Beautiful Bordeaux

France’s wine capital, Bordeaux is both beautiful and bold as Paris. Offering fine art galleries, excellent food and drink, I knew Bordeaux awaited me to explore it for the weekend. I have been meaning to come visit this fine city since I moved to San Sebastian, but with focus on work, I kept on postponing it. But the time finally came to see what Bordeaux offered.

The city also known as La Belle Au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty) is now truly awake after years of slumber.With a high tech transport system which includes a modern tramway system, pedestrianized boulevards and restored neoclassical architecture, the university student population takes advantages of the city’s perks which transforms Bordeaux into a city that never sleeps.

I don’t know if its because I used to live in Paris or feel like Paris is my second home, but I kept on comparing the two. Like Paris, the river, here the Garonne passes through the city and divides it between the left and right bank. One side boasts a largely pedestrianized city with beautiful architecture welcoming tourists on foot to roam up and down the river.

Beautiful gates around the city

Parks in the city centre

The other side, La Bastide, however, is largely industries, factories and is left a little ignored, though I can imagine it to be one of those ‘up and coming’ neighborhoods of Bordeaux.

I decided to try out an intimate but crowded restaurant in La Bastide. Right down the road from the Pont (bridge), lied L’Oiseau Bleu which sits in the old police station.

I found this restaurant to be beautiful, well-lit and with perfect service.

The meal, too, seemed inviting, perhaps even trying to gain a Michelin-star but though the tastes were good, the plating was messy with a lot of ideas put into one dish.

The wine…Great medium-bodied wine, that tasted better letting it sit for 5-10 mins.

Amuse-Bouche: Cream of celery with Wine-salted Chantilly. A little salty at the bottom but a good thought.

 Cream of chestnut, foie gras and ceps mushrooms. Divine. I could have licked the bowl, but thankfully refrained myself.

Langoustine tempura, Cucumber caviar. Now starts the weird plating.

Deconstruction of a Basque dish…Milk-fed Lamb, Croquette of lamb sweetbreads, vitelote chips.

Clean cut.

Seabass, shrimp, lemongrass. A whole lot of going on here.

Cheese platter

After-Eight

Macaroon and Cannelé Bordelais (French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. The dessert, which is in the shape of small, cylinder, is a specialty of the Bordeaux region)

Upon exiting the restaurant, its logo. L’Oiseau Bleu (the blue bird)

The meal had its ups and downs, but the area I really liked, as it reminded me of a somewhat-Brooklyn type place. More alternative, a more ‘cool’ quarter to hang out in in the near future.

The streets of Capucins-Victoire neighborhood holds numerous cafes and bars alongside divine food that is paired perfectly with the fabulous wine of Bordeaux.

Thank god for foie gras! A specialty of the region…

In Bordeaux’s Rue Saint-Remi, you’ll find back to back regional restaurants, packed during the week and especially the weekend which offer reasonable set menus.

Just my like, I tried one restaurant where the dinner menu was set at 19,80 euros for a 3-course meal. But none of that, small portion stuff, here you come hungry…very hungry!

The accompaniment…

Great vintage table decor!

To start…

Boudin Noir (Blood Sausage)

Salade de Magret, Foie et Gesiers (Duck salad)

Main dishes…if the entrees weren’t enough!

Stew of beef cheek…Nice to warm you up! Thick, rich sauce, yum!

Brochette of meat

Dessert

Bordeaux feast!

If you’ve lived or visited Europe, you know that usually Sundays are pretty dead. Locals shut their shops, restaurants to enjoy a day for themselves. Lucky for me, every sunday, a large market opens to the public, along the river, making it a great opportunity to sample some local delights as you shop!

You’ve got your local oysters, which you buy by the plate, 6 euros to be exact!

Just grab a bottle of artisanal wine, from the stand next door, and enjoy your Sunday.

Nuts and dried fruits

 
 The local charcuterie…sausages and more! Wild Boar, Duck, Foie and Duck, Porc and nuts, Pork and Roquefort…
 
 

Don’t forget more foie gras!

Apple juice..but not just any apple juice. Freshly made, without preservatives or sugar…Naturally sweet!

Roast chicken stand

Cheese lovers rejoice. A woman had a cheese stand, all made by her from her farm with various flavors, herbs and condiments to the cheese. They kind of look like soap, from this angle. But just like art. 

Here’s a glimpse of a couple of goat cheeses

Great country bread. The queue was the longest here.

For dessert, cannelés bordelais, at 50 cents a piece.

If you are more the wine connoisseur, then you too, have come to the right place. Bordeaux itself first became associated with wine in the first century A.D., and is best known today for its incredible vintages.

Vinorama is a museum and showcase devoted to wine. There are also numerous wine museums near Bordeaux, such as the Private Museum of Wine in Art in Pauillac. There’s even lessons you can take at the Bordeaux Wine School.

A great way to try different wines that Bordeaux offers is in a wine bar. DUH! Here, at Aux Quatre Coins du Vin (Four corners of wine), it’s self service; you are given a card with say, 20 euros, and you can drink any of the wines offered until the 20 euros run out! Very cool, very modern and very sleek.

The wine machine. You can choose from 3 sizes: tasting, half glass or full glass.

Finally, Bordeaux is a gateway for wine chateaux. Though the season starts in April, some chateaux are still open for visits and tours, as well as degustation.

This time around I paid a visit up north to the St. Emilion and Pomerol regions. St. Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a charming medieval town with impressive underground galleries and catacombs.

Another pit stop: Pomerol

A sneak peek at some chateaux along the way..

Finally, I could not, not stock up on great wine, but I bought mine to keep and reserve for the next 5 years…Usually tourists miss Bordeaux and head straight for the vineyards that lie within an hour’s reach. But this city is definitely not to be missed as it shares more history and more action, if you will. For example, did you know that you could go to vinotherapie (wine therapy spas)? I bet you didn’t.

Bordeaux is, quite simply, luscious, lively and lovely.

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