Travel with me to Bordeaux
Every summer my husband and I set to explore cities that are accessible directly from Bristol, last year we went to La Maddalena in Sardina, we were swimming and snorkelling in Med Sea, eating all the delicious local delicacies and had the best summer holiday! This year we decided to go to Bordeaux, it came on our list since we watched Rick Stein's Long Weekend. Bordeaux is about one hour 15 minutes flight from Bristol Airport, we left on Sunday lunchtime and came back on Thursday afternoon, here is how we spent four full days in Bordeaux.
Where To Stay - Airbnb
We rented a duplex on Rue Fondaudège, it was near Jardin Public and about 15 minutes stroll to city centre. Albeit the heavy road construction (for new tram line) outside of our building, the place satisfied what we needed as we were out most of the time, the major digging was already done so the noise was minimal, the wifi connection, however, was disrupted during our stay, so thank God for a spare 4G dongle!
There are two supermarkets nearby, Carrefour is only open for half day on Sundays but another smaller supermarket that opens normal hours was just across the road, we got most of our supplies there. Sitting in the neighbourhood were a handful of local cafes and brasseries, they were shut on Sundays and potentially Mondays, so it was a bit of a ghost town when we arrived Sunday afternoon. Aside from that, there was also a very well-equipped gym that allows daily drop-in for 9 Euros.
Out and About
It was very easy to get around by tram in Bordeaux, we normally walked to the stop at city centre and got off at wherever we found interesting. Do prepare small change for vending machine or a long queue at ticket office.
A few stops away on line C is Notre Dame, a laid-back hangout with cool vibes as it is surrounded by independent boutiques, galleries, cafes and wine bars. We spent an afternoon at Bocca munching cheese and drinking wine, then we took a stroll to Cité du Vin, you can also take the tram as it is only two stops away but it was a better idea for us to walk off a bottle of wine at lunch.
Come Tuesday we went on a wine tour in Margaux, it was booked through Bordeaux Tourism website and cost 120 euros per head, the itinerary included visit at four château and a delicious three course lunch at the village. The village itself was vibrant and beautiful, we also had fun learning about wine making process, and tasting wines from different vintages and classifications. Our guide was VERY knowledgeable, we also met some very nice people who were equally passionate about wine (or drinking..?). I will write a separate article about this experience.
Wine & Dine
On Sunday night, we went to the (in)famous L'entrecôte for dinner, it is famous for steak frites and infamous for the long queue. Anyhow, we waited 45 minutes to get in, courteous service, decent food, it was also when I realised that French portion can be quite generous. The verdict? I liked the wine and steak was tender, but there are also better steak frites places around, the wait was not worth it.
The next night we went to La Brasserie Bordelaise, the restaurant was buzzing and lively at 1930h, it was located in one of the main streets in the centre but it was not at all touristy. We ordered a couple of wine by glass and steak with vegetables and frites, wine from St. Estephe was deliciously dry and medium body, it paired very well with the generous portion of steak.
After a few rustic experience, we took a change to dine at Le Noailles which is a semi-fine dining restaurant, after a long day in Margaux tasting wine, we just spent the evening at the terrace of Le Noailles to watch the world goes by.
On our last night, we went to La Tupina which was recommended by Rick Stein. I would ask you to go there HUNGRY, because it was hands-down the richest meal over this trip, we had our own starter prior to sharing the biggest steak that we could humanly digest, I will share a review next week.
Activities & People
We went running by the river two mornings, the weather was very pleasant - sunny and cool in the morning, it reminds me of running in Majorca, tranquil and beautiful. If you fancy cycling around town, you can also hire bikes from a day to a week.
We spent one afternoon in Arcachon for the beach (sand dunes) and seafood, it took an hour on the train, you have to check the train time table in advance due to its low frequency. Arcachon was a bit more tourists than city, but it was not super crowded on the day we went, the beach was nice but nothing compared to La Maddalena.
People there were generally helpful and friendly, but English was not commonly spoken, being able to speak (some) French is a definitely advantage to ensure a smooth and pleasurable trip, or you can hire a guide.
Things to note
Lunchtime is 1230h-1430h and dinner 1900-2200h, shops there open late and close early so do most of your shopping after lunch.
Do book wine tour and restaurants in advance because the good ones always fill up quick. Last but not least, summer in Europe means long daylight, do sit out in the evening and be amazed at most beautiful sundown.