A few weeks back, S & I were lucky enough to go and visit my Aunt & Uncle who live just outside Bordeaux in France. We had the best time; climbing up sand-dunes, sampling some french wine, eating multiple baguettes daily, finding the tall things to climb in every place we went and having long lazy dinners and board game nights with the family.
Having visited Pessac (the suburb where my aunt lives) a few times, I was excited to introduce S to some of my favourite parts of the region as well as discover some new bits. We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and after coming through the shed-like airport (Ryanair Terminal!), we were greeted by my cousin, Seb who drove us back to their house, where we promptly fell asleep after our early wake up! When we woke up, darkness had fallen and we were treated to a delicious dinner, introductions and a catch up with the family. We went to bed full and happy ready to get exploring in the morning!
The next day was a french bank holiday, so everyone had the day off, so we headed off to Arcachon, a lovely seaside town on the west coast. Before we headed into the town, we stopped at the Dune du Pilat – the tallest sand dune in Europe – I have visited before and seen it from across the water before, but am still in awe of it every single time! It’s scale is so huge and crazy to see in person. My aunt walked up to the top with us and then decided she was done (its a steep steep climb!) so S & I kept going promising to meet her back at the car within an hour so we could head to lunch (the french take their meal times very seriously!) We walked down to the other side of the dune, all the way to the water and just took in the gorgeous views of the water and the forest. Stunning Scenery and one of the most beautiful sights. It was also cool to be able to trace the 60 mile cycle trip I completed this summer (with my Aunt and my mum) around the Bassin D’arcachon – I kept looking at it in disbelief! Still can’t believe I cycled that far in two days!
We spent the rest of day eating italian food (why not?), and wandering around the town of Arcachon, lots of beautiful french architecture and a tower called the Observatoire Sainte-Cecile (hailed as the eiffel tower of Arcachon) you can climb for views of the water and city! The climb up was rather sketchy (as it appeared to be held up by wobbly cables) and there was a person limit that no one was abiding by! The views were so worth it though and it was great to see all the autumn colours from above! I love autumn, it’s my favourite time of year!
The next morning, S & I were given the keys to my Aunt’s little car, and off we went, on an adventure of our own. Our first stop (after a test drive) was a nearby forest/park for a wander and to go up a very cool looking structure (which only had views of a recycling plant but I guess you win some, you lose some…) – there were also beautiful yellow trees in the forest as well as a little cabin you could stay in!
We then drove on to Lege-Cape-Ferret, a seaside oyster village for a long walk which we had hoped would be followed by a long leisurely french lunch…We parked in a deserted car park and wandered across the dunes to the beach, and upon a steep descent down to the sand, discovered a ton of World War II bunkers, some still standing, others fallen on the sand and some almost completely buried! Most of them had graffiti and paintings on them, and it was so unexpected as we hadn’t known to look for them (if you’re are interested they are on the oceanside of the spit of Cape-Ferret).
We walked along the beach for quite a while, talking, running & exploring and then headed into town to find food. Though everything except Carrefour (the supermarket) was closed, so we bought bread, cheese, avocado and tomatoes and made our own sandwiches, sitting on the beach to do so. Being November, it decided to pour down as we sat down, and we felt very British, eating our sandwiches in the rain! We wandered around the town a little more before finding where we parked the car and beginning the drive back home! We headed back to Pessac to recount our day to the family, play some hilarious board games and eat delicious Japanese food made by my cousin followed by a ‘crepe’ party in which we must have each devoured about 790000 crepes. So yummy! On our penultimate day, we wandered around the local market with my Aunt stopping to taste local cheeses and look at all the pretty flowers. On the way home we also stopped to explore one of the local chateaus as Bordeaux is famous for its wine, the vines were all yellow but the grounds were immaculate. So cool to see where they make the wine we had been drinking over the course of the trip (my uncle had been attempting to educate us…but neither of us know anything about/rarely drink wine so think his masterclass was a bit lost on us!)
Later on, after a long leisurely lunch, we went into Bordeaux in the afternoon on the tram. S drove us in their family car to the tram stop (as my Aunt and Uncle had had one too many glasses of red wine at lunch) which was a hilarious endeavour, the car was not the easiest to drive and we all got hysterical in the process as S tried to figure out how best not to stall (NB: this is not a reflection on his driving – he’s great at it – this car was just very stall-able.) We did, however, get there in the end and hopped on the tram to the city, stopping at all the universities where my aunt and uncle work! I love going into Bordeaux, the grand french architecture, the reflection pool and lots of lovely places to stop for coffee and hot chocolate along the way. The reflection pool is my favourite spot for beautiful photographs as there is a thin layer of water on the ground that has been put there for the exact purpose to reflect the Grand Palace. We also went into a cinema in a church and saw hordes of birds fly across the sky in formation – pretty special!
Our final morning was spent relaxing at a local pool that has a warm outdoor pool that you can go in all year round, it was so lovely to swim around while being able to see your breath in the air. I loved this trip and it was so nice to get away for a few days with S, as well as catch up with my family, very grateful for their generosity and for hosting us!
My Bordeaux checklist:
-Dune du Pilat
-A local Chateau
-Sunday morning market
-A seaside town
-A walk in the forest
-Bikes (we didn’t manage this on this trip but I highly recommend from past trips!)
-At least one day exploring the city
Have you ever been to Bordeaux? Any tips for my next visit?