Bordeaux is an elegant city on the Garonne river which would appeal to many: from wine-sippers to gastronomes to architecture lovers. And the city is highly walkable, meaning you can enjoy much of Bordeaux’s wonders on foot.
We stayed in the centre of the UNESCO-protected 18th century old town and relished in the relaxed yet lively pace of the city. Though Bordeaux has an air of sophistication, there is a large student population that gives the city a pulsing energy.
We strolled along the Garonne waterfront (“Port of the Moon”) and luxuriated in the sun. Many beautiful buildings line the embankment, with Mirror d’Eau being a highlight. This reflecting pool, only 2 cm deep, is the largest in the world. The mist turns on every 15 minutes, covering a giant slab of granite in a fine film of water – just enough to reflect the stunning buildings bordering the Place de la Bourse like a mirror.
We joined the many others cooling their feet in the water, already overheated from our many steps through the city. This was also a hit with our daughter, who loved splashing in water just at her level.
From there we wandered into the Place des Quinconces, a 31 acre city square that is the largest in France. Again due to the heat, we welcomed the shade of the large towering trees as we strolled through the monument-adorned plaza.
Once we were ready to brave the sun again, we meandered down Rue Sainte-Catherine, the longest shopping street in Europe. The 3/4 mile street is an eclectic mix of expensive and affordable stores, cafes, and restaurants. We found ourselves on this path often, as every street we took seemed to transect Rue Sainte-Catherine at one point or another.
Bordeaux wines command respect around the world, and a visit wouldn’t be complete without touring the wine region itself. Medoc, Saint Emilion, Sauternes, and Pomerol to name a few.
Many wine tours have to be booked in advance, with many prestigious Premier Cru vineyards only open to professionals. We visited the Chateau Gruaud Larose in Saint-Julien, and were pleased to have a tour with just the three of us.
At the end of the tour we sat in an elegant sunny room, adorned with old world furniture, and tasted glass after glass of bold red wine. The sommelier gave us varying vintages of the same wine, allowing us to appreciate the affect of time and circumstance on each grape.
And it seemed our daughter didn’t take too long to make herself comfortable in the grand tasting room either!