Don’t ever choose to lay your foot anywhere near a beach in winter - that’s one advice I took away with me after my trip to Southwest France. I profited from 2 weeks of holidays at the end of February and as I’d very much like to explore more of the country apart from Paris, I chose to take my first TGV to Bordeaux, a site which has also been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and spend 3 days in that marvelous city.
Compared to Paris, Bordeaux is small. Technically, I guess any place compared to Paris would be small anyway. I don’t mean it in a bad way - in fact, I quite enjoyed being able to explore the center entirely on foot.
Walking allowed me to see the narrowest of winding streets that permeate the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. I’d enter these corridors lined by centuries-old stone and at the end I’d reach a sharp turn leading to a quiet junction with quaint cafes, local shops and chocolateries. The larger, more central streets that rattle under the tramway’s heavy stride welcome you with croissant stands, pancake takeaway and shopping boutiques.
Along these boulevards, you’d find the must-see local museums - the Museum of Aquitaine (which features a collection of objects from Roman times, through the Middle Ages and the Rennaissance, when the city became a major location of one of the most important battles, telling the remarkable history of the region), the Museum of Fine Arts (one of the largest fine art galleries located outside of Paris), the Opera (whose splendid staircase's the prototype of the one found in the Opera in Paris), among others. A striking landmarks is the Palais Gallien which represents a small part of the ruines of what was once a Roman amphitheater built in the II century.
What has to be one of my top-favorite museums is found to the north of the city center. After crossing an extra windy bridge over some muddy area of the river Garonne, I reached the City of Wine - a modern, highly interactive museum dedicated to the history of wine. It’s probably the go-to place if you really want to know anything and everything related to the production, (obrabotka), preservation, serving etc. of wine, grapes and winemaking tracing the evolution of this practice from Ancient times to the present. You’re taken on a journey of the social importance of wine globally and historically.
Speaking of wine, after trying some local vintage, I chose to accompanying the glass with lunch. I was advised to try the ultimately cheap and delicious oysters at the market at Place des Capucines. I missed that opportunity to try the dish due to the freezing weather - the restaurant, as I understand, was an open terrace. On my way home at one point, I popped into this cosy place called VerdeNero. The menu was varied, mainly vegetarian, which I appreciated highly, the food was fresh and absolutely delicious, and the service and atmosphere were impeccable. Quaint!
Despite the charming nature of that intricate system of streets, their length and size contributed to what was already a cold weather by swiping my hair and clothes in a swirl of freezing wind. I've literally never been so cold in my life. And mind you, I'm used to below-zero temperatures! We even had some snow, which is as rare as it is in Paris. I'd love to go back in the future, preferably during the summer season, as the beach is less than an hour away - which, by the way, guards the highest dune in Europe! So, until next time!