Saturday, 16 September 2017

Bordeaux - Where To Visit And What To Do

I love Paris, but Bordeaux has to be my favourite city that I've visited in France, if not anywhere! This year is our 3rd time in Bordeaux and that probably speaks for itself in saying that we couldn't ever get tired of it. Bordeaux doesn't really seem touristy (the tourists are mainly French)- maybe it is overshadowed by Paris, or hasn't had time to establish itself in the same way to tourists since it was redeveloped over the last few decades. Either way, I'm really glad that it isn't constantly heaving with people, as its easier to get a feel of the way the Bordelaise do things and feel immersed in the culture without it being altered too much to make sales.
Every Bordelais I have met there has been friendly and there is a mellow vibe that you can't help but soak up. Bordeaux has similar tall and distinctive apartments to Paris, with fancy black metal balconies. The stones of the buildings in Bordeaux are more honey-coloured, but the roofs are terracotta, instead of slate, and Bordeaux has a warmer climate.

I thought I would recommend a few of my favourite places, shops, streets, markets and things to do, that we can't help but revisit each year...

Jardin Public is a large green public park in the centre of Bordeaux. There is a botanical garden, a carousel and plenty of green space filled with people reading, having picnics and relaxing. When it gets a bit too hot in the middle of the day it is the perfect place to go.


Marché des Capucins - Place des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux
This is a covered market full of colourful fresh food and flowers. It's open from 5:30am - 2:30pm on the Saturday and Sunday, closed on Monday, and open from 6am - 1pm Tuesday to Friday.

                                      Les Puces de St Michel - 17 Rue des Faures, 33800 Bordeaux, France
 Just down the street from Marché des Capucins, this is a flea market that takes place on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with stalls that vary from day to day. It sells old books, haberdashery, second hand clothes, accessories and art.

                                      Marché des Quais - 142 Quai des Chartrons, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Marchés des Quais is the market in the pictures above and below. It smells amazing, with plenty of hot food, fresh bread, fruit and vegetables. As it is just next to the Quai alongside the Gargonne river, it has a brilliant atmosphere.

Food - Below I have gathered some of my favourite places to get food in Bordeaux, restaurants and shops, and some places that are popular that I have yet to visit...

Cafés, boulangeries and restaurants
La Fabrique Pains et Bricoles -  47 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges
Le Pain de Soleil - 18 Place Fernand Lafargue
Books & Coffee - 26 Rue Saint-James
Personne n'est parfait (no-one is perfect) - 57 Rue des Ayres
La Brasserie du Passage Saint-Michel - 14 Place Canteloup
Le Michel's - 15 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges

Transport - Bordeaux has the best and easiest network of trams, buses and boats that I have been on. We buy the week passes which cost very little - only €13.40 .Considering how much we used it, we certainly got our money's worth! You can take the boat bus (called the BAT boat) from Stalingrad to the other side of the river at Place de la Bourse, and all the way up the river, where it stops at La Cité du Vin - even if you aren't interested in wine tasting, the building is pretty spectacular and its design was inspired by the shape that wine creates as it's poured into a glass.  Compared to a river cruise down the Seine in Paris it is outstandingly good value.

The picture below was taken just as a thunder storm had begun to rumble overhead.

La Base Sous-Marine - This old WW2 German submarine base most likely isn't the first place that you would think of when exploring a beautiful city, and although an art exhibition with echo-y whale sound effects contributed to making it the creepiest place I have been to, I found it extremely interesting all the same. It has been left just about untouched since the end of the war and you can still read the warning signs painted on the walls.

Place de la Bourse - It is probarbly inevitable that by visiting Bordeaux you will end up at one time or another in Place de la Bourse. You just have to follow the flow of people in the evening, walking, rollerskating, skateboarding and cycling towards the Quai that runs alongside the Garonne river - families and groups of friends meet on the grassy garden area beside it for picnics, to chat and play musical instruments together.

Festivals - Each year we have been very lucky to arrive in Bordeaux during the music and dance festival 'Dansons sur les Quais'  that happens from July to August. A platform on the Quai is filled with dancing of a different style each night, from Salsa and Jive to Country and Swing.

Also, there is 'Relache' - a festival with a range of free music concerts in the city from July to September, organised by 'Allez Les Filles' (Go Girls!), a group that promote alternative music and want to make live music available for everyone. Since 1996, they have hosted over 1000 concerts. We were very lucky to go a 'Shaun Holt and the Teardrops' soul concert across the river at Stalingrad - the atmosphere was amazing.
Below is a photo of Jérémy Dupouy. We bought his album last August and listened to it all year, so seeing him again this time was funny, since we knew all the songs. A large crowd gathered around him and everyone joined in on 'All you need is love' and 'Don't look back in anger'. Some couples even started dancing.

Bordeaux has a range of interesting artisan food, craft and high street shops (located on the main street). I have listed a few of my favourites. I absolutely love bookshops and there is a large chain store bookshop that stretches the length of  Rue Vital Carles, called 'Mallot'. We came across a completely different type of bookshop by accident called 'Au Petit Coin' - a beautiful second hand bookshop, which, when inside you couldn't move for books - quite literally. It was packed, so it was lucky the shopkeeper knew where eveything was...

Librairie Mallot - 15 Rue Vital Carles
 La Machine à Lire - 8 place du Parlement
Au Petit Coin - 31 Place de la Ferme Richemont

A few shops...
Le Petit Souk - 26 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges (beautiful children's homeware and accessories)
LODGE - 26 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges (ceramics and homeware shop)
Steack Fripes - 62 Rue du Mirail (Vintage shop, packed with clothes)
Mieux - 37 rue Saint-James (Very pretty but expencive)
Des Petits Hauts - 5 bis rue de Grassi 

I hope this helps give you a few ideas of things to do, although the way that we mainly found all these lovely places was by not sticking to a set plan but by wandering the streets. If you visit Bordeaux, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...

Do you have a favourite city?

Beccy x


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