As I said yesterday, I took the bus from Begles where Tantine and Tonton live into the city. It is very close, I think that the bus ride took all of 15 minutes, I got off at the Place Gambetta, Gambetta was a man who I think figured very prominently in recent 20th century French history. I used to know but I learned about Mister Gambetta over twenty years ago so it is very foggy, I will go out on a limb and say that it might have been around the 1930’s? Anyway I took at least twenty pictures or so of everything that I saw that I felt deserved to be photographed and as soon as I get back I will upload the pictures to show just how beautiful the city is and how much it has changed in seven years. The Place Gambetta is circular so many streets intersect it like spokes on a wheel and I walked along one of the more elegant spokes Cours de l’Intendence, I would call it the Madison avenue of Bordeaux, all the top-notch boutiques are on both sides of the avenue; Lancel, Longchamps and others. I thought immediately when I turned onto the Cours that it looked so much more elegant now that all the traffic had been eliminated by the installation of the tramway system. I remember the street being incredibly busy with all kinds of traffic constantly, cars, trucks and buses. Now the street is open with the rare car and the tram that slowly goes up and down the street. Now when you walk along the Cours de l’Intendence, you can see all the beautiful boutiques and really see them without being distracted by all the noise and bustle of vehicular traffic. In my opinion the tram is a huge improvement on the beauty of Bordeaux and the efficiency of the transit system is something to be admired.
After the Cours de l’Intendence I turned right onto the Rue Sainte-Catherine, the famous pedestrian street of Bordeaux. At one point I took a picture to show the sea of people down the street because it reminded me a little of what Fifth Avenue looks like when you are at the higher point of the street and you look into the distance and all you see is an army of “ants” bustling up the avenue and down. The Rue Sainte-Catherine has always been my destination when I would go into Bordeaux clothes shopping because it is on this street that you have shops for every budget and every look. There is the department store Galeries Lafayette or if you like the boutique experience than you have more than enough to choose from; clothes, shoes, accessories, cosmetics and books, music and then if you are thirsty or hungry, there are plenty of cafe’s, brasseries and ice cream shops to choose from. I was tempted three times to have a little snack, I saw a high end purveyor of canneles and macarons at three different places and each time I went in, the shop lady was busy doing something else so I left, I am trying not to eat my way through France with dessert. I am focusing on the healthy delights, sugar not good, vegetables and fruit good. The canneles are the specialty of the Bordeaux region, I have made them at home and they are so, so, so good. It is a rich almost custard cake flavored with rum and the outside is richly caramelized, there is a ton of sugar in the batter in order to produce the intense golden caramel outside of the little cake, they aren’t big, two bites and it is gone but they are tremendously delicious. The macaron is another delight, France has been on a macaron kick for a few years now kind of like the cupcake craze in the United States, every patisserie offers them, they come in all different flavors. The macaron is essentially egg whites and sugar flavored with different ingredients formed into a small cookie, I was tempted by caramel beurre sale, and a creme between the two cookies. They are small and light and really good, but all sugar nevertheless.
After conquering my sugar demon, I walked over to the Quai’s at the river’s edge, the river is the Garonne and the transformation of the Quai or the docks is frankly amazing. The old warehouses haven’t been changed on the outside but the interiors have, they now house restaurants, boutiques of every kind, gyms offering sports, yoga, Pilates, Marshall arts and free weights. It is all along the length of the city, you have the pedestrian walkways, the bicycle routes, the roller blader skating way, there is a skateboard area, a basket ball area and tennis courts. The entire length is also incredibly landscaped, there were couples everywhere sitting on the grass surrounded by flowering plants, it was gorgeous. As you look across the cars and the tramway running along the boulevard you see the old facade newly cleaned and the city of Bordeaux is quite majestic in her beauty, the sense of history is incredible, coupled with its embrace of the future. I was very impressed.
I took pictures everywhere and I made sure to take a few of the Mexican sail boat docked on the Quai, it was a huge sail boat like the ones in the Pirates of the Caribbean but clean and in excellent condition and no Johnny Depp, alas. Later on at home on the news, they interviewed the Captain and his crew all from Mexico as they continue their world-wide voyage. A magnificent boat or ship, I forget the correct terminology.
I spent two hours walking and I can’t wait until next week when I can take the baby girl to see the city for herself, I know that she is going to love it. I am going to have to assemble a few packages to ship her purchases back home is my feeling knowing the baby girl as I do, lol.