Adieu Bordeaux

June in Bordeaux was a delight. We had a full agenda every week and we experienced a great deal of what the city offered.
The city is built in a crescent moon shape following the Garonne River and is known as Bordeaux, the ‘Port of the Moon’. It is located 300 miles Southwest of Paris.
There are magnificently restored 18th-century limestone buildings at the city’s center to feast your eyes on. (Although hundreds more could be restored back to their original beauty by cleaning off the gray/black pollution) In 2007, Bordeaux, “the sleeping beauty”, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The distinct architectural style is throughout the city and it seems we were constantly looking up. The relief work or sculpted elements on the buildings were our favorite parts.

The Bourse Maritime building

We found peaceful public gardens to explore, historical monuments to educate ourselves and contemporary art installations to admire throughout the city. We visited permanent and temporary exhibitions in museums and browsed through notable art galleries. One of our favorite squares was the grand Place de la Bourse with the Three Graces fountain in the center and, across from it, the ever entertaining Miroir d’Eau (Water Mirror). It is a 37,000 foot square black granite water feature that provides hours of entertainment. The reflections in the 2 cm of water – draining and refilling every half-hour –- are stunning. A dense fog-like vapor is also ejected every 23 minutes to add to the fun. Children and adults alike play in it as it brings the child out in each of us.

The Place de la Bourse Water Mirror

Bordeaux has an ancient beautiful coat of arms with castles and lions and fleurs de lys, but we particularly liked this newer shield created in the mid 17th century made of three intertwining crescent shapes. We were told a variety of meanings from interlocking rivers to croissants to romantic entanglements. Whatever the story, it is a cool design.

The symbol of Bordeaux

Other favorite destinations were the Roman ruins called Palais Gallien, the Grand Théâtre – which is the Opera house, the Grosse Cloche and the Porte Cailhau – two of the six remaining old gates to the city. Pont de Pierre was beautiful, especially when one particular sunset turned it fiery gold. Rue Sainte-Catherine, touted as the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe, although we loved it for its architecture and finally the gorgeous Monument to the Girondins with the statues in the fountains.

Palais Gallien

In general, France seemed to us to focus on quality of ingredients, their presentation and art. All three can be seen in the displays in patisseries, candy & chocolate shops and the fruit & vegetable markets. The fresh fruits and vegetables we purchased in the corner markets were incredibly flavorful and perfectly ripe. Fragrant flowers, elegantly displayed, are also abundant reminding us of the Pacific Northwest.

Flowers beside the Grand Theater

And we cannot forget wine, as we have blogged previously, Bordeaux is primarily known for its fantastic wines and wine industry and continues to be the world’s major wine industry capital. Wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century. Bordeaux now has about (116,160 hectares) 287,000 acres of vineyards, 57 appellations, 10,000 wine-producing châteaux and 13,000 grape growers. With an annual production of approximately 960 million bottles, Bordeaux produces large quantities of everyday wine as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world.
We were enamored by this city in France and the surrounding areas we visited.

Wine Cellar

One final note: We attended Spanish language classes for 2 months in Valencia. Upon arriving in France we tried to resurrect our nearly forgotten high school French. Our poor brains and tongues were constantly confused. Even though we knew the correct word to use we kept saying ‘si’ instead of ‘oui’ for days after our arrival.
We are now headed back to explore more of Spain and are hoping to continue to improve our Spanish language skills.

As we say Adieu to Bordeaux we think of the wonderful churches and museums we visited. Bordeaux is truly a beautiful city that has a lot to offer. Here are links to our photos from the churches and museums we visited.

Église Notre Dame

The Notre-Dame church in Bordeaux is an excellent, late 17th-century example of Baroque architecture. Built by the Dominicans to complement their large monastery, it has an impressive façade.

Click (here) for photos and information

Saint-Marie de la Bastide

The construction of the neo-medieval church Sainte-Marie de La Bastide was completed in 1887. The architect had to face many technical problems related to the nature of the quality of the peat soil. The church and bell tower were built upon wooden piles distributing the load over the unstable ground.

Click (here) for photos and information

Église Saint-Croix

The Church of the Holy Cross was built in the late 11th century and is attached to an even older Benedictine abbey believed to have been founded around 450, on a rise of land, named Eau Bourde.

Click (here) for photos and information

Musée de Beaux Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts in Bordeaux was established in 1801 by the painter Pierre Lacour and today is one of the largest art galleries in France outside Paris.

Click (here) for photos and information

Musée Aquitaine

The Museum of Aquitaine is a collection of objects and documents from the history of Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region.

Click (here) for photos and information

Musée National des Douanes

The National Customs Museum is a national museum of customs located at the Place de la Bourse. The building was built in the 18th century to hold a rich and varied collection of the history of the customs brigade and its administration.

Click (here) for photos and information

Musée des Arts decorative et du Design

The “Musée des Arts decorative et du Design” is housed in the impressive Hôtel de Lalande. The Hôtel de Lalande is a remarkable example of a house belonging to the Bordeaux aristocracy and enhances the artworks exhibited therein.

Click (here) for photos and information

Wine and Trade Museum

The Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum opened in June 2008. In three underground cellars, the museum presents a collection of unique objects, representing both the past and the present wine trade.

Click (here) for photos and information

La Cite du Vin Museum

The City of Wine in Bordeaux is a museum and exhibition center that focuses on the theme of wine, the wine industry and wine culture. Opened in 2016, the City of Wine is an interesting center entirely dedicated to wine.

Click (here) for photos and information

Santé from these Bordelais,
Ted & Julia

(click on any picture to go to slideshow view)

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