Here a month, there a month. Europe 2011 travel blog

Bordeaux National Theatre

There's a choo-choo there somewhere

Fresh oysters

Old tower, new tram

Still dressed for October

Still there, still good!

Marilyn’s Musings

The trip is winding down. We are in gorgeous Bordeaux for a couple of days before we jump on a train for another couple of days in Paris and then home. In my mind, we just left on this trip; my credit card reminds me that I am dreaming!

The trip from San Sebastian (in pouring rain most of the way) was another four hour trip, so by the time we checked in at the Royal St. Jean Bordeaux Hotel across from the train station, all we had time for was a quick tram into the center of the city for a walk, a glass of wine and dinner at the Brasserie Bordelaise (Bob’s only criterion for the meal was that it was an actual meal and not several stops for plates of things). We both started with really, really fresh oysters, then tucked into steaks accompanied by a bottle of Chateau Bondelle Grave, 2006 (a cab, merlot, petite verdot blend, I am told). We stopped at a schnitzy bar for an Irish Coffee (a little over the top since it was made with creme fraiche) before tramming home.

Day two was taken up with returning the car to the airport, being driven back to the city for lunch at a wine bar sponsored by the Bordeaux Vintners Association, making wine prices cheap and choices large. We nibbled on cheese, charcuterie, and chocolates while sipping our way through 6 different glasses of wine priced at between 2 and 5€ each. Then it was tourist train time! Yup, we boarded this little choo-choo that took us around the city and donned headphones so we could hear the spiel in English. There’s lots more to be seen and to do here than we had time for, so I guess Bordeaux is on the list for a return visit.

Dinner our second night was at Le Noailles, a bistro that Bob had visited some 30 years ago when he was in Bordeaux attending a wine school before I joined him for our first jaunt through France. I was hoping the same waiter would be there, but he would have been about 90 years old. Our meal was a blow out extravaganza of more oysters, fresh scallops with rice, cheese and French pastry with a 2010 Chateau Chantgrive Grave with which to wash things down. Took the tram (new system in 2007) back to our hotel and rearranged the suitcases yet one more time for our train trip to Paris

Unfortunately, there is a lessening amount of space in said suitcases, so the wonderful shopping that is available here in Bordeaux cold not be utilized. But next trip. . . .

Bob’s Bits

Bordeaux today is, in some ways, the same as it was thirty five years ago when I first walked the cobbled streets. As a young wine enthusiast, I came to attend a week long wine school class on Bordeaux wine. The class was canceled while I was in route, but my time was well spent due to a gracious Bruno Prat who owned Cos de Estournel at the time and made contacts for me with both young and old Bordeaux wine estates. “Young” in this case means only a couple of hundred years old. The visits were both educational & fun. I also found a very nice bistro where an older waiter taught me the ins and outs of dining in France. The restaurant was called Le Noailles on Allee de Tourny. The restaurant looks the same today as then with its mostly French clientele, dark wood and very professional waiters.

Later in the week, Bruno Prat invited me to his home for lunch and to meet his family, a honor for me since that is not something that is typically done at our level of acquaintance. I wanted to make sure I did the correct thing afterwards by sending a thank you for my experience. Having seen a candy shop, Cadiot-Badie, near Le Noailles, I returned there where Madame in the shop helped me pick out a really nice box of selected chocolates to be sent to Madame Prat at her home as a thank you. This is one of my fondest memories of my early years in he wine business. Cadiot-Badie is still in business today and still making delicious chocolates. Overall the old part of the city of Bordeaux is walkable and beautifully photogenic with many cafes, bistros, restaurants and shops. A modern tram system quickly and quietly brings you into the old part of town and then whisks you back to the less expensive hotels further out. You do not have to be a wine nut to enjoy this city.

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