PART I: City Stroll - Impressions of Bordeaux, France

I had a 4-day French affair. It was quick, but loads of fun. 

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On Saturday morning, I took my little carry-on, grabbed my purse and was filled with excitement, nervously bouncing up and down during breakfast at the airport. Although excited, I was a little tired as I couldn’t really sleep the night before. When I finally boarded the plane, I was trying to think of some French phrases I had learned in school - years ago. 

After a little more than an hour, I stood on Parisian ground. Paris! Well, I didn’t see much of it, nothing at all except the airport and the train station at Charles de Gaulle, to be precise. I hung out at a little café, had a café au lait and listened to the people speaking French around me. Très sexy, I should say. 

I was looking forward to the TGV first class experience. However, it wasn’t all that great - not as great as I had expected. Why? Because I apparently was on an old TGV and therefore, first class was not what I had in mind after having taken Virgin Trains to Scotland. Nevertheless, I couldn’t complain. It reminded me a little bit of the Orient Express (all dark red, carpet and fluffy seats). I had a comfy single seat right by the window and so I could snuggle up and spend my next four and a half hours watching my fellow French passengers drink wine (no, it’s obviously not just a cliché) and take an occasional nap. After the sun had set I arrived at Bordeaux St.-Jean, the main station. Believe it or not but the Mediterranean air hit me. It was so mild! 

R. picked me up and the pleasure of seeing her again after 3 months was huge! We were planning on going to her house, cook some pasta and then head out into the night for a glass of wine. We did go to her house and cook dinner, yet, after all the chatting and sudden rain - it was getting late anyway - we decided to drink a few glasses while watching Harry Potter in French, snuggled up in bed. Not bad at all!

This was my first night in French Bordeaux.

The next morning, we were both well-rested and ready for a day filled with food, drink and sightseeing, naturally .

One glimpse outside of the window and we were relieved that it didn’t rain. A chocolate-heavy breakfast (we needed the energy) and an hour later we were ready to roll.

And this is when the culture fun began. 

Although mild outside, Bordeaux was exuding a real pre-Christmas spirit.

And look: I thought those bagpipers only existed in Scotland. I admit I was wrong.

We walked the little alleyways and as time passed by, the sun was eventually getting up. Slowly but surely, though.

Biscuits! France is all about the sweet and delicious (naughty) stuff, I figured. Sure, the French appreciate good food, it’s what they spend (most of) their money on. They treat both their body and certainly their soul. 

No, neither did I have oysters nor snails. And no frog’s leg either. This would have been to much for me. I was more than happy with the pains au chocolate (chocolate croissants), crêpes and the like.

This is one of the more expensive shopping districts. We did window shopping. It was Sunday, anyway. However, comparatively many stores were open. 

Bordeaux is so lovely. With less than 250,000 inhabitants it’s not a big town and therefore it is utterly charming - et les Bordelais sont très chic. Bordelais you call the residents of Bordeaux and many of them are very well-dressed in my opinion.

The Grand Hotel is probably the most high-class place to stay in this city.

Bordeaux is not only a renowned French university town but also well-known for its red wine of the same name. Moreover, the food is a culinary delight. To be honest, you can spend loads of money primarily for two things: clothes and food (and drinks). R. also told me that restaurants are not allowed to simply serve alcoholic beverages. You need to also order food. This is apparently due to bars not wanting to have additional competitors.

Ah, carousels. They seem to be so French and it’s true: they can actually be found all over France. 

We stopped at the Christmas market for mulled wine and fried dough around noon.

Afterwards, we walked around, me soaking in all those new impressions and the charm of this city, before we stopped for savoury crêpes…

…and some apple cider. Yup, they really use those cups.

We relaxed our feet for a little while and re-fueled with this tasty treat. Trust me, it was filling. Real French crêpes was something I was really looking forward to. 

Vive la France. The first half of the day had gone by in the blink of an eye but there was yet so much more to see. I was finding myself in a dreamy, French bubble I didn’t want to burst…

Have you been to Bordeaux before? What were your experiences? I’d love to know.

STAY TUNED: Part II is soon to follow.