Our much anticipated Road Scholar trip to France began with a long airplane ride from Phoenix through Detroit and Amsterdam and finally the city of Bordeaux. We arrived a day early to get acclimated.
A wine bottle at the curb on arrival at the airport was evidence of the importance of wine in France.
Our hotel, Bordeaux Bayonne Etche Ona, was located in the city center on a narrow historic street just off a main street, Cours de l’Intendance. Since we arrived at the noon hour, our room was not ready but they were happy to store our luggage while we looked around the city for a bit.
The hotel was near a big plaza called the Grands Hommes where streets and tramways intersect and the Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel is located. Across the plaza is the Opera National de Bordeaux, a very impressive building. Dave stopped in front of the hotel to get his bearings on Google Maps. You can see the statues atop the opera house in the background.
The plaza at night with the Intercontinental Hotel lit up. It was a cool evening but the French people love to sit at cafe tables and sip espresso and chat.
We had reservations for dinner within walking distance of the hotel but we were ready early so walked through the neighborhoods past a small garden at Place Gambetta.
Racines restaurant with chef David Gallacher opened it’s doors at 7:30pm which is the normal hour for the evening meal service. They were booked for the evening and we were lucky to have reservations.
This was a lovely haute-cuisine meal accompanied by wine, wonderful bread and espresso with dessert. The French often start an evening meal with an aperitif of Cassis or Champagne and end with espresso after dessert. Sitting next to us were two Asian-looking young women who were American born and working as lawyers in New York City. They were from Houston and San Diego. We had a nice visit.
We walked back to the hotel, entrance just below the lighted blue sign, and fell into bed.
The next morning we took breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast bar included everything you could imagine, including an egg coddling water bath machine that I didn’t get up the courage to try. Dave got his usual granola and yogurt so he was happy.
The breakfast room was simple but elegant.
Since our group tour was not to begin until later in the day, we had some time to explore.
The Monument aux Girondists in the Place des Quinconces commemorates the French Revolution. There is a bronze rooster at the base. The rooster is a symbol of the French spirit. The Quinconces (the name comes from the staggered rows of trees on each side of this space) is a large area near the riverfront where festivals are held.
From here we walked to a nice garden.
It is spring in Bordeaux. Dave is standing beside a topiary basket filled with flowers.
Outside and inside the Saint Louis des Chartrons church and to the Garrone riverwalk.
The riverfront has been completely refurbished since the city realized that tourism dollars drove the economy here. There is a walkway all along the river that people throng to especially on nice days like this one.
The Place de La Bourse is mirrored on the water feature called the Water Mirror which emits a mist that kids love to play in and then it fills with an inch or two of water becoming the mirror.
River cruise ships can be seen docked along the quai in the distance and in the other direction the Pont de Pierre bridge which is getting new piers to keep it from sinking.
Dave stands in front of Porte Cailhau, one of the old city gates from when Bordeaux had walls. We walked along the street named Cours du Chapeau Rouge, Red Hat Street, now a pedestrian avenue of shops and galleries. Uphill all the way to our hotel near the Grands Hommes plaza and it’s Carousel.
I’m sure we stopped for lunch somewhere but I have no recollection of it. We are scheduled to meet with our Road Scholar group this afternoon and go to dinner this evening. Back to the hotel to freshen up.