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All the photos from Bordeaux

Trip to Bordeaux, October 30 - November 1, 2004

November 1st being a holiday here in France, we decided we would head down to Bordeaux to see my
Waiting in Chatou
friend Lisa, who was on a retreat down there. It seemed as good an excuse as any to go see the wine country, which we had been dying to visit, and three days gave us time to visit the city, not rush too much, and make it back in plenty of time to get to work on Tuesday. So we got up nice and early Saturday morning and caught the RER from Chatou, and then headed down to Bordeaux by TGV.

We had arranged to meet with Lisa at the tourist office, to go on a wine tour shortly after we arrived. We managed to catch the bus, but we caught it going the wrong way, and thus ended up rushing across town in hopes that she would be later than we were. As it turned out, she had apparently taken the world's longest tour of the city and thus ended up getting there after we did. Having already taken one tour, she decided that maybe another on the same day wasn't such a wonderful idea, so we wandered the city instead (with Lisa telling us all the things she had learned on her tour. It being Saturday, the main shopping street was absolutely jammed with people.

The first day was actually quite uneventful, in that we wandered the city, stopped by a church, shopped, and looked at old buildings. Towards night we headed to a fair which was taking place near the city centre, which had a ferris wheel which dominated the skyline. We sought out some tasty food, and then retired for the evening.

Sasha on the high street The Cathedral of Saint Andrew Bordeaux at dusk

We caught a train the next day (Sunday, Halloween) to Saint Emilion, a village known for its (I hate to say it, but I have to) medieval charm, as well as its wines. The village really did live up to its marketing (I think every person I talked to said something along the lines of "well, of course you need to go to Saint Emilion"). It was a little hike from the train station, and there was some fear that we would get lost, but once you got near the town there was no question. The village occupies a couple of hills, and the climb is actually quite steep on some streets. We were lucky, in that we arrived early, and thus had the village mostly to ourselves. We headed to tourist information and caught the first tour we could, forgetting to check the language, so Lisa had plenty of time to look around while we listened to our French tour guide as she told us all
Mother and Child
about the monastery which dominates the city centre. It was a darned interesting tour, punctuated by us madly translating for Lisa as we moved from room to room. The tour actually started a bit late because of the steep streets I mentioned earlier - someone in less than appropriate footwear had trouble negotiating the slope down, so we all gathered at the bottom of the hill and waited. And waited. We saw the same thing at Mount Saint Michel, so we weren't terribly surprised.

After the tour of the monastery, we wandered the town, and when it had commenced to lightly rain we went into one of the many wine places in town, for a look around their cellar. We spent the rest of the day wandering the village, looking in cute shops and admining the views from different vantage points. Finally we headed back to the train station, where the (now multitudes of) tourists were trying to figure out which side of the tracks to stand on. There was a moment when I was certain one guy was going to stand on the tracks to wait for the train. Admittedly, it was tricky, because apparently the train only runs on one side, so the side you get off on is the side you get on on. One hopes the people who watch the rails are on their toes down there!

Vineyards near the station Cute shops and steep climbs Lisa and Saint Emilion

Finally, on the third day, after a morning visit to one of the many gardens in Bordeaux, we returned to the planned 'wine tour' idea, and catching a bus with 60 or so of our closest friends, we headed out to tour a couple of wineries in the Cotes du Bourg and Cotes du Blaye regions of Bordeaux, neither of which I was familiar with, so it was quite fun for us. The first vintner took us through his rather sizeable production facilities, and explained the process of growing and making the wine. Meanwhile his son (and granddaughter) set up glasses of the various wines produced there. We had two or three glasses of this and that, and ended up buying several bottles.

The second winery, Chateau Falfas, was tremendously interesting, becuase when we first heard the man speak French, it was clear he was not a native. It turned out he was from New Jersey, and had married into a wine-making family, and he and his wife were now producing wines of their own. Very entertaining. This was a smaller vintner, and was producing organically grown wine (actually, the process is called bio-dynamics), and producing some very tasty wines indeed. Since he was a native English speaker, he was able to give us a very detailed (some would say too detailed) description of his processes. Followed, of course, by some wine tasting. We then got back on the bus and headed back to Bordeaux, where we grabbed dinner at a place near the station (with a most entertaining waiter) and then caught the evening train back to Paris.

Morning wandering On the tour Barrels of wine

I actually ended up taking over 100 photographs, and they can all be viewed here along with explanatory text where needed. For further wine region fun, we also visted Avignon earlier in the year. I also maintain a web page devoted to wine, which lists some of our personal favorites from France and around the world.

All the photos from Bordeaux
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