I had such a great weekend spent in the city of Bordeaux!! I was there with Anna, Jack, and Sarah and we drank lots of wine as we tried to not to get too wet while walking around this amazing city.
Bordeaux is 4 hours south of Nantes but still near the West coast of France on the Garonne River. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region and it’s one of the world’s major wine producers (they’ve been producing wine since the 8th century).
Jack, Sarah, and I left Nantes early Friday morning and it somehow worked out that mine and Jack’s tickets happened to be across from each other and Sarah (who somehow ended up with a ticket without a seating assignment) found an unreserved seat right next to us! As soon as we got to the train station in Bordeaux, we were greeted by Jack’s “uni mates” aka friends from school in Manchester who are studying in Bordeaux. They helped us find our hostel and took us on a walk around the city. Bordeaux is SO pretty! It reminded us so much of Paris and apparently when Baron Haussmann redesigned Paris, he used Bordeaux as an example so that makes sense. It is definitely much bigger than Nantes and wayyy more touristy.
We picked up supplies for dinner and ate with Jack’s friends then went to pick up Anna from the train station (she had to work on Friday…boo!) and went to Jack’s friend’s apartment complex for a Sangria surprise birthday party with a bunch of Erasmus students! Since there were Germans and Spanish people in addition to our English friends, it was a great opportunity to practice our French and meet a lot of interesting people. We had so much fun and got to drink authentic sangria made by real Spanish people! Unfortunately, we had to leave before we really wanted to because we needed to catch the tram, which is never a worry for Anna and me in Nantes since we live right in the center, but we made more friends and practiced our French with our fellow late-night tram riders.
So- the wine tour we wanted to go on would’ve been a half day trip to a popular vineyard outside of the city of Bordeaux but it was fully booked for this weekend so instead, the tourist office suggested a couple places to taste wine within the city. Our first stop was the Musee de Vin where we learned about the history of the wine trade in Bordeaux and then tried a white and a red wine from the region. Both were really good and we learned the proper way to smell/swirl the wine and why people do that! We then went to Chateau Luchey-Halde which is a vineyard just on the outskirts of the city. And as was typical of most of the weekend, it was raining so we opted out of the actual vineyard tour since the grapes have already been harvested and we still had a good view of the vineyard so why get drenched? At this tour, we learned a little more about the actual process of turning grapes into wine and toured the factory and barrels. At this tasting, we tried two of their reds and one white. We then trekked back to the tram stop (not raining!) to go back into the city to see the Saint-Andre Cathedrale and have a coffee before the next tasting.
We stumbled upon an American style coffee shop! I finally had a latte!
For our last wine tasting, we met up again with Jack’s friends and went to a wine shop in the city which was super fancy. This time we really only got two sips of each wine but we tried three different reds ranging in price from 20 to 60 euros I think. He also gave us cheese and chocolate to accompany our tastings!
With Jack’s friends we headed to an English pub and enjoyed some pints before grabbing a late dinner at a place called Fast Fried Chicken…
On Sunday, we tried to check off things on our touristy list. We headed over to the Musee des Beaux Arts first. I was really excited since the art museum in Nantes was really disappointing because the main museum is closed until 2018 and I had heard good things about the art in Bordeaux. Welp, this one was closed too! Instead, we went to a temporary exhibition which showcased pieces from a private collector which was a bit small but a little more interesting than the exhibition in Nantes. For lunch we found a Ramen bar…yummy! And then we met up with one of Jack’s friends and went up to the top of Tour Pey-Berland for a great view of Bordeaux. After that was the Musee d’Aquitaine which showcases the history of the region…it wasn’t super interesting and it involved a lot of rocks and bones and what not.
We finally ate a cannele, a Bordeaux specialty custard/cake thing, at the train station and after another four hour, uneventful train ride we made it back to Nantes. Home sweet home. Since today was Armistice Day (aka Veteran’s day) we had the day off! Back to school tomorrow to start off my birthday week!!