Bordeaux did not immediately endear itself to us. For hours we had been driving peacefully through villages, markets and fields on the way from Angouleme, and then Bam! Traffic, off ramps, badly marked streets. Yuck. The next day, Bastille Day, we needed to return the car to the rental agency. It was a real Mr. Toads ride. Demonic parking structures, narrow, winding roads. Irritated police officers made for high blood pressure all around. And when, through the grace of serendipity and a temperamental GPS we found the agency, it was closed. A kindly couple directed us to park the cursed car and follow them to the office in the terminal, which we did, with gratitude.
Once we were on foot, life got sweeter. We found a tram, and in changing lines for our hotel, discovered the largest public square in Europe, Les Qinconces, and a huge fountain monument, Les Girondins. Incredible.
In the days that followed, we have discovered a lot of sweetness in Bordeaux. There are cafes with funny waiters who are helpful. There are parks with quirky art, children who ran through sprinklers with their dads, and merry go rounds with turn of the century artwork and really odd animals. There are ancient churches being restored to glowing beauty, one donated euro at a time.
Tomorrow, we catch the 11:18 train to Paris. I am anxious to get to what feels like our home away from home, the only familiar ground on this long journey. But I will miss Bordeaux. But we will see it again, sometime.
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