Bordeaux: Le Vin et le Sable

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We had gorgeous weather for our weekend getaway to Bordeaux last month, which made wandering through vineyards, soaking in the city’s beautiful architecture and climbing Europe’s largest sand dune particularly delightful. I wasn’t expecting the city of Bordeaux itself to be so cool — It’s filled with sidewalk cafes, interesting bars and students having picnics on the grass along the river. Gui and I met my two friends from grad school there for a weekend adventure and by the end I was googling the cost of rent for flats near the waterfront. Maybe one day 🙂

After flying in late Friday after work, Gui and I picked up our rental car and drove straight to the hotel, resisting the temptation to stop at the McDonalds we spotted along the way. We met our friends early the next morning and drove to St Emillion to visit Château de Pressac for a tour of the estate and a tasting. We got a kick out of indulging in wine so close to breakfast and even got to meet the owner, who I accidentally informed that Gui’s son lives in Montreal (I meant his brother). Oops.

Next, we drove to the town of St Emillion and tried the famous canelé dessert of the Bordeaux region from a local bakery (not my favorite sweet but mine may have been burned). We saw a family exiting and locking the bell tower, which piqued our interest, so we went to the tourist office and borrowed our own key to enter and see the lovely view. Afterward, we had a successful shopping stop in a cute boutique before sitting down to lunch in one the town squares, padding our bellies for our next wine tasting.

We had planned to do three tours/tastings but we stayed a bit later in St Emillion than planned, so the second stop in Médoc was our last. We visited Château Lanessan, which had a lovely Scottish-looking manor house and picturesque garden, and, of course, some top-notch red wines. On the drive back, we stopped by Château d’Agassac (which would have been tasting #3) to catch a glipse of the estate and then drove back to Bordeaux to sightsee. That evening we had a delicious Tibetan dinner at le Shambhala (veggie friendly!), visited the Mirroir d’eau to satisfy my photography cravings and then ate some fabulous cones of ice cream by the river from la Maison du Glacier. A lovely day.
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The following morning we headed to la Cité du Vin (Bordeaux’s wine museum, which is shaped like a decanter) and spent the morning thoroughly entertained by their interactive exhibits. My favorite were the high-tech dioramas — I would highly recommend a visit if you’re even a little interested in wine. Plus, the entrance fee includes a glass of a wine of your choice in the rooftop bar and I had an absolutely delicious sparkling rosé (I know, not very Bordeaux, but I couldn’t help it). The first photo below shows the chandelier of clear wine bottles covering the entire ceiling of the bar.

For lunch, we ordered tasty pizzas at the cute Italian restaurant across the street and then dropped my friend at the airport to catch her flight back to Ireland. Our flight was much later that night, so we decided to drive 45 minutes to Dune de Pilat to see Europe’s largest sand dune in the meantime.

Verdict? It was super rad. You see forest and trees and then all of a sudden a giant sand dune appears, towering high above the tree line. To reach the top, you can either use the built-in stairs or hike up the sand directly — We chose the latter because it seemed more authentic and it turned out to be a good calf workout 🙂

Afterward, we stopped in the town of Arcachon for another round of ice cream — what can I say, the weather demanded it — and a bit more shopping before driving back to the airport to catch our flight. I set off the metal detector and then the explosive detector twice at security, but after 20 minutes of back-and-forth and paperwork I was finally allowed to pass through (and did not explode). Bordeaux: We will surely be back.

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