When you think of Bordeaux, wine always comes into mind. It’s the hub of the largest wine-growing region of France with a total vineyard area of 120,000 hectares. Bordeaux wine is made by more than 8,000 producers with an average of 700 million bottles of wine produced every year. So for someone who’s not a wine drinker like me, why did I even think of going to Bordeaux for my birthday weekend? Three reasons – food, architecture and Saint-Emilion.
I am very adventurous when it comes to food and I always try local dishes whenever I travel. I do believe that food makes up a huge percentage of the experience you get out of the new destination you’re visiting. Through food, you get to know the area’s tradition, culture and you understand a place much better. The main ingredient in almost every dishes everywhere in the world is meat – be it pork or beef or chicken, this can be prepared, cooked and seasoned different ways depending on the place that you’re in. The local ingredients available to where you are highly affects the preparation of a dish. The weather and location also has an influence as to what kinds of dishes are popular in the area. So more than satisfying your hunger, you can learn a lot about a place through the local dishes they serve and I highly recommend for anyone to get out of your comfort zone and be as adventurous as you can be when you’re traveling. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, as they say. 🙂
Bordeaux is without a doubt a haven for foodies (apart from the wine drinkers), the food scene has taken center stage in this city with so many restaurants offering haute cuisine dishes in fancy restaurants to your down-to-earth bistrots offering a cozier atmosphere with dishes whipped out from recipes handed down from one generation to the next. Sadly, we only stayed for two nights so the local dishes we were able to try were quite limited but I feel like the ones that I was able to try were the most important dishes of Bordeaux, at least for me. 🙂
Entrecote A La Bordelaise
With Bordeaux’s red wine growing fame, it’s only right that their most famous dish is beef. To make it really traditional, the beef must be local grass-and-grain-fed grilled over vine shoots then served with a special sauce made from red wine, bone marrow and herbs. It’s always served with a side of fries cooked in beef fat. If that didn’t make you hungry, I don’t know what will.
Where we had it: Brasseris L’Orleans
With the Atlantic beaches only 65km away from Bordeaux, it is no surprise that one of the food they’re famous for is oysters – much to the Greek Mister’s and my delight. Archachon Bay is only an hour away from Bordeaux where cultivation of oysters dates back to the 19th century. We feasted on more than a dozen oysters on our last day in Bordeaux and it was the best end of our weekend holiday for sure.
Where we had it: Le Plana
The origin of canales can also be attributed to the wine-growing process famous in Bordeaux. Egg whites are used in the process of fining wine in Bordeaux and a bright mind thought of using the egg yolks into something useful and edible instead of throwing it away, et voila! Canales came into existence. It’s a vanilla and rum flavored pastry which is a bit burnt and caramelised on the outside with a gooey custard inside. It’s amazing! You should definitely try it! 🙂
Where we had it: From one of the Baillardran shops in Bordeaux.
Note: I am aware that the photo above is not of canales but unfortunately, I was unable to take a photo of it so instead I’m just giving you a photo of a charcuterie. 🙂
I loved walking around the streets of Bordeaux because its architecture fascinates me. I’m not trying to pretend to be extremely cultured to admire architecture but I do love taking photos and the streets of Bordeaux are extremely photogenic. It’s nice to just walk around and to get lost in the many alleyways of the city which almost always ends up in a pretty square filled with restaurants, cafes or bars with outdoor seating. We were extremely lucky that it was sunny and warm while we were there so walking around was pleasant and wasn’t a hassle.
A few of my favorite places in Bordeaux are the following:
Place de la Comedie is where The Grand Theatre is which is the most imposing building in the area. The Greek Mister got quite excited to see the nine columns used in this building which represents the nine muses and the goddesses Venus, Juno and Minerva. The interior of the building is also impressive with a grand staircase, painted ceiling and elaborate chandelier. Unfortunately you can only go inside if you're on a tour or if you're attending a show. There's quite a few cafes and bars around the area and I did enjoy just sitting there and watch the world go by.
Often referred to as the longest shopping street in Europe, Rue Sainte-Catherine is a 1,250m-long street lined with more than 250 shops. It's nice just to walk around even if you're not really going to buy anything but I'd avoid it during Saturdays and Sundays, it was too crowded. Lol. Disclaimer: The photo above isn't from Rue Saint-Catherine, I just realized now that I actually didn't take a photo of that pretty pedestrianized shopping street. Silly me.
The Greek Mister called it the smurfs, lol. He's more uncultured than I am so pardon his ignorance. The beautiful monument of Porte Cailhau was built to commemorate Charles VIII's victory in Italy. It was integrated into the city walls and although the walls are no longer existing now, the monument remains unchanged since the 14th century. You can go up to the tower to get a view of Bordeaux but the cafes nearby was much more enticing for me at that time so I just stayed there under the warmth of the sun. :p
And to enjoy the view of Bordeaux from above, nothing can beat the view you'll get from Intercontinental Bordeaux's Night Beach. Beware though, there's a huge price to pay. We paid EUR25 for a glass of diet coke and a glass of mojito. The view's great though specially during sunset. 🙂
I loved this street - Cours de l'Intendance, it was what welcomed us as soon as we got off the bus from the airport and I was impressed right away. In past centuries, mansions of Bordeaux's richest were on this street. It's also famous as where Goya (the Spanish artist) spent the last 4 years of his life and during his stay, he produced priceless pieces including "The Milkmaid of Bordeaux".
Esplanade des Quinconces was just a 2-min walk from our hotel, there was a fair during the time that we were in Bordeaux so it was a lot more festive when we walked around it on our first night after dinner. The spectacular Monument aux Girondins is an elaborate structure which pays homage to the Girondins political group who were overpowered and executed by their rivals. It's absolutely lovely at night. 🙂
Bordeaux at Night
Bordeaux becomes a lot more livelier and lovelier at night. We were there during the weekend so that should explain the crowd in almost all of the squares that we passed by. I love people watching while sipping on a cocktail and Bordeaux is the right place to do just that.
I have to admit, the only reason why we went to Bordeaux for the weekend was because I wanted to see the beautiful Saint-Emilion. I actually considered skipping Bordeaux altogether and just spend the whole 2 nights in Saint-Emilion but I’m glad I didn’t because I would’ve missed the beauty of Bordeaux.
Saint-Emilion is a medieval village with a picture-perfect scenery. It is a 30-min train ride away from Bordeaux so a day tour is very much feasible. Exploring its underground attractions and learning more about its history made my visit all the more interesting. I fell in love with it as soon as I laid my eyes on it. 🙂
Read more about our day trip to Saint-Emilion here.
I hope this post somehow made you want to visit the beautiful Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion, my photos didn’t do justice to how pretty these places actually are. 🙂