Thursday, October 3, 2013

Never Bored in Bordeaux

Our friends Sylvia and Len live about 55km (35 miles) from Bordeaux, and even though it doesn't seem like far to drive, traffic in the city center can be a tangled mess, serving only to jangle the nerves of those who are supposed to be out for a days entertainment. 
The solution we sought is to take one of France's efficient trains, and leave the driving to SCNF. 
We drove to a nearby station in Jonzac, a 15 minute drive, and boarded the local "Ter" run to Bordeaux. The cost was about 25 Euros per person round trip ($33.00), but motorway tolls, gazole, parking and trolley fare would have easily cost half that amount.
Len hurrying to catch the train...
Happy Travelers! The trip takes a little over an hour, and is a nice way to relax and watch the countryside pass by. Miles of grape vines surround this grand old city which gives its name to the age-old Bordeaux Appelation, 

We left the train station for a nice stroll along the river toward the heart of the city. Bordeaux is the second largest city in France, and it's beautiful old buildings date back to about 1200. Many buildings are replacements for others much earlier.
The waters of the Garonne are always a bit muddy as it continuously picks up silt on its 375 mile journey from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic. Bordeaux has several city bridges which span these chocolate waters, this one called the Pont St Jean, and serves as a bridge for  pedestrians, electric trains and automobiles. 

We walked past the AquitaineGate which has stood on site since 1752, when it replaced its predecessor, the St Julien Gate which was built in the 1300's. 
The day was overcast and threatened rain, so the photographs belie the beautiful golden color of the Sainte-Macaire stone from which much of the city was constructed. The ravages of coal smoke, auto exhaust and acid rain had taken its toll on the stone, and about 5 years ago or so a program was begun to clean the stone and restore the city to its former glory. 

Squares and plazas abound in this lovely old city, many ringed with restaurants, such as this one where we ate lunch to the music of a medieval fountain. 
After lunch, we wandered thru the crowded narrow streets, 
bought a pair of fashionable French shoes for fall, and took a rest for a drink of water at a sidewalk cafe. 
This brand of water is more popular than Perrier, but has a more intense gassy taste. 

A wander back along the river, past the financial district "Bourse",

and old shops like this one, made us realize how blessed we are to experience the joys of travel. 

Tomorrow, off to the Dordogne! 

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