Bordeaux is the sixth largest city in France, twinned with Bristol in the UK, amongst others, and was under British Rule for 300 years from 1152, we are not sure why the British gave it back as it's a pretty special place and would have made the perfect "down south" part of the UK.
Bordeaux is a beautiful city with the largest number of preserved buildings in any French city outside of Paris, in fact it feels like a small version of Paris, with all the style and culture but without the all the tourists, crowds and ridiculous prices.
The city has many historic buildings including the Palais de la Bourse which sits on a very large square with the Miroir d'eau, the worlds largest reflecting pool, opposite. The pool is drained and refilled every 30 minutes and releases a mist spray every 20 or so minutes. The reflection pool gives the most amazing photo shots.
As the sun sets the city comes to life as the bars and restaurants fill and many of the buildings and sights are lit. The Pont de Pierre over the River Garonne is one of the most spectacular sights in the city at night.
We love the Bordeaux bike hire system. For €1.70 a day you can hire a bike and cycle off around the city. There's cycle paths all around and so it's very easy and safe to get around.
There's nothing quite like the uplifting feeling of cycling along the River Garonne with the warm summer air blowing against you and the old city buildings on the right hand side and the river on the left.
Cycling is also a great way to get to and from bars and restaurants in the evenings with bike drop off points throughout the city. Just don't have too much vin for the ride home!
The wine industry accounts for €14.5bn of the Bordeaux economy. Bordeaux is the worlds major wine industry capital and is surrounded by wine regions including Medoc, Graves, and Sauternes.
We attended a wine tasting class held in a local bar. We learned how le French like their wines, they are sticklers for tradition, no screw tops, the majority of their wines have corks, and they dislike awards stickers on their bottles, these are for the uneducated, they much prefer their AOC (Appellations d'Origine Controlee), Superieur or Gran Cru ratings.
A new wine experience in the city is the Cite Du Vin which is a wine museum and exhibition centre built in the shape of a wine decanter. Next to this is Les Halles Bacalan which has twenty up market food stalls and bars, it's similar to the Time Out food market in Lisbon.
One of the stalls at he Halles Bacalan only sells chocolate mousse, how very French! This was on display in large bowls like a Gelato store with several flavours and strengths of chocolate. We tried the dark chocolate and raspberry version which was so good.
The words bistro, brasserie and cafe are all used these days to describe similar eating venues, in the past the word brasserie was used to describe a venue that brewed their own beer, a bistro focused more on food and wine and a cafe on food.
Either way, Bordeaux has a fantastic food and wine scene with winding lanes and streets filled with venues with their obligatory outdoor seating abuzz with locals and tourists. Lounging on the terrace of a bistro, cafe or bar is all part of being Bordelais.
Of all the cities that we have visited on this trip we have enjoyed Bordeaux the most, it's such beautiful city with so much style, culture, friendly locals and superb a food and wine scene. It's right up our boulevard.
Au revoir Europe
After three months our Continental Europe trip comes to an end. We have absolutely loved every minute of it. As we drove our car back to the Citroen drop off spot we discussed whether we should just stay and go around again!
It's time to get on our bike and head off. Next stop the UK.