France and Portugal Vacation: 6 May 2023 - A Day in Bordeaux


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Saturday, May 6 - A Day in Bordeaux

We got up about 7:00 and had breakfast just after 8:00, planning on packing in a lot of sights on Saturday. We took a tram ride to Église Saint-Louis des Chartrons, a church toward the North side of the city whose spires we had seen from along the Garonne the day before. Then we took a beautiful walk through the expansive park, "Jardin Public".

Photos from Saturday morning (35 images) Photos from the garden (31 images)

After the park, we stopped at Palais Gallien, the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre. Our planned walk took us by Le Goût du Papier, a paper shop that Ginger had scoped out online where she made some selections to add to her craft and gift supplies. Then it was on to Basilique Saint-Seurin, a church with a fascinating crypt under its foundation.

Photos from Saturday's city walk (34 images)

From a nearby plaza called Place Gambetta, we hopped on a tram toward our next destination, Place des Quinconces, a large plaza with memorials, a towering ornate fountan, and on this day a large outdoor market.

After lunch consisting of wraps and a drink from the local Monoprix, we needed some afternoon snacks, right? La Toque Cuivrée was just the right place for canelés for Neil (more about those later), and then we took a walk to one of the city's most famous ice cream places, La Maison du Glacier – very crowded, with a long line streatching across the street, but very worth it!

We ate our treats in the adjacent plaza, which of course was right in front of another church, Église Saint-Pierre, so we paid that a visit as well. Walking back to Rue St-Catherine, we stopped for an afternoon coffee for Neil on the way back to the Agent Paper store we had seen the previous evening. Ginger had a field day shopping, even though the place was tiny. On our way back to the guest house, we checked to see if there was still time to go up into Pey-Berland, the bell tower next to the city's cathedral, Cathédrale Saint-André. Nope – it was just after 5:00 and we had just missed the last tour for the day, but we got information about tour times for the next day. We did tour the cathedral itself though, then returned to the guest house where we figured out how to get tower tickets online.

Photos from Saturday afternoon (53 images)

It was still fairly early and would be light for a while longer, so we decided somewhat on the fly to take the city boat transport to check out some sights up the river, since our transit ticket covered the boat routes as well. We took it to the stop at La Cité du Vin, a venue that's all about wine, including a museum and exhibition center. Don't be fooled by the online pictures - that glass is puke green and it's one of the ugliest buildings we've ever seen. Anyway, on the way back, we stolled a lovely boardwalk jammed with shops, mostly closed by this time, along the river for a while before catching the tram back to Place de la Victorie. We stopped for pizza at Piuma (another place we had scouted out from the walk the previous evening), where we ordered at the counter and ate right there at the café tables on the pedestrian street. It was delicious, and the service was possibly the most friendly we've ever had. It was still pretty light outside, but well after 9:00, so on the way back to the guest house we took a different walking route just for a change of scenery. We finished off the fabulous and exhausting day with an evening coffee and canelés while planning our next day's trip to Toulouse.

Photos from our trek up the Garonne River (21 images) Photos from Saturday evening (14 images)

Now, about those canelés: these are specialty treats popular in Bordeaux, where they originated, small striated cylindrical pastries baked in special copper molds that give them a caramelized outer layer and a custard-like center. Ginger is not a fan because she doesn't like the caramelization, but Neil thinks they might just be a gift from heaven.

On to the next day >