8 Things About Bordeaux: It’s Not Just a Wine

October 12, 2015

Bordeaux: It’s Not Just a Wine

If you follow my Instagram account @theprettymaven you know that I recently traveled to Europe for a few days. I specifically hit up France and Spain. My dear friends were getting married in Bordeaux. And true to my spirit, I chose to seize the moment and take the opportunity to make it a trip. So I will let you in on some of my experiences in Bordeaux  – the French wine country everyone has heard of but never gone to visit.

So, my friends who live in New Zealand – you might remember that trip – decided to get married in France.

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She’s Canadian, but he is French.

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She speaks fluent French because that’s what Canadians do. His family is from a region close to Bordeaux – hence the wedding location is Bordeaux!

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Now France was not very high on my list of travel places. I eventually wanted to go there, but places like Greece, Croatia, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, anywhere in Asia were all higher on the list than France. I have nothing against France but the language barrier is quite daunting and French people don’t know English. Plus, I wanted my first France trip to include Paris and I heard you are not supposed to go to Paris alone. It’s a romantic city and you should go with a man who loves you. So you put the French factor and the boyfriendless factor together – France was not high on the list. Until someone gets married there. Then boom – its high on the list.

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My first French wedding! How could I say no? I make it a game to see how many kinds of weddings I can get to: Nigerian, Indian, southern, destination. This keeps me from wanting to slit my wrists when I think about going to another wedding alone…

Anyway, I digress – and I really do love going to weddings…really I do.

Bordeaux was your typical French city. Stone streets, castles, churches, French people…

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If you travel there here are some good things to know:

1. The airport is not in town. It’s about 1 hr by bus into the city center. So if you have an early flight, stay at one of the hotels by the airport. The bus doesn’t start until 520 am.

2. Public transportation is all you need. A trip on the bus from the airport is 1.50 euros. Once in the city center everyone either takes the bus, tram or walks. I miss cities with public transportation. A LOT! The west coast needs to get on the train literally.

BTW Uber is available but be careful where you get it. There is some tension between taxi drivers and Uber drivers. My friends’ Uber driver was threatened with a beat down in Bordeaux! Yes, this really happened. I used Uber to pick me up at my apartment, but I would never get it in a public place for the driver’s (and my own) sake.

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3. It’s extremely safe to walk around Bordeaux alone. Lots of people are all around walking at all hours. Maybe this should make you feel less safe but it makes me feel more safe.

4. Bordeaux is a college town. I stayed near the main square next to the University finding a trusty Airbnb. It was a perfect location near food.

5. French is the language. Very few people spoke English. Once I got into the city center a few more people did speak English but nothing like I am used to when it comes to traveling. This just tells me Bordeaux is not heavily reliant on tourists. So it’s important to learn a little French before going. Just the pleasantries and after that pointing does the job!

Side note: I found it truly amazing being in a place with tons of people and unable to communicate with them. Language is so crazy like that! It’s truly a humbling experience to struggle through a conversation with someone. That basic ability we take for granted every day is gone. I definitely will be more patient with tourists in the US from now on. Now, people, that move here and don’t learn the language – that’s another story.

6. The food: crepes, macarons, caneles.

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Yes, I ate real food, but I thought French food was heavy sauces with butter. I may not have had the full experience because of the wedding, but I did have the full French pastry experience. The canele is a little gem straight out of Bordeaux. It tough on the outside, soft on the inside, but sweet all over – like me!

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I do recommend this great restaurant in a St. Pierre square containing St. Pierre church that my friends hosted their pre-wedding dinner for the out of towners. La Planche is run by a lovely couple who make a delicious salad dressing (probably the one of two salads I had all trip) and lovely quiche without the crust. Oh and an ice cream scoop of mozzarella drizzled with bacon bits…

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7. Things to do: I did wedding things like fish eating dead skin pedicures (I personally didn’t do this because I heard the fish thing is a hoax, but I watched.), weddings, stagette parties so I am not the authority on this.

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I do know Bordeaux has a lovely river (Garonne) that borders the city and along this river are parks that are beautiful to walk through.

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Also, being in wine country you should wine taste. Shopping: St. Catharines Rue – streets are called rues and cours there. Also St. Emilion is supposed to be a great day trip deeper into wine country.

8. Life lesson of the trip: I met a woman from Cameroon in the bathroom at Gare St. Jean – the train station. I met her because the bathroom cost 0.50 euros to use. Only in Europe do you have to pay to use the bathroom. She helped me get to the main shopping street in Bordeaux (see above). We started talking because she told me I reminded her of her daughter who now lives in DC. She told me she has been in France for the last 20+ years and considers herself French. Her children she also considered French.

