux City Passes, which gave us free admission to all of their museums, unlimited use of their public transportation, a two-hour walking tour, a one-hour bus tour, and a few other goodies. Riding the three tram lines was really helpful. In fact, after doing some tram joyriding on our first outing, we found an Ikea. This was one of Marsha’s European goals. We celebrated the accomplishment by having Swedish meatballs, dessert, and something they don’t have in American Ikeas: Rosé. Gotta love the French.
Our walking tour was on the coldest day of our stay. We were full-on cold-weather attired. Marsha’s cute new French hat helped keep her warm. Our guide explained the history of this robust city. Because of the building restrictions, the city is known as ‘limestone and iron.’ All the building faces are limestone with iron accents for balcony railings, light posts, and decorative art pieces. Although the limestone gives off a lovely golden glow to the city, it is susceptible to turning black from pollution. Just 20 years ago the city started carefully cleaning the limestone, which is now an ongoing endeavor; building owners are required to keep their building facades clean. The image below will give you a peek into this process.
After our city walking tour we headed back to our flat for some hot soup and down time. This was the first time we’ve stayed in someone’s actual residence. Most of the flats we have stayed in are dedicated exclusively for guests. The owner of this one lives there when guests are not using it. It felt somewhat awkward and crowded with all of her stuff around. For some travelers, this is not an issue, but we will try to avoid these in the future.
After our R&R, we headed back out and caught the tour bus for our one-hour, night-time city ride. It was nice seeing all the lights and getting an overview of Bordeaux. We made note of the places we wanted to return to the next day. The tower gate below was one such spot.
Of the several museums we went to, none was as amazing as La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux’s wine museum. This is the most interactive, informative, high-tech, and whimsical museum we have ever enjoyed. And it’s all about wine, Bordeaux’s #1 industry, followed by tourism. The five hours flew by as we investigated the 19 different areas with our audioguides. We concluded the tour with a glass of wine on the eighth floor with a panoramic view of the Garonne River. The exterior of the museum reminded me of the EMP (original name) in Seattle. I’ve included two images from the sniffing exhibit.
On our final night, we took a walk across the bridge to look back on this enchanting city. The featured image for this post was from the bridge, while I was dodging bikes, buses, and trams. If you look closely, you can see some ‘ghosts’ due to the slow shutter speed I used. They just seemed to be a proper part of the image.
We really enjoyed the city of Bordeaux and will be coming back some day … during warmer weather.
Fun Fact: While visiting different churches this season, we noticed that the Baby Jesus was not included in the nativity scenes. When we asked why, the response was, “He hasn’t come yet. That will be on the 25th.” Makes perfect sense when you think about it.
NEW WEB PAGE
Several of you have expressed interest in seeing what our different flats look like. So, with that in mind, I’ve added a new page to our website: Lodging. Simply go to www.boomerreloading.com and click on the Lodging tab on the top navigational bar.
This week’s flat can be seen by clicking on the bed image below.
For the next four weeks we will be ‘returning home’ to PARIS.
Invite your friends and family to join the fun by subscribing to the Stowaway Newsletter on our site. Just click the open Steamer Trunk on the Homepage.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Preston & Marsha
Don’t Retire: Reload – Groovin’ on the Flip Side