Downtown Bordeaux

Today we stayed in Bordeaux itself to do a little shopping and try to tour some of the town itself. This let us sleep in a bit, as we are not far from the center and could drive down and park there in a few minutes, and spend the rest of the day on foot. We have been downtown twice before in Bordeaux, both times fairly late in the day, and we just stayed around the shopping streets for the most part.

Today we actually followed the Michelin Guide so see some of the historic parts of the town, but first we needed Crepes. In Paris, we could simply spin around, throw a rock, and choose that spot to get crepes. we were rather shocked to find that in Bordeaux, they eat other things as well. In fact, we were getting our ass kicked to find crepes at all. After several blocks, and a few back alleys, we finally spotted a Creperie sign over a small restaurant on a side street. We dove in and were seated downstairs as the main floor was full. Downstairs seemed to be an old food cellar of some sort, with the typical arched stone roof, and we were alone.

Eventually the waiter returned and we ordered the usual crepes with ham, ham cheese and egg, (for me) and Salmon for the wife. After a few more folks joined us downstairs, the waiter returned with our food.

Grosse Choche These were possibly the best crepes we have ever had. Perfectly thin. Lacy and crisp. Amazing.

We wanted to eat about 10 more each, but settled for espresso and left to see the sights. We were waling along the main shopping drag for the most part , which has been cleaned and resurfaced, and is really quite nice. We were heading for the Big Clock Gate, on what was the old town wall, and found it under partial construction. The road underneath was being resurfaced, so it was pretty noisy, but beautiful.

HPIM0414We followed the route in our book towards the main bridge, which has the main town gate near it. As we got closer to the gate, the roads were getting seriously worse, and the building were a truly dirty, black color. This area was also becoming what looked to be an immigrant area, and not in a happy, shining, “we are pleased to be French” kind of way. We were getting some nasty looks from folks, which was a first in France, but this wasn’t from the French. We finally made it to St. Michel’s Cathedral, and the place was trashed. There was tagging graffiti all over, the stone was broken in many places, the doors were boarded up, and it just wasn’t a happy place to be.

We cut our tour short at that point, and headed back to the shopping district. As we found out later, Bordeaux has been doing some major civic reconstruction, as most of the buildings haven’t been maintained over the last few hundred years. The Church was in a depressed area, and the folks living there were Islamic immigrants, and have been really not interested in maintaining the local Christian church. The areas that have been repaired look fantastic, but this is a real split from Paris, where most everything is in pretty good shape. and seems to get maintained on a regular basis. That area was the only place we have been where we felt nervous. The fact that the wife speaks Turkish and could understand some of the comments toward us didn’t make us feel any better either.

HPIM0411 We bailed out up to the shopping district, and checked out some of the little fashion shops, the cuts of shirts are really different than American sizes, Shirts run really small I have to wear XXL here and it is a bit tight. But jackets are normally sized. Styles are pretty cool, so I snagged some stuff that you don’t see in the US for a change. Some of the shops had a really euro-punk flavor. The fake rats in the window were most impressive.

We headed into Lafayette, the big shopping icon of France to check it out. It’s big, like a Nordstrom’s, the one here in Bordeaux being a bit smaller than the Paris one, which we hope to see on our way back. One the third floor (that’s the fourth floor in the US) they have a fully staffed bar. So not wanting to pass up an opportunity to drink, we grabbed a quick Kir Royale, and some sandwiches. This is the kind of shopping that I like.

HPIM0427 We headed back to the big fountain on the river, which was absolutely filled with kids today. The sun was out, and naked kids were everywhere. I am certain that the place was completely sanitary, and that none of those kids were peeing into the fountain that sprayed up onto the rest of the kids. But what are you gonna do? it was cool to splash around, or at least to watch the daughter splash. I just filmed and looked around. Most of the folks were pulling wet clothes off of their kids and trying to dry them out on benches and such. The park started to look like Laundry Day after a while and we bailed for the hotel.