Driving, Not Walking
Now that we’ve moved down to the Bordeaux area, the one big thing that’s changed for us since leaving Paris is that we have a car. The small Bordeaux town of Margaux that we are based in really doesn’t have many amenities so getting around the area is only practical by driving. But there’s one really big downside to this.
In Paris we were walking at least 5 Km per day and up and down the stairs in the subway was a great way to burn off all of those croissants and rich dinners that we would typically be eating every day. Before you ask, not eating croissants and rich food every day just isn’t an option. I think that it’s some kind of law in France that requires this.
Anyway, the point that I was getting at is here in Bordeaux we are eating pretty much the same as in Paris but no longer walking everywhere. In many ways I’m looking forward to Tuesday where we drop off the car then move on to our next destination and return to doing a lot more walking.
Yesterday we spent most of the day in the city of Bordeaux. It’s interesting that when we arrived in the city at the train station on Wednesday from Paris our impression was fairly negative as it looked like a fairly dirty, unimpressive small town that would hold no interest for us. What we’ve come to learn is that this description has some truth to it but mostly in the area around the train station.
Bordeaux is actually a fairly large city of several hundred thousand people and (in the area away from the train station) is very beautiful with interesting architecture and a board walk along the Garrone River.
We walked through Bordeaux city for most of the day and spent much of our time in the pedestrian-only streets where much of the stores are and it seemed like most of the population of the city was there as well. It was literally shoulder to shoulder with people walking through these streets. I left Bordeaux with a really positive impression and would have liked to have stayed here for more than just a few hours.
It’s the Wine
Of course when you think of Bordeaux, the region , the first thing that you will likely think about is wine. And for good reason – there’s vineyards everywhere. We had an opportunity to taste several different local wines (and wines from the Margaux area where we are staying are considered some of the best in Bordeaux), I can honestly say that I’ve had some of the best wines that I’ve ever had in this past week. In fact, several of those bottles are now in our suitcase with us for the return trip home.
It’s Not the Dunes
So if it’s the wines that you think of when you think of Bordeaux, it’s definitely not the sand dunes. Yet one of the most fascinating things that we have seen in the Bordeaux area is just that. Known as the Dune du Pilat, it is located right next to the Atlantic coastline near the town of La-Teste-de-Buch in southwest France.
Driving to the dunes you go through a forested area and you would naturally think that the last thing that you would expect to see is a huge sand dune. Even when you park your car it’s still forested but after walking down a small path this incredibly tall sand dune appears almost out of nowhere. The dune is over 100 metres tall and a large staircase to assist walking to the top is the most prominent feature that draws your attention. From the top of the dunes the views are incredible. If you are in the Bordeaux area, the Dune du Pilat should be considered a must-see area.
I’ve posted additional pictures of the dunes on my photo web site.
It’s Tuesday now and we have moved on from Bordeaux (our suitcases heavy with our maximum amount of wine that we can purchase) and we have moved on the city of Cannes in the south east corner of France along the CÃ´te d’Azur which of course is right at the coast of the Mediterranean.
Perhaps best know for the Cannes Film Festival at which time of the year the whole city becomes hugely crowded, Cannes at this time of year is far less busy and almost certainly more enjoyable to spend time at a leisurely pace.
We arrived in Cannes on Tuesday afternoon and checked into our hotel that has a great view of the harbour. We only had a few hours on the first day to walk around and we discovered that we are very centrally located with lots of stores and restaurants within a few blocks of our hotel.
Last night for dinner we wanted to have a seafood meal given the prominence of this type of food in this area. We seemed to have quite a few choices and decided on a place called Le Rendez-Vous Restaurant. Barb and I had the same idea of what we wanted to have for or first night here: bouillabaisse (pronounced: booya-base). Bouillabaisse is a fish soup but just using those two words to describe what may well be the most delicious soup ever made is criminal. The heart of bouillabaisse is the broth which often takes several days to prepare. The bouillabaisse at Le Rendez-Vous was definitely top notch and was a great start to our few days in Cannes.
More to come in my final chapter of our Excellent France Adventure 4.0.