European Escapades

Birthday in Bordeaux




a very nice starter

Having a thoroughly good time in Pons we ended up staying three nights before leaving for Bordeaux the night before my birthday. I knew we were getting close when we hit ‘Cotes de Blaye’ the most northern region of the Bordeaux wine area. As we said before I´m one for looking at twigs and as soon as we came into ´Cotes de Blaye’, the smile on my face increased in size as the landscape changed from farmland to twigs. Vineyards as far as you could see, most pruned back and tied into the familiar T shape ready for the new season’s growth. We decided to stay on a new complex just outside of Bordeaux called ‘Camping du Lac’.

To get to Bordeaux meant a short walk to the bus stop and then a bus ride into the tram station terminus. From here we could catch a regular park & ride service directly into the town centre, which is where we wanted to be. The only issue we had was that the bus service, as it only ran every hour and finished at around six o’clock. We could stay in town longer if we wanted, as the tram was a late runner, but it would have meant a considerable walk back to the camp site from the tram terminus. However we noted that the onsite restaurant looked reasonable and there were a fair few locals eating in there at lunchtime which is always a good sign. So we decided that would be where we ate tonight, allowing us a long afternoon in the city.
We found the tram to be a fun ride in and decided to disembark along the river front where the new UNESCO world heritage site designation, covering most of the central Bordeaux area is situated.

the claasic fountain off the main square in bordeaux

The views and feel of the city are a mixture of both contemporary and classical and we were content to stroll down the embankment, looking for a nice place to stop for a bite to eat and maybe a little wine. We ended up sitting outside a small bistro type place called ‘La Robe’. We perused the menu and deciding to take the plate de jour, which happed to be a prawn risotto on that day. It is funny to think that the more upmarket establishments are, the more expensive they tend to be and the smaller the portion sizes become. For a princely sum of €9 each, we ended up with a large white plate and a small bowl in the centre, in which was a portion of risotto, atop which sat three magnificent prawns.

the spiral staircase of wine

I was glad for the bread which came with the meal, for although the prawn risotto was very tasty, it would have been totally inadequate as a lunchtime meal. It made a perfectly good starter, but a plat de jour? I don’t think so. The bottle of wine ‘Chateau de Braude’ which we had with the meal came in at €28 and was finished with relish as we sat looking across the Gironde to the far bank, taking in the surroundings. It was a very pleasant way to start a birthday, in my opinion. With us being in the wine capital of the world we decided to have a look in the various wine outlets to see if we could find a nice bottle of ‘Chateau Cantemarle’ for a meal tonight. We came across a beautiful wine store that had such a vast selection of wines on show in the smallest of shops. To compensate for the lack of horizontal floor space the wine cellar spiralled upwards over our heads. As we climbed the circular staircase, looking at wines as we ascend, a bottle of ‘Chateau Palmer’ caught my eye, but at over €120 was a little too pricy for me to consider. I found a bottle of ‘Chateau Cantemerle 2006’ but knowing I have two cases of the stuff at home; I was reluctant to pay nearly €30 for the pleasure of such a young vintage. Defeated we headed to the fun fair that had taken over the large square opposite the central tram stop. As we walked through the fair we could hear the screams of two girls on one of the rides. From the noise they were making you would have thought that there was a whole crowd of them. It was similar to a ride me and the kids went on, at the Island of Adventures in Orlando. They sat strapped to seats attached to a round donut shaped platform and a large metal rod in the centre of the platform rose, for what seemed miles, above our heads. They ascended slowly all the way to the top and then the platform just dropped creating a freefall sensation as it plunged back to earth. A good memory in Orlando for me and I now know why the girls are making as much noise as they are. Laughing a little as we move on from the ride, we finish up on a wooden bridge that stretches over the main road and back to the river embankment where we had started our walk. From atop the bridge we can now hear the distant sounds of a live band in a nearby plaza. They seem to be playing Beatles covers and a mix some reggae music. It was a very eclectic selection, not typically French, but a pleasant diversion and a good excuse to sit at one of the cafes that lined the plaza, and enjoy the last of the afternoon sun in Bordeaux. We walk over, sit down and call the waiter to our table. A nice bottle of red wine please waiter, whilst we sit and listen to the music…

Slightly tipsy but content, we head back to the campsite and our dinner awaiting us at the restaurant Carre du Lac.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010 at 10:19 pm and is filed under Travel Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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