Day 2 Jun29


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Day 2

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Explore Bordeaux City
Brilliant morning. From our 2nd floor window we see a rush of people, autos, bicycles and tram traffic bustling through the city.

8 am buffet breakfast Hotel de Normandie go dining room
Hotel’s breakfast buffet riches: scrambled eggs, local sausage, yogurt, croissants, bread, fresh and dried fruit,  a variety of cereals, juices, cold meats, cheeses, and best of all, good coffee – but no lingering over a second cup.


9 am ride Bordeaux tram lines go
Turns out the tram is literally right in front of the hotel. We ride the tram to discover different parts of the city. Convenient and easy to use, the tram never goes below ground so you always know where you are. Ride it to see the outskirts or get around the city center but look both ways when crossing tracks – they are so quiet you may not hear their approach.

We pass the row of handsome, well preserved 18th century buildings lining the waterfront’s wide promenade with wonderful views in all directions. Old riverside warehouses have new uses – discount shopping, water front dining and shops – all easily accessible by tram. We decide to ride Tram line B all the way to its end. University of Bordeaux is on the B line; it is so large (75,000 students), its sprawling campus requires 7 tram stops to provide service.

1 pm do it yourself lunch at hotel
The day is flying by, so to gain time, at UB stop #3 we hop off the tram to shop for lunch fixings at a local Simply Market Supermarché, jump on the next tram, return to the city center and have lunch in our hotel room.

2 pm Bordeaux city walking tour with Bordeaux guide go
We meet our very experienced guide, Christine Birem, at the Bordeaux tourist center and set off on a 2 hour walking tour. She helps us identify landmarks, understand the architecture, and appreciate the preserved remnants of previous decades. Often converted to new uses, one former church is now the Utopia – an art movie theatre, another church is now used as an apartment house. A stone cross and fountain are the only remains of the 14th century cemetery buried beneath a popular square.

Bordeaux, originally a Gallo-Roman port, had become the most important port in France by the 18th century, filled with wealthy residents. As testimony to its prosperity, the medieval town was transformed into a city with great squares, large avenues, splendid buildings and gardens. As a crossroads for international trade, Bordeaux was a multi-racial melting-pot, evidenced by the “mascarons” gracing the buildings. Unlike the traditional 16th century Italian depictions of animals and creatures from Greek mythology Bordeaux’s stone faces represent ordinary or wealthy middle-class people, Turks in turban, Chinese and Africans.

Today, Bordeaux, a World Heritage site, is the second most popular tourist destination in France after Paris.  Smaller than Paris but resembling it in all the ways that matter, the city is vibrant, exciting and beautiful. Walking slowly through the city we marvel at the grandeur of Opera National and the Eglise Notre Dame la Grande before  strolling the main shopping street where luxury items, posh shops and famous Paris design houses have regional stores.

A three level shopping mall is the place to go for all things food related. We watch “canneles de Bordeaux“, the famous little cakes being made, and try a sample. Cathedrale St. Andre and the bell tower, Tower of Pey-Berland, are remarkable. Climb to the top of the Tower for unique views. We walk to Porte Cailhau, previously the Royal gate to the Medieval city and Pont de Pierrre, the first bridge built (1819-22). Some eating,

There are lots of people, all colors, all ages and everywhere they are enjoying themselves. Some eating, some dancing, others selling, buying, shopping, walking , talking, siting in the shade or in a café – the vibe is energetic, cheerful, and colorful.

8 pm dinner Brasserie l’Orléans go
The hotel desk clerk recommends this restaurant right near our hotel. Turns out pretty well. It’s a typical French brasserie, immediately welcoming, with pristine white tablecloths, plenty of space between the tables and a smartly dressed waiter who almost spoke English. A shared order of Arachon Bay oysters on the half shell, the evening special, a seafood pasta, French bread, excellent local white wine complete another great day. Ask the waiter for a tour of the unique underground wine caves. Many of the well known Chateaux have private lockers. Pretty cool to see.

stay Hotel de Normandie go
The moon is up so we leave the drapes open and fall asleep to moonlight.

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