Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I never thought Bordeaux would be such a big city. Every time I pictured it in my mind, I imagined rolling hills with green grape vines and crumbling chateaux. I did not picture a bustling urban space with chain shops and busy streets.
My mental picture wasn’t entirely off, though. It was just misplaced. The area around the city was the peaceful haven of winemaking that I dreamed of, but the city itself was…well…a city.
But that wasn’t a bad thing. Once I got used to the idea of Bordeaux being a big, busy place, I started to appreciate that it still had the charm of a smaller town. On the first night of the trip, for example, my friends and I had dinner at a restaurant called Le Bistro du Sommelier. The restaurant had an uncommonly large garden for being in a city. We dined in the midst of trees and flowers, enjoying our portions of duck and steak as our server made suggestions from the extensive wine list.
The following evening we returned from running the Medoc Marathon in Pauillac, and again dined al fresco at a restaurant called Le Regent in Place Gambetta. Next to it ran a wide pedestrianized shopping street that was a rare sight in cities as large as Bordeaux. After dinner we meandered down that street until we found ourselves in Place du Parlement, a small square with a beautiful fountain that was reminiscent of those in smaller French cities like Aix-en-Provence.
The next day we went back to Place du Parlement for lunch at one of the cafes. Big bowls of moules frites were washed down with local rosé as we discussed the previous day’s run. After lunch we grabbed some gelato and headed back to Place Gambetta. We sat in the park there for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying the wine we had received as a “prize” for running the marathon.
When we left Bordeaux that evening we took a tram to the airport. The ride was smooth and the tram was so clean that again it was hard to believe we were in a big city and not a small town. It was just as well, though, because now when I imagine Bordeaux I can picture the best of both.