She also told me she used to work as a secretary for the last 16 years. She lost her job and is now working at the bathroom in the train station cleaning and collecting money.

Her story just hit home. She didn’t give up. She found another job. She was extremely kind in the process. I don’t know what the whole story is, I just know what she was like now.

I think this story hits close to home for me because of my current situation. I’ve been trying to think outside the box. What else can I do? If I don’t want to move out of the city I consider my home now then I need to find another way to make a living and be happy with it. I’m trying to figure out something.

I also wish everyone would judge a person on their current experience with them. The NOW. Not their past because at the end of the day, you never know the whole story unless you have walked in that person’s shoes.

So those are my experiences from Bordeaux, France. A place I never thought I would go to but did and enjoyed. I hope to go back and really experience the city more.

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Congratulations to my wonderful friends Adelaine and Arnaud! I love you guys!

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Now it’s time for Sportif: That’s the French word for sports…

MLB

It’s that time of year again…

So I have vaguely started paying attention to baseball again because it’s getting pretty darn close to the World Series. I think they can actually feel good about calling it the World Series now because the Toronto Bluejays are in the playoffs. Here’s a little glimpse into what’s happening in baseball:

Remember when Chicago went crazy recently? The Cubs made it to the playoffs by beating the Pirates in the National League wild-card game. Now they are playing the St. Louis Cardinals (the 2011 World Series Champs) in the division series and the series is tied 1-1.

It’s the ultimate East versus West saga: The New York Mets are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series. The Mets and Dodgers are tied 1-1.

Speaking of New York: The Yankees lost their chance at the postseason by losing to the Houston Astros in the American League wild-card game. The Astros are now playing last year’s runner-up, the Kansas City Royals in the American League division series. The series is 2-1 Astros.

Remember Toronto? The are playing the Texas Rangers and are behind in the series 2-1. We need you Toronto to make the World Series honest!

Rugby

Did you know it was the rugby world cup? And that the US has a team in it? I didn’t until I went to Europe. America is all about that football yo…

Who am I kidding…I am all about that football too…

NCAAF

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Is there a French word for unranked upset…

There were quite a few interesting upsets in college football this weekend. USC again gets knocked down by an unranked team – Washington. Oklahoma goes down to an unranked Texas. Charlie Strong’s job is saved. Lastly, Georgia goes down to an unranked Tennessee.

What about close calls…

Notre Dame pulled away from the Navy in the second half, FSU held off a Miami comeback, and I thought Arkansas was going to give Alabama a run to no avail.

Utah kept the Cal Bears at bay. Michigan State almost lost to an unranked Rutgers. A similar story happened between TCU and Kansas State.

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Ohio State destroyed Maryland, but I am going to need the Buckeyes to light a fire under their ass. The remainder of their schedule is no joke. Michigan State, Illinois never lets Ohio State off easy, Penn State is 5-1 and Michigan.

Michigan shut out Northwestern. This makes me nervous. Urban time to coach them up a bit…

Duke destroyed the Army and officially has broken the top 25 in national polls with their 5-1 season.

NFL

Dimanche drame (Sunday Drama)

Apparently the two things on the menu this Sunday were comebacks in overtime or blowouts…

Blowouts belong to Philadelphia Eagles against the New Orleans Saints, the Packers against the Rams, the Cardinals against the winless Lions, and the Patriots versus the Cowboys.

These were not overtime comebacks but close enough: The Bears beat the Chiefs after the Chiefs lost their main running back Jamaal Charles to a knee injury, probably ACL – read more about that pesky ligament. The Bills were able to comeback over the Titans. Led by the veteran Peyton Manning, the Broncos came back to beat the Raiders despite Peyton’s two interceptions.

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My Homies

Comebacks in overtime were cool today, unlike San Diego. The Falcons did it, the Bengals miraculously performed it and my best team killed it.

The Browns beat the Ravens today after coming back down by 11 in Baltimore. Yaaasss Brownies! McCown is showing his worth over Manziel and I hope they stick with him.

Some interesting sports news: That coach that was wasted at a school function is now mysteriously on a leave of absence for an undisclosed condition. This is all code for the USC coach, Sarkisian, is in rehab. One of his players said he was “lit” at a meeting this week. Hahaha! USC always stays relevant. They learned it from Pete Carroll.

Thank you for reading my Bordeaux blog!! I am so glad I traveled to France. Stay tuned for San Sebastian! What was your best unexpected trip?

 I am headed to Charlotte and Austin this week. Remember to follow me on Instagram @theprettymaven! I’ve never been to Austin! Any recommendations?

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