During our trip to Paris, we wanted to venture outside of the city for a quick overnight trip. There are several destinations within a 2 hour train ride — Lyon, Strasbourg — but as Adam fancies himself a red wine connoisseur, we decided to check out Bordeaux.
HOW TO GET THERE
We took a high speed train out of Paris directly to Bordeaux which made what would have been a 5 hour drive an easy 2 hour train ride. Our train was at the crack of dawn, but it could have been an opportunity to grab a couple more hours of sleep had we not been in the same car as an impressively energetic school group.
Once there, we ended up Uber-ing to the center of town rather than using our limited time in Bordeaux to figure out their public transportation system. We were told more than once, however, that it’s easy to use and efficient. Next time.
WHAT TO DO
If we had been staying in Bordeaux for more than a day, we probably would have rented a car to do our own vineyard tour at a leisurely pace and perhaps even stayed at a chateau, but on this trip we were aiming for a straight forward way to get a taste of the wine country. We booked a half day wine tour through Bordeaux Tourism that took us to two chateaux, as they call their vineyards, with tastings and tours at each. The chateaux visited varies by day, but on our trip it was two within the Medoc region. I wouldn’t say we got an intimate experience at either, but we certainly learned quite a bit about wine making within Bordeaux and tasted some fantastic red wine.
While we didn’t have time to visit the Cité du Vin, the new wine museum, it came highly recommended from several people we talked to. We just happened to visit on such a gorgeous day that it seemed silly to spend our time inside.
We did spend an hour or so in the Bordeaux city center, but I would say that unless you’re in the mood for some generic shopping, I would grab lunch then get out to the wine country. It’s a cute area but not worth spending extended time there if you’re on a tight schedule.
WHERE TO EAT
After a bit of research on where to eat in Bordeaux, we ended up making a reservation for dinner at Côte Rue. This meal was without a doubt our best meal of the trip, and perhaps one of the best meals of my life. Inventive course after beautifully plated inventive course in a large white room with gorgeous moulding along the ceiling and a few elegantly placed large works of modern art made for an epic several hour dining experience. A salmon macaron is something I certainly would never have ordered myself, but I’m now sold on savory macarons.
We grabbed breakfast in the morning at a local bakery, and while I don’t recall the name, I’d imagine you can find a similar place full of buttery, flaky delights on any block in Bordeaux.
WHERE TO STAY
Again in Bordeaux, we took to Airbnb. We stayed in a sunny, minimalist apartment that was close to the center of town. Completely by chance, it was actually just a 5 minute walk to the restaurant where we ate dinner. I cannot say enough about how stunning this apartment was and how quintessentially French the view was. A top floor apartment, it was filled with skylights and, the phrase I’ve coined to describe my own style, antiques and Ikea. It was worldly but sleek, and totally comfortable.
There is an Intercontinental Hotel in the area that had been recommended to us by a friend and fellow blogger, but it was completely booked the night we were in town. If we return, we may need to check it out as the rooms look absolutely over the top.
I had read that Bordeaux is perhaps the most “French” city that remains in France, and I will not dispute that assertion for a second.
On the negative side, Bordeaux was the only place in France that we encountered anyone that fit the French stereotype of cold and rude, and we encountered it more than once during our 24 hour stay.
Bordeaux also seemed to move at a slightly less hurried pace than Paris. It’s a far bigger city than we expected, but it doesn’t feel like an international hub of business at all. It was the only place we also ran into language barriers as everyone in Paris spoke English (we always tried French first!) The city is a bit dirty, a bit rough around the edges, but charmingly beautiful, and we would absolutely return.