For my second stop in France, I took the train from Paris to Bordeaux for 106 euros, which is about what a flight would cost. Bordeaux is a cultural center with a rich history of delicious gourmet and local wine options.
Where to Eat & Drink
Le Bocal de Tatie Josèe is a charming little restaurant walking distance from Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux and about a half mile from Place de la Bourse. While the menu offered many great options, I was able to convey in broken French to my server that I wanted to try the local artisan jams available for purchase.
After discovering it was a typical request of tourists, I enjoyed my French breakfast of several different types of local jams with assorted rolls, breads, and pastries. Sitting at one of the outside tables belonging to the corner-placed restaurant, I sipped on coffee and fed pigeons crumbs while watching bicyclists and pedestrians passed by.
Since Bordeaux is at the center of many wineries, I took advantage of Le Bar a Vine to sample some local choices. The wine bar (as the name indicates) is on the ground floor of a beautiful flatiron-esque building. It’s a great stop to learn more about the wine produced around Bordeaux without spending a fortune. For 23,50, I had a cheese platter, two full glasses of wine, and a five-glass wine tasting of:
- 2017 Entre Deux Mers – Chateau Vignol
- 2017 Bordeaux Clairet – Chateau Turcaud
- 2011 Fronsac – Haut Carles
- 2014 Listrac-Medoc – Chateau Mayne Lalande
- 2015 Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux – Chateau Montfollet – Gran Vin
On the corner of Rue du Cancèra and Rue du Pas-Saint-George, is a cute two-story bar and bistro, Le Michel’s. During my long weekend in Bordeaux, I visited Le Michel’s multiple times since the staff and locals alike are warm and friendly. For dinner one night, I enjoyed the beef tartare, a mini-pot of chocolate cream custard, and my new favorite wine, a 2016 Cassini Saint-Emilion all for $54.27 (total includes tip and fees).
What to Do
Besides overindulging on food and wine, I explored an antique market at Place des Quinconces, which is one of the largest squares in Europe. Organized as the Foire à la Brocante des Quinconces, the flea market brings 180,000 visitors even though it is only available for a few weeks in the spring and fall each year. The dazzling market was near intoxicating with its treasure-trove of vintage home goods and other personal wares.
Bordeaux is a wonderful city with friendly locals, great food and wine as well as plenty of shopping. In addition to the clothing I bought, I left the city with a painting of Le Michel’s given to me by my waiter, the song “Quelque Chose de Tennessee” by Johnny Hallyday (thanks to new acquaintances at a bar) added to my Spotify playlist, and an appreciation and love (finally) for red wine.
If you’re not quite up to the bustle of Paris but still want to enjoy French culture, then head to Bordeaux! It may also be a reculer pour mieux sauter before going to the City of Love.