Like a Lo­cal, 48 Hours in Bordeaux

Kick-off the week­end by ad­mir­ing the Garonne River from your ho­tel bal­cony; at dawn the wa­ter is a vivid im­pres­sion­ist blue, the sil­hou­ettes of jog­gers stand out against an in­tense pink sky

Bordeaux J'Adore - - Contents - CLARE O’HA­GAN

Over the past three years Bordeaux has con­stantly ranked in the top

spot as a tourist des­ti­na­tion. Well­known travel guides rhap­sodise about the city’s ar­chi­tec­tural grandios­ity and lively gas­tro­nomic scene. But Bordeaux is not just a favourite hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, it’s also a star of the re­lo­ca­tion mar­ket. Parisians voted it their ideal French city to move to the last three years in a row. So why are we flock­ing here in such numbers? There’s a wide­spread per­cep­tion here in France, that the pace of life in the south­west is mel­lower, and that more time is taken over the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the finer things in life - food, wine, con­ver­sa­tion, time spent with fam­ily and the great out­doors. Bordeaux cap­i­talises on this ‘art de vivre’ (tal­ent for liv­ing) with its buzzing restau­rant scene and world class wines. It helps that the city is laid out on a hu­man scale so you can me­an­der from bar to restau­rant to mar­ket at a leisurely pace, and take in plenty of sites in just two or three days. They say you can’t bot­tle sun­shine, but per­haps the Borde­lais have cracked the for­mula.

Run­ning Cir­cuit

At any given time of day, be­tween dawn and night­fall, you’ll see a steady stream of run­ners and a trickle of Nordic walk­ers get­ting their en­dor­phin-fix on Bordeaux’s quays. One of the best ways to drink in the city’s grace­ful mix of clas­si­cal and con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture is to jog the 6.9 kilo­me­tre river­side loop, be­gin­ning at the foot of the 1822 Stone Bridge or Pont de Pierre. The route hugs the Garonne River tak­ing you past the sculp­tural Miroir d’eau, then past the busy restau­rants of the Quai des Chartrons and the ren­o­vated ware­houses of the Quai de Ba­calan, be­fore cross­ing the Pont Cha­ban-delmas over to the quiet, leafy right bank.

Break­fast at L’or­angerie, Jardin Pub­lic

On a warm, sun­lit morn­ing in Bordeaux, what could be more civilised than break­fast on the broad ter­race of L’or­angerie? With views over man­i­cured lawns shaded by an­cient oaks and cedars, the ter­race of­fers a truly re­lax­ing set­ting in which to sip café au lait, and nib­ble flaky crois­sants. This sun-trap is pop­u­lar with lo­cals who con­duct power break­fasts, while soak­ing up the rays. The el­e­gant park with semi-trop­i­cal shrub­bery was opened in 1746. Chil­dren can feed ducks and swans in the land­scaped ponds, then hit the play­grounds, or at­tend the Guig­nol Guérin pup­pet show, a lo­cal fix­ture since 1853. break­fast from €10; www.lo­r­angeriede­bor­

The Ca­pucins Mar­ket

On week­days this cov­ered mar­ket-place in vi­brant St. Michel is fre­quented by restau­ra­teurs shop­ping for sea­sonal veg­eta­bles, choice cuts of meat and the catch of the day. At week­ends, the ‘Belly of Bordeaux’ draws hoards of Borde­lais who grab cof­fee or brunch at one of the many ea­ter­ies, then for­age for high qual­ity pro­duce of all types. Restau­rants serve up ev­ery­thing from moules-frites and duck con­fit to tagines and An­dalu­cian tapas. Don’t be put off by the snaking queue for the herb stall. This fra­grant em­po­rium is worth the wait, you’ll only pay a euro or two for great bushels of pars­ley, sage, rose­mary and lemon thyme.

Open 7 days a week 7am-1pm; Tues­days some stall is closed

Open-air mar­ket on the Quays

Every Sun­day from 7 am un­til 3pm, sixty-odd stands ap­pear on the Quai des Chartrons sell­ing fresh pro­duce, flow­ers and sec­ond-hand books. You could grab lunch at one of the foodtrucks or pop-up restau­rants of­fer­ing au­then­tic paella, Sene­galese stews, falafel and ar­ti­sanal piz­zas. But most Borde­lais, es­chew the global street-food frenzy, pre­fer­ring to sit down and con­tem­plate the river over a dozen fresh Ar­ca­chon Bay oys­ters and a bot­tle of chilled white wine. If you fol­low suit you may con­cede, they know how to live.

