Relax and go to Bordeaux

vineyard

All right now, it has been a long winter, with a great (but reasonable) amount of workload, so when we saw spring vacations coming, we wondered with my wife where to go : Lisbon, Madrid, London, Berlin, Rome, Vienna ? Then we remembered France is the world’s leading tourist destination, with wonderful regions and some of them we didn’t even visit.

On our wishlist is Tourraine with its gorgeous castles, Burgundy with its great wines and gastronomy, and the Bordeaux region, world famous destination for people who like wine, but also home of the “three M” : Montaigne, Montesquieu, and Mauriac (eventually, we only saw one of those residences). The effective argument was that my wife has a cousin living in Bordeaux, and so do I, of course we decided this time to go visit Bordeaux…and our cousins !

Bridge

Bordeaux is located in the south-western part of France, in the Aquitaine region, along the Garonne river. Of course this is a decisive location for trade, that’s why Bordeaux has been for centuries one of the most important cities in France. For a long time home of a commercial harbour, the north part of the city along the river is now a landmark for trendy boutiques and popular bars. Sometimes you almost think you’re in Paris, sometimes you may believe you’re in New York City !

Apollo

The town holds many beautiful pieces of architectural heritage, among them the Saint-Michel Basilica, which bell tower is independent from the church, it’s very curious (yes, it’s the one on the second photo from top). Bordeaux is also home of the largest independent bookstore in France : librairie Mollat. Its leader recently published a manifesto defending independent boookstores, here is what the store looks like from the outside :

Outside Mollat

and of course we did hang around its gorgeous shelves :

Inside Mollat

 

After three days in Bordeaux, we hit the west to drive around the bassin d’Arcachon, a very peculiar natural space just beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Here you have the opportunity to visit tiny typical fishing villages :

Lake

 

You can climb the largest and highest dune in Europe, the great dune of Pyla :

Dune

 

Or you can stroll around Arcachon winter town, which has the outmoded charm of 20th century seaside resorts with its gardens full of flowers and its surprising villas, for instance the Alexander Dumas villa :

Villa

 

Then it was time to go back to Bordeaux’s hinterland, more precisely the Entre-Deux-Mers region, where we were lucky to visit François Mauriac’s historical domain : Malagar. Not so much tourists the day we went (and not so good weather, too), so we quite had a personal visit, with a great presentation of the life of this important literary figure of the 20th century.

Malagar

And I discovered back in Rennes that a novel around this subject just got published, for a matter of fact the cover photo looks very similar to mine, isn’t it ?

Malagar2

 

Entre-Deux-Mers is a famous wine producing region, you can visit vineries like Cadillac-Côtes-de-Bordeaux, you’re close to Pessac-Léognan and it’s also the home of the Graves vineyards, we didn’t want to miss the Maison des Vins de Graves where we bought a few red and white wines :

Graves

 

Our last day was a sunny day, so before driving back to Brittany, we had a wonderful time at one of the most famous wine city in the world, Saint-Emilion, it’s on the Unesco World Heritage List :