Bordeaux did not immediately endear itself to us. To be fair, we came in by car, always a terrifying approach to any city. Hours of blissful country driving, markets, villages, and then BAM! Overpasses, off ramps, traffic, and demonic parking structures. Yuck.
The trip to return the rental car ( a very sweet red Renault Cleo) to the Hertz agency by the Gare St Jean was a Mr. Toad Ride. Road construction, narrow one way streets, and irritated police officers made for high blood pressure all around. Finally, by the luck of serendipity and a temperamental GPS, we found the agency…which was, of course, closed: It was Bastille Day. A kindly couple told us (in French) to head to the train station ..and we did, following them. Thanks, Saint Nicenesses!
However, once we had lost the car, life got sweeter. Life slowed down a bit…we took the tram to the Hotel, changing trams at the largest public square in Europe called La Quinconces (in sight of the biggest fountain I’ve ever seen, a monument called Les Girondins”. )
The Bastille Day Fireworks on the banks of the Garonne River were quaint, with only a few hundred thousand of of our closest friends. So many people yet not one loud drunk, scary firecracker, fight, or even whiny child. Nice. The spectacle was spectacular. And afterward, we all walked back to our respective lodgings, one big human river, flowing smoothly.
In the days following, we found the loveliness of Bordeaux: cafes where the waiters are funny and helpful, gardens with quirky art and friendly ducks, museums of thought provoking art, and ancient churches being renovated into glowing newness, one donated Euro at a time.
We catch the 11:18 train tomorrow for Paris. I am so excited to be headed back to what feels like our home away from home, the only familiar ground on this trip…but I wish that we could see more of Bordeaux. And we will, sometime.






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