Today marks one month since moving to the lovable French city of Bordeaux. While I have since settled into a daily rhythm filled with school and work, it still seems impossible to quit the feeling that I am on a holiday. How could I with weekend hiking trips in the countryside, day trips to the beach, and frequent visits to chateaux?
Located in southwestern France, just north of Spain and situated upriver on the Garonne, Bordeaux is a diverse hotspot of cultural attractions, elegant eateries, and of course profound wines. Offering nearly 9,000 vineyards, Bordeaux stands as the “Wine Capital of the World,” yet I’ve learned that this city goes way beyond its namesake wine region.
The city itself is reminiscent of Paris with its cobblestoned boulevards, neoclassical buildings, trés chic passersby, and lively waterfront scene. However, unlike its northern neighbor, Bordeaux manages to feel quaint and relaxed despite ranking as the second-most visited city in France. I imagine all these tourists flock to Bordeaux for the same reason I did: for the promise of French charm and art de vivre.
It is not hard to hit cruise control in this city and just take in the sights and sounds of a foreign land. Quite frankly, my walks to class or work have been some of my most cherished moments so far. Getting lost in thought as I walk along the city center allows me to appreciate where I am and why I am here in France.
During my year-long wine adventure, I hope to cultivate my wine knowledge and expand my understanding of French and global cultures. Each glass is the voice of a place and I am here to taste and listen. Bordeaux is a phenomenal location to achieve this goal. With its plethora of wine bars and boutiques, futuristic wine museum, yearly festivals, and world heritage sites, Bordeaux truly serves as a gateway to iconic vineyards near and far.
La Cité du Vin:
Less than a year old, this interactive wine center and exhibition is a must-see for city visitors and residents alike. The building makes an impact alone, standing 8 stories tall with striking liquid lines meant to represent the swirling of a wine glass. The museum is unlike any other; really bringing the personal wine experience alive for each guest.
Le Miroir d’Eau:
Not just a fountain, but the largest reflecting pool in the world! The Miroir d’Eau or “Mirror Water” provides some of the best entertainment in the city. Drained and refilled every half-hour, the pool perfectly reflects the dazzling features of the 18th Century Palais de la Bourse across the quay. My favorite time to visit is at night in order to capture panoramic photos of the stunning lights reflected in just 2 cm of still water.
Le Bar á Vin:
My favorite wine bar in a city filled with wine bars. Bar á Vin has an exceptional wine selection with some of the best prices in the city – 2 to 6 euro for a glass. Although there is always a line to get in, the hip vibe coupled with great wine and hors d’oeuvres is definitely worth a visit.
Rather unique for Bordeaux, this wine lounge is dedicated solely to the delicious golden bubbles we call, Champagne. I really enjoy this salon for its cozy and intimate atmosphere and wide range of Champagne brands to choose from. Accompanying each glass is a tray of sweet or savory goodies.
While I try to refrain from shopping for the sake of my wallet, I couldn’t resist this marvelous wine specialty store. Shoppers climb a spiral central staircase that holds 15,000 bottles of Grand Vins de Bordeaux. Truly a wine lovers dream!