Bordeaux was the first city of 9 that I was visiting on my epic semi-solo France trip. I stayed at an Airbnb near Gare St. Jean, and thankfully only needed to walk a short distance. I had a 25 inch suitcase that I didn’t fancy dragging around, marking me as a tourist. After getting myself settled in, I ended up walking around the area, not wanting to go far since it was already in the late evening. So I started my proper exploration of Bordeaux the following day after knocking out for a good 12 hours from jet lag.
First off, I took the metro to Place de Quinconnes. It was actually a struggle buying the metro ticket from the machine. I couldn’t figure out where to scroll up or down to make a decision. One kind stranger behind me (probably impatient as well) helped me and pointed out that I needed to turn a knob to scroll up and down. Well, that wasn’t very intuitive at first! But I bought my first ticket and made my way to the center of old town Bordeaux. I stopped at Place de Quinconnes, and I snapped a picture of the monument quickly, still being careful about not being targeted for pickpocketing.
I had switched travel backpacks to one that is more stylish, leather, had a zipper and flap, and meant for cameras – my Gatta Christie bag
. I ended up using this bag almost the entire trip, and only took out my camera when I wanted to take a picture. This got a bit annoying since I usually have my camera hanging from its shoulder strap, but I didn’t want to be marked as a tourist.
I also stopped by a cafe nearby and had some fresh squeezed orange juice and a croissant, just enjoying the morning air. It got very hot in Bordeaux pretty quickly, and I was glad I put on some BB cream that had SPF (my mom would be proud of me!). I spent the day wandering around the streets and stopped by a couple stores along Rue Saint Catherine, a mile or so long pedestrian street lined with shops and boutiques. One thing I learned about wandering around without a destination is that you walk in circles a bit and do come back to the same streets you passed before a couple times. I came past the Porte Cailhau several times, a famous door that looks like a castle!
For lunch, I stopped by a random cafe that had a tasty sounding risotto that wasn’t made up of mushrooms (bleh). The portions were huge and I only dented 1/3 of the dish! Luckily, this cafe had to-go boxes, as I knew most French places don’t carry them.
In mid-afternoon, I made my way to a very nice park to sit down, rest, and people watch. Lots of other locals were lounging and sitting on the grass but I opted for a park bench because I was wearing a white shirt I didn’t want to get grass stains on.
Eventually, I found myself some gelato, which I sat eating in a square / plaza. A guitarist street performer began playing and he was very good! I tipped him 1 euro before I left, and noticed that most other people had given him smaller change. Below are just some random pictures of the streets of Bordeaux 🙂
It was almost golden hour, which is my favorite part of the day, so I made my way to the Miroir d’eau, this reflective pool in front of the Place de la Bourse. Water covers a large rectangular expanse, where people were wading in and cooling off. Every 30 minutes or so, the water disappeared and mist would rise from the spouts instead, creating an effect as if you’re walking on clouds. When the sun sets, the building lights turn on and the reflection on the pool is even more apparent. It’s so beautiful!
I had spent 2 full days in Bordeaux and day 2 was mainly filled with bike riding. I figured out the city’s bike share program and had 24 hours to enjoy unlimited 30 minute rides for a cheap price. I would highly recommend the bike share program as an easy way to get around the city. Plus there are plenty of dock stations everywhere! I signed up right at a dock station with my credit card, and used the iOS app “Bordeaux” to track the city’s dock stations. Although I’m not much of a wine drinker, I loved the old city feel of Bordeaux and how I felt safe and at ease 🙂