Saturday, May 25, 2019

Gate 1 Day 11 - Bordeaux

May 2019 - Bordeaux France

DAY 11, Saturday - Tour of Bordeaux


Morning tour of Bordeaux, on the crescent-shaped Garonne River, with its rich architectural and cultural heritage. Bordeaux is distinguished for the wines that bear its name, considered by connoisseurs to be amongst the best in the world. 

The city tour begins at the Place des Quinconces, the largest square in Western Europe with its mighty pillar centerpiece, the Girondist Column. 

No, the tour did not even touch on this monument, we do it ourselves later in the day.

The tour started off on the bus.

La Cité du Vin (City of Wine) was conceived by architects from the XTU agency in collaboration with the British agency Casson Mann Limited. The futuristic edifice, with its tower reaching 55 meters (181 feet), is the world’s largest wine museum.

Bordeaux has five road bridges that cross the Garonne, the Pont de Pierre built in the 1820s and three modern bridges built after 1960.

Europe's longest-span vertical-lift bridge, the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, was opened in 2013 in Bordeaux, spanning the River Garonne. The central lift span is 117-metre-long (384-foot) and can be lifted vertically up to 53 metres (174 feet) to let tall ships pass underneath.

We made a photo stop.

We then left the bus for a walking tour.

Bordeaux is classified "City of Art and History". The city is home to 362 monuments historiques (only Paris has more in France) with some buildings dating back to Roman times. Bordeaux has been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble".

The Palais Rohan in Place Pey Berland houses the town hall of Bordeaux and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux.

It took 13 years to build and was completed in 1784. In former times it was the Archbishop's Palace. Parts of it date back to medieval times though it has been improved at various times over the years. Its present appearance is due to renovations in 1771 by Archbishop Ferdinand Maximilien Mériadec de Rohan (hence the name). However, it was completely destroyed during World War II, and thus rebuilt.

Located near the Town Hall, this is the most beautiful religious monument in Bordeaux.

Saint André's heterogeneous style is unexpected and endearing, especially because of its freestanding belltower. Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, the future king of France, were married here 1137, as were Anne of Austria and Louis XIII. The cathedral was used to store fodder during the French Revolution… a sad fate for this monument that also suffered from a devastating fire in the 19th century. All of the furniture was replaced with that taken from other churches.

Out in the square.

Jacques Chaban Delmas, former mayor. What is John doing??

A wedding outside the Hotel de Ville. Only secular marriages are recognized in France.

In the historic Old Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, view the beautiful Grand Theatre built in 1780.

Back on the bus for a quick drive to the Grand Theatre.

Decorated in sumptuous blue, white and gold – the colours of royalty – the Grand-Théâtre, an 18th-century architectural masterpiece by Victor Louis, is now the stage for the Bordeaux National Opera. In the course of its long history dotted with theatre plays, operas and concerts, the Grand-Théâtre has played host to the most famous of artists.

This is to be the meeting place after the walking tour finishes at 11 should you want to head back to the hotel. Otherwise you can make your own way back to the hotel or the bus will be here at 2 PM to also transport you back.

The guide continued the walking tour down Rue de Sainte-Catherine is the spine of Bordeaux, connecting Place de la Comédie to Place de la Victoire.

The street is 1.2km long, and is lined with shops, many of which are French high street classics, such as Galerie Lafayette.

What girl doesn't drool over shoes?

Galeries Lafayette has a beautiful barometer.

Sanna is the name of the monumental sculpted head that stands on Place de la Comédie in Bordeaux since 2013. Jaume Plensa is the creator of this female face made entirely of cast iron.

Seven meters high, the singular silhouette is the only remaining sculpture of a total of eleven works by the Catalan artist that was exhibited throughout the city back in 2013.

11 AM and the tour finishes with Laura having a treat for us, a local specialty.

A canelé is a small French pastry flavored with rum and vanilla with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. It takes the shape of a small, striated cylinder up to five centimeters in height with a depression at the top.

We're on the street or way of the red hat.

The afternoon is yours to independently explore this beautiful city. Choose to stroll down Rue St. Catherine, a main pedestrian thoroughfare running through the historic district. 

After a bathroom stop in the Intercontinental, only the best for us, we were off to explore.

Outside the hotel.

Ramsey has a restaurant in the hotel.

The Grand Theatre, again, from the corner.

Maison du Vin de Bordeaux, the headquarters of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (Bordeaux Wine Council). The 18th Century building, known as the Hôtel Gobineau, makes reference to the city’s role as a port, with lines that recall a ship’s prow.

 We'll come back to this building later today!

L'Entrecote, since 1959, the single course formula has remained unchanged. This formula consists of a 170 grams slice of rib eye trimmed with fries and its famous sauce.

There is always a queue prior to the two daily services at noon and 7 PM.

This is already on my bucket list for a return visit! I have not read a bad review.

Place des Quinconces is the main square of Bordeaux’s city-centre. It was created on the site of the Château Trompette, which was dismantled in 1816 when it became the property of the city of Bordeaux. The main esplanade is framed by trees and statues of Montesquieu and Montaigne on its north and south sides; by the Girondists’ Monument (also called Monument aux Girondins) on its west side; and by the two Rostral Columns and the river (la Garonne) on its east side. The name of the square comes from the trees that were planted in quincunxes. With an area covering 12 hectares, the Place des Quinconces is the largest square in France and one of the largest in Europe.

