After only two-and-a-half weeks working, thanks to a start date well after the beginning of the semester, I embarked on a two-week fall vacation. My trip began in Bordeaux, a spectacular city in the southwestern region of France where wine is plenty and the sunsets are striking.
When planning my journey, I consulted trusted websites such as Lonely Planet, tourism sites, Pinterest and blogs to guide me through the must-sees and tourist traps of Bordeaux. In my research, I discovered I (and you will too!) made a fantastic decision when choosing Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, an inhabited historical site with more UNESCO-protected buildings than any other city in France (beside Paris). While initially the “top 10” posts were helpful to get an idea as to the top attractions, they often shared the same, or similar, information, about all the UNESCO sites to visit.
Instead, I want to share my personal top five, since you can find information about the Miroir d’eau elsewhere. While the UNESCO sites are completely breathtaking and historical and viticulture venues worth your time, here are five “less-standard” ideas that I highly recommend you also add to your agenda:
- Enjoy a local event. If you don’t know of any, walk until you find one. My favorite moments and memories during my four days in Bordeaux, as usual, derive from happenstance and public events. I visited the city near the end of October, unknowingly during a small fair just north of Le Miroir d’eau along the quai. I decided to ride the ferris wheel, and for €5, witnessed magnificent views of the sunset– best seats in the house. The following night, when heading to Église St. Louis des Chartrons, I walked right into a street fair, continuing down all roads with tables full of food and antiques. Soaking in the pure bliss and joy of street jazz and swing dancers, I experienced the city like a local, and loved every moment.
- Spend an hour (or two!) eating lunch on the patio in the square of St. Michael’s Basilica. I spent nearly two hours enjoying the afternoon sun and people-watching during the Wednesday market. Locals and tourists flooded the square selling and collecting pieces of junk (but it’s French junk) at the foot of a magnificent UNESCO church. There are so many markets throughout the city on different days, just find out when and where! Free of entry, pop your head into the church after you’ve eaten, sipped your café, and maybe even bartered for a few unique souvenirs.
Treat yourself with La Maison du Glacier on the terrace in Place Saint-Pierre. Even if it’s cold, the waiter will bring you blankets so you can still enjoy the ice cream and view. The ice cream is amazing, probably the best I’ve ever had, with flavors from Speculoos and chocolate, to rhubarb, rose and melon. The best part? It’s bio, or organic. I never went a day without, and I never left with only one flavor.
- Enjoy Bordeaux’s staple lunch, muscles and wine, at Marche des Capuchins for less than 10€. I picnicked for most of my meals, so staying near the market was a treat. However, a glass of Bordeaux for €1,50? Soup for €5? Fresh cheese, bread, charcuterie and breads, flowers, coffee bars… it’s all there. Pop in for lunch or a snack on your way to- or from- St. Andrés Cathedral (which is, by far, the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen).
- Grab a book- and leave a book- in Jardin Public.
Walk through the park, sit on a bench and feed the ducks. This massive park right outside the historical city center is a gathering place for running groups, family walks, Pokemon catchers and picnickers (hint hint!). But near the bridge and entrance to the Botanical Garden, a little public library provides visitors a chance to exchange a book for a book. If you can read French, or maybe you’ll find an English edition, contribute to the public service by participating in the book exchange.
A spectacular four days spent roaming, drinking cafe and enjoying the awe and wonder of such an old town. City museums, facades and landscapes still contain so many memories and artifacts from its medieval past, it was an honor to be a part of it.
Be sure to check back soon for another five-things listical of Bordeaux, but this time, five things to avoid!
Until then, I hope this post makes you want to visit Bordeaux, because it’s worth the trip. If you’re like me, you’re already looking into flights, so happy planning and fantasizing about this dreamy city… I’m still craving another scoop of that rose glace!