It was a change of scenery as we traveled into France across Gascony for
an orientation of Bordeaux, the wine capital of France. We then traveled
farther north by way of the Cognac area to Poitiers, of Black Prince
There is no touristic season in Bordeaux. Only December is lighter with tourists. So what attracts the mass of tourists there around the year; maybe you think it’s the good weather? It’s all about wine, admit it. Well, that’s what we knew before we visited it too, so no shame in saying it out loud. Bordeaux is most famous for its wine, and for good reason. Before I get to amazingly descriptive details about the wine experience, let me tell you, there are plenty of other things to see and do there.
We explored the area on foot to soak up the atmosphere, admire the façades of the old buildings and enjoy some good shopping, and dining too. The Allées de Tourny leads down to the Place de la Comedie and the Grand Théâtre, home to the the Opéra National de Bordeaux, as well as the Ballet National de Bordeaux. With its magnificent neo-classical façade, designed by 18th century architect Victor Louis, the structure consists mainly of wood, which provides for perfect acoustics, and has a circular cupola with a wonderful ceiling painted by Claude Robin in the 18th century. We then took a short walk from the Place de la Comedie, towards the Garonne River, which brought us to the Place de la Bourse. Very much one of the highlights of any visit to Bordeaux is the riverfront, which was revitalized as recently as the 1990s, as part of the urban development scheme, instigated by mayor, Alain Juppé. It has now been transformed from a’ no-go’ area of derelict warehouses, to offering pedestrian friendly, tree-lined promenades, with the old warehouses converted into shops and restaurants.
Bordeaux is an elegant city, reputed for its stylishness. It features large department stores, luxury brands, leading nationwide ready-to-wear shops, Parisian couturiers, jewellers, craftsmen, perfume shops, leather goods shops, specialised boutiques of all kinds, which made Kim’s highlight. We then took a simple walk across the Triangle (formed by Cours de l’Intendance, Cours Clemenceau, and the Allées de Tourny), down the famous rue Sainte-Catherine, or through Old Bordeaux that revealed the incredible range of goods of all types on offer. The hustle and bustle shows that Bordeaux is a very prosperous, alive, and switched-on city.
After spending hour in the shops we continued to some other highlights:
Place de la Bourse (Miroir d’Eau) – Personally we loved this place. We thought it is just a fountain but they made a great attraction which looks absolutely stunning!
Place de la Victorie (Victory Square) – is one of the busiest areas with bars, restaurants, cafes, a chic tramway, and beautiful architecture. There’s always a crowd in the Victory square, and events, parties and concerts are often organized there.
Musée d’Aquitaine – It’s the museum to see in Bordeaux. It features historical collections from within the region (all the way since prehistory) but also from faraway lands since the age of great discoveries.
Tour Pey-Berland – the monument is the best spot to see the panoramic view of the city. It’s also lovely to look at from down below.
There isn’t a lot to do at Poitiers, but it is a pleasant small city, and visitors will find relaxed atmosphere, especially compared to Paris. We arrived to the city centre late afternoon. It has a small square in front of the City Hall and is surrounded by cafes, where you can sit down with a glass of wine or coffee or get something to eat. It gets packed on weekends, especially during summer. Other parts of the town may give you an impression of a ghost town, especially during lunchtime, when the shops are closed, which is the time we arrived. We dropped our bags and quickly enjoyed the change in the weather and walked around admiring the quietness. We didn’t take too many photos because we did a lot of walking early at Bordeaux. Later that night we ventured out for a couple of night shots.
The Baptistry of St. John is one of the oldest Christian buildings in Europe, dating back to 4th century. Inside, you can see the baptismal pool on the floor, the St. Pierre Cathedral has organ performances and the Church of Notre Dame Virgin Mary is the Patron Saint of France, so every city of town will have a church named Notre Dame (Our Lady). Poitiers’ Notre Dame has light shows some evenings after dark. Really didn’t get a chance to look around Poitiers