A rooster?? The rooster is a symbol of France.

And this was pecking around in the dirt below the statue.

We ran into Joe from our tour who suggested a couple of spots we should check out, that he was sure the local guide hadn't mentioned.

The Musée National des Douanes (Customs Museum) is a national museum situated in the magnificent Place de la Bourse, and is dedicated to the history of French customs. Built in the 18th century in a Classic style, it originally operated for the customs department of the king and only became a museum in 1984.

Located across from Place de la Bourse, between Quai de la Douane and Quai Louis XVIII, this spectacular pool, designed by landscape artist Michel Corajoud, alternates a mirror effect and artificial misting in an extraordinary way.

The rhythmic changes in 2 cm of water on a gigantic slab of granite make this location truly magical.


Despite its age (it dates from 1494)  this large, beautiful monument remains practically unchanged. It was built to commemorate Charles VIII's victory at Fornovo (Italy). This French king has left his mark on the tower since his likeness decorates a niche on the river side and a notice ask visitors to pay attention to the lintel and reminds them that Charles VIII died from walking quickly into just such a lintel.

Charles died in 1498 after accidentally striking his head on the lintel of a door at the Château d'Amboise, his place of birth.

We will see this chateau tomorrow!

What does the word Cailhau mean? No one seems to know for sure! Historians have various theories, but it doesn't really matter!

In the 16th century, prosperous families came to settle here.

Flora Tristan, one of the first feminists and grandmother of Paul Gauguin died here.

St Pierre church was built in the 15th and 16th centuries on the site of the old Gallo-roman port, at that time the center of the old town. Bordeaux prospered then changed hugely in the 18th century when the medieval walls separating the Saint Pierre district from the river and the port were torn down.

Totally different, an American soda shop.

At Laura's suggestion we stopped for lunch at the Bar y Vin.

CAFA Wine School / CAFA Formations is the first wine school in France based in Bordeaux in Aquitaine and is proud to be a program provider approved by the French government.

Artwork from the fifties present vineyard tasks in all their glory: an Aubusson tapestry with a vineyard theme, commissioned from Marc Saint-Saëns, and two stained-glass windows by René Buthaud, representing Apollo standing triumphant among Bordeaux grape harvesters and an allegory of the Garonne river.

The numerous appellations and diversity of the Bordeaux vineyard are well represented on the Bar à Vin list. Frequently updated, the list always offers a selection of thirty wines: reds, dry and sweet whites, rosés, clairets and sparkling wines.
The wines are served exclusively by the glass, in high quality glasses suited to each type of wine. Every wine is presented with an information sheet. The young sommeliers will be sure to share their passion for the wines of Bordeaux and help choose a wine that suits your tastes.
The server's suggestion to begin was a rose and a sparkling.

Prices were incredibly inexpensive (especially for France).

Delicious duck pate with a raisin bread.

Merlot salt.

A selection of chocolates for dessert.

We were done in time to catch the bus back to the hotel at 2 PM.

DEPART - 4:30 PM
This evening, an optional dinner in the Bordeaux countryside will complete the day.

Bordeaux to Cadillac is 42.6 km.
Depart late afternoon for a scenic drive south of Bordeaux, along the Garonne River, to go for wine tasting at one of the famed wine estates in the region. Bordeaux and its neighboring countryside with a total vineyard area of over 120,000 hectares earned itself a fine reputation after centuries of wine growing. 

Then on to Cadillac, for a stroll in the lovely walled town, towered over by an impressive castle, 

Have a typical French dinner, served of course with wine!

Approximate tour duration is 5 hours.

Optional: Bordeaux Countryside with Dinner (PM) BOOKED

Then it was 4:30 and we headed out for the optional countryside winery dinner. Most of the group went.

Château du Payre is a family estate passed from mother to daughter for 5 generations since 1881. For over a century, the female offspring is perpetuated in this unique and attractive place due to its charm and history.

Today Valérie Labrousse-Marcuzzi, head of the estate, is developing this château by being innovative, focused on Bordeaux wine tourism, awarded twice by the Best Of Wine Tourism competition.

Her passionate team is committed since 2008 in a wise and sustainable winegrowth in order to preserve the fauna and flora of the vineyard. This evolutionary commitment is demonstrated eco-citizenship through the Terra Vitis certification.

Valerie, herself, led our tour. But it was freezing out!

She then took us inside to the winery where it was no warmer!

We were served several white wines before heading into dinner.

We sat with Richard, Lydia and Phyllis, Zoe and a young couple for dinner. I do think that the room we were seated in could have been presented in a more welcoming way. It was freezing, one bathroom and plastic on the tables.
That said the food was delicious.

Laura turned on the heat!

Three wines were served with dinner.

Our table had plenty of wine but John had to bring Dorothy a glass at their table.

There's the local canelle!

We're on the bus back to the hotel before dark.

Ever wonder why the car was called a Cadillac??

It was named after French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who had founded Detroit in 1701.

Overnight: Bordeaux
Mercure Bordeaux Chateau Chartrons, Bordeaux
Meals: Breakfast

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