Sat 6 Sep 2014
Life in late summertime Bordeaux is très très bon! Quietly observe the locals in this jewel of a city and you’ll see they live by the popular French credo, Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup (“Eat well, laugh often, love abundantly!”).
Never ones to shy away from local tradition, Mountaineering Man and I embraced the way of the Bordelais and spent four days enjoying everything the city had to offer.
For starters, we opted for an Airbnb apartment over a hotel, something we’re doing more of these days. The lovely Julia’s central, third-story flat was perfect. Housed in a 200-year-old building but fully refurbished, it featured dark-wood floors, exposed brick walls and large windows that let in a lovely cross-breeze and lots of sunlight. I was grateful for the climb up the sturdy stone stairs to her apartment; by the time I got to the top, I’d rationalised away whatever treat I’d eaten earlier.
We tried to achieve that sort of balance on a daily basis, which is easy in this extremely walk-able city. The promenade along the River Garonne, with its sweeping views and breathtaking landmarks such as the Place de la Bourse, is the ideal running route and one we took full advantage of. Breakfast was always the same but never dull: a fresh-baked croissant from our local boulangerie, a glass pot of thick natural yogurt with fruit compote and a cup of café crème, enjoyed al fresco on rattan bistro chairs facing the street – bien sûr.
The weather in late August was slightly humid but quite mild, about 23 C (74 degrees Fahrenheit). Suspicious we may be returning to a cool, gray Dublin, we decided to explore the outdoor attractions versus museums and galleries. It was a good move. Within a day we’d familiarised ourselves with our new neighbourhood and found some real local gems like the Diabolo Menthe record shop and Plume Small Kitchen cafe, an airy, rustic restaurant with a focus on fusion and fresh, local ingredients. And though we didn’t venture inside, we walked the perimeter of the Basilique St-Michel, a formidable Gothic church with a bell tower we could see from our apartment window.