A much-needed weekend in Bordeaux was what my birthday celebration was. I’ve been feeling (wayyy) under the weather the past couple of days and I felt like being properly away from work to explore an entirely new destination was what I needed to feel better. Needless to say, I actually do feel a lot better now after that short trip, I guess I have a serious case of travel bug and I do need to take a trip every two months to function properly. :-p
Special occasions are always a good excuse to travel isn’t it? So for my birthday this year, we decided to go to Bordeaux and explore the nearby Saint-Emilion. Many of you may know by now that I’m not a fan of cities when I travel so the fact that the pretty little village of Saint-Emilion is only a 30-min train ride away from Bordeaux helped me with my decision to go to Bordeaux this year.
Traveling from Bordeaux Airport to City Centre
We arrived at 1055hrs in Bordeaux’s Billi Airport via Easyjet’s 1hr and 45mins flight from London Gatwick. From Billi Airport, we walked towards the main airport and bought bus tickets for Line 1. You do have the option to take a direct bus which gets you to the city centre in 30mins and will cost you EUR7.40 per person. We’re cheap and not in a hurry so we opted for the Line 1 bus which got us to city centre in 45mins and we only had to pay EUR1.40 per person. 🙂
We booked a 2-night stay in Hotel Majestic, a 4-star property in the heart of Bordeaux. The location was perfect, extremely convenient specially if you’re staying in Bordeaux for only a short period of time as it’s quite easy to walk from this hotel to almost all the major sights in the city. It’s also close to a lot of restaurants so we didn’t include breakfast in our hotel reservation. I just can’t justify paying EUR15 per person for a continental breakfast when I can pay less than that if I decide to have breakfast outside the hotel. There’s a lot of cafes nearby and also some small bakeries. At night, you can also just walk around within the vicinity of the hotel and you’ll be able to easily find places to go to spend the night in for food and drinks without the hassle of taking public transportation.
Getting Around Bordeaux
Bordeaux is an extremely easy city to get around as public transportation is easily available although everytime we took it, it was always packed. Trams, buses and even river ferries are available and each ride will cost you EUR1.40 per person no matter where you’re going. If you think you’ll be taking public transportation multiple times in a day then it’s better to get the day pass which gives you unlimited public transportation access for EUR4.60. Tickets can be bought from ticket machines or directly from the bus driver.
Bordeaux is famous for its wine but I wasn’t there for it (because I’m not really into wines) but for the food instead. :-p I like trying local cuisines whenever I travel, I’m very adventurous when it comes to food so I don’t have any problems going out of my comfort zone to try somethig new. Bordeaux is famous for its entrecote a la bordelaise which is a rib steak cooked in a special gravy made from Bordeaux wine. We tried it in a restaurant near our hotel and we’re expecting that we will be blown away by it. Sadly, it was quite underwhelming for us – there really wasn’t special about the dish itself, not even the gravy. That or maybe we just didn’t go to a good restaurant which serves it.
On our second night, we had tapas in a small tapas bar called Les Bistros des Frerots along Rue Piliers de Tutelle. I must admit that the only reason why we went there was because it looked similar to the tapas bar Anthony Bourdain went to when he was in Spain. Lol. It was a very good choice though as the quality of meat served in their charcuterie board was superb and I also had a good French wine here.
Being near the Atlantic ocean, seafood is also abundant here specifically oysters. Ahhh! Oysters, the Greek Mister and myself splurged on our last day and feasted on oysters in a restaurant called Le Plana. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough as it was the best restaurant we’ve had a pleasure of eating in while in Bordeaux. The oysters and the shrimps were both the highlight of our meal, normally the Greek Mister won’t eat shrimps as it’s too much work for him but he devoured what was served to us.
I do highly recommend that you try canneles de bordeaux, a rum and vanilla-based French pastry served as dessert in almost every restaurants you can find in the city. I’m not into sweets but as I’ve said, I do like to try something local whenever I travel and this was definitely worth all the calories. The crust is caramelised and the center is filled with custard. I bought a box of it from the airport for my colleagues and let’s just say that I ate most of it. Lol.
Note: Do make sure that you check the timings of the restaurant you’re going to in Bordeaux as some of the restaurants are closed for siesta, between 2:30pm to 7pm.
Things To Do
Bordeaux is a historic city which is great to just walk around in, the cultural and art scene is vibrant and is evident on the many monuments, architecture, towers, museums and churches dotted around. I loved getting lost in the many small alleyways of the city and discovering a new square at the end of it. There are so many plazas surrounded by cafes, restaurants and bars – you will never run out of places to go to specially at night when you just want to sit somewhere with a drink and watch the merriment of people around you.
If shopping is your therapy then Rue Saint-Catherine is a must for you to visit. The 1,250m long street is offten referred to as the longest shopping street in Europe with over 250 stores to shop from. The street is fully pedestrianized so there’s less hassle for you when you’re wandering around from shop to shop.
I do highly recommend a day trip to Saint-Emilion while in Bordeaux. It’s only a 30-min train ride away from Gare St Jean in Bordeaux and it’s definitely and absolutely a must! It’s a small and quaint medieval village surrounded by vineyards. It’s a picture-perfect place!
So how much did we spend for a weekend in Bordeaux? I have to admit, it was quite an expensive city to visit – much expensive than London. We immediately realized that when we saw the price of a pint of beer in the first cafe that we went to, it was EUR9 for a pint and here we are in London complaining about a EUR4.50 price for it. Lol. Anyway, here’s a breakdown of how much we actually spent for this trip:
- EUR198.00 for an Easyjet return flight from London Gatwick with 1 checked-in luggage.
- EUR269.00 for two nights stay in Hotel Majestic.
- EUR11.00 for a pint of beer and a cup of hot chocolate at Cave a Vin.
- EUR10.00 for a pint of beer and a bottle of coke zero at Les Freres Cailloux.
- EUR25.00 for a glass of mojito and a glass of coke zero at Night Beach, Intercontinental Bordeaux. That is the most expensive mojito and coke zero I’ve ever had in my entire life.
- EUR60.90 dinner at Brasserie L’Orleans – two entrecotes, two diet cokes and a pint of beer.
- EUR42.00 for 3 glasses of Ballantine’s and 2 glasses of Bailey’s at Brasserie Utopia.
I’ll be writing more about our weekend in Bordeaux in much more detail in the next coming blog posts. I actually can’t wait to write about Saint-Emilion which ultimately became the highlight of our trip for me.