Backtrack the time to a month ago, when Q and I left Béziers to spend a couple of days just the two us in Bordeaux. With the promise of good wine, canelé and a visit to one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, Bordeaux triumphed over the other French cities quite effortlessly to become the place of our New Year holiday.
Bordeaux, pronounced bor – doh, is a port city in South-western France that sits on the River Garonne. It was the post-Christmas downtime and the peak of wintry days during our visit. The tower-sized arbre de Noël anchored itself tall and proud in front of the north façade of Cathédrale Saint-André.
Twenty steps away, children circled a much smaller and barer tree on their ice skates. An assemblage of tourists and locals sipped their espresso al fresco at Le Café Français despite the numbing cold, puffing and chatting away without a care in the world.
Charmed I was, by its blissfully peaceful character, I knew that Bordeaux has a lot more to offer.
With more than 350 sightly and historical monuments spread across the land, Bordeaux prides itself as the City of Art and History. And I say deservingly so.
Esplanade des Quinconces is one of the largest city squares in Europe and if you wonder why the fountain of Girondins bear some resemblance to the Trevi that wow-ed you in Rome, that is because they both hold fimly to their Roman-esque root.
I didn’t dare go too close to the sculptures the whole time we were there. The horses and troops and horse-fish, they were meant to symbolise Commerce, Navigation and Happiness. But they were made so large, united and audacious that they instigated fear.
I gravitated towards the neat rows of trees naturally, finding them a lot more serene and comfortable to be with. Planted in the shape of quincunxes, they were the reasons behind the name of this strangely baleful square.
There was no better time to wander. And as we crossed the botanical garden I was drawn by the little bookcase where anyone is allowed to give or take a book at their pleasure.
The seemingly comely landscape, along with the “tree art”, immediately played second fiddle to such a trusting and cultivated concept.
But then again, the shopping street was the place that had my full attention. And why shouldn’t it? Spanning 1.2km through the historic part of the city, it’s one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, with choices ranging from H&M to Hermès, spoilt for choice is an underrated statement. After bagging two dresses from COS, I carried on into Hema for 1€ stroopwaffles and colourful notebooks, then André and Galeries Lafayette in search of the mysterious size 4 faux-leather boots.
A very old city, Bordeaux is. But it’s not slowing down. In the middle of century-old monuments and architecture, we found modern humour and sprightly laughter coiled around shiny windows, vintage cars and the most fashionable demeanour. Bordeaux seems to cater to every need and want generously and perfectly.
Sitting in front of the Grand Hotel of Bordeaux, we observed the city and the passers-by, talked and razzed and laughed away, too, without a care in the world.
With love x