Our friends living in the Southwest of France were kind enough to invite us to stay with them and show us around their neck of the woods. We of course wanted to see the beautiful “Sud Ouest” of France, so when Ryanair was offering some ridiculously inexpensive flights, we jumped on the opportunity. It turns out, nothing ends up being that cheap with Ryanair, but our wonderful trip more than made up for it.
We flew into Bordeaux first and had a few days on our own. Bordeaux is a beautiful city with pedestrian boulevards and restored architecture. It is relatively inexpensive and has great public transportation. And who can forget the great food and wine! There were no major attractions we felt compelled to see, so we were able to just relax and soak in the atmosphere.
Our first full day, we started out at the Marché des Quais along the banks of the Garonne River. We got the usual fruit and cheese, but really lucked out with a delicious bakery vendor.
We got an assortment of macarons and some traditional Canelés.
We really should have bought more Canelés because they were so delicious and we spent the rest of the trip trying to find ones that compared! We ate some fresh oysters and watched the market get busy towards lunchtime.
We made our way back towards the centre of the city stopping in Le Jardin Public, which is a romantic garden in the heart of the city.
It has a pond surrounded by large mature trees as well as 18th century buildings including a Natural History Museum and an Orangery Restaurant.
We stopped by the vast Place des Quinconces, which is one of the largest city squares in Europe. There is a tall column with a statue on top and an amazing fountain that rivals those in other well known European cities.
That evening, we went to a restaurant we found the evening before, when we had arrived and were looking for something quick to eat. A lively group was sitting at the outside table and as I approached to peer in at the packed restaurant, they asked if I had a booking. I didn’t, but promptly made one for the following night because the food looked amazing and everyone was having a wonderful time. Le Bouchon Bordelais is tucked away in a back alley off of the popular Rue Saint Rémi, which is known for all of its restaurants. The night of our booking, the restaurant filled up quickly with other savvy diners who knew to book ahead. We both agreed it was one of the best meals we’ve had in awhile.
During our stay in Bordeaux, Vinexpo, an international wine and spirit exhibition was on. The city was teaming with people in the industry and it made for very good people watching at dinner to see how wine experts dined and networked. The couple next to us was chatting with their neighbours, both parties obviously in the wine industry. When they left, the man forgot his coat and Mike ran out the door and down the street to give it to him. Twenty minutes later, the man came back to the restaurant with a bottle of his wine. We got excited that he was giving it to us to show his appreciation, but much to our disappointment, he gave it to the other table of wine connoisseurs. Good thing we were going to meet up with our own wine connoisseur friends who would share some of their excellent wine and knowledge with us later in the trip!