Mol­lat Book­shop

France’s big­gest in­de­pen­dent book­store is a Borde­laise in­sti­tu­tion. This book-lover’s bliss is lo­cated in the for­mer home of the philoso­pher Mon­tesquieu. It opened in 1886, and cov­ers over 2500 square me­tres. Over 50 spe­cial­ist li­brar­i­ans are on hand to help you track down the book you want whether it’s a chil­dren’s story or an ob­scure sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tion. The English-lan­guage sec­tion is well-stocked with clas­sics and the lead­ing lights in lit­er­ary-fic­tion. You’ll find English edi­tions of travel guides for the city and the re­gion in the travel sec­tion.

Open­ing hours 9.30am-7.30pm, Sun­days 2pm-6pm

15, rue Vi­tal-car­les, 05 56 56 40 40

Brunch at the CAPC

Bordeaux’s mu­seum of con­tem­po­rary art oc­cu­pies a vast colo­nial-era ware­house. One of Bordeaux’s best-kept se­crets, is a large restau­rant with cathe­dral-like vaulted ceil­ings and a large, sun-trap ter­race. On Sun­days the brunch has built up a fol­low­ing thanks to the qual­ity of its sweet and savoury temp­ta­tions, and the gen­eros­ity of the spread. Think cheese, char­cu­terie, breads, seafood, savoury tarts, cakes, crème brûlée, per­fect pâtis­series, madeleines and fresh juices. Brunch is priced from €35 to €40 for adults and from €15 to €20 for chil­dren.

Le Café du Musée, En­trepôt Lainé, 7, rue Fer­rère

05 56 44 71 61

A Stroll through The Chartrons

For cen­turies Bordeaux wines were ma­tured and stored in this neigh­bour­hood’s cel­lars. English, Ir­ish and Flem­ish mer­chants set up shop here, ship­ping wine back home. Now a fash­ion­able ur­ban vil­lage, The Chartrons is per­fect for a post-pran­dial stroll. Browse the an­tiques shops and cloth­ing bou­tiques on the Rue Notre Dame, dip­ping into cher­ished lo­cal hang-out, Bar Notre Dame for a tip­ple. Pick up a bot­tle of lo­cally-pro­duced in­fused rum in ‘La Pe­tite Mar­tinique’, then fol­low the peace­ful back street to the in­ter­sec­tion with the Rue Borie. Here the Mu­seum of Wine and Trade gives a great in­sight into Bordeaux’s unique com­mer­cial her­itage. If you’re peck­ish af­ter­wards, Restau­rant Le Boucher is a tra­di­tional re­gional brasserie with a good rep­u­ta­tion.

Musée du Vin et du Né­goce, 41, rue Borie, 05 56 901 913

Apéri­tif on the wa­ter

If you think the Borde­lais pace of life is leisurely, then cross the river to the even more laid-back right bank. Bike or stroll over the Cha­ban-delmas bridge for an apéro at the Chantiers de La Garonne. This for­mer ship­yard is now a river­side beach bar beloved of the lo­cals, who flock here on balmy sum­mer evenings. Pull up a deckchair, plant your bare feet in the sand, then sam­ple the lo­cally-brewed craft beer, Dar­win. The menu cov­ers ocean-fresh clams, oys­ters, prawns or hot tapas, and if you’re feel­ing game, then sign up for a spot of kayak­ing or stand-up pad­dle at the wa­ter-sports club on­site. Parc d’ac­tiv­ités des Queyries, 21, quai des Queyries, 33100.

Satur­day night at the Movies

Why not catch a late-night film at the Utopia? Bordeaux’s art­house cin­ema is housed in a gor­geously re­fur­bished church. Ar­rive in ad­vance of the screen­ing and grab a cock­tail at an out­door ta­ble in the cin­ema’s bar over­look­ing the buzzing Place Camille Ju­lian. The Utopia’s pro­gramme is a care­fully cu­rated se­lec­tion of global cin­ema and the crème de la crème of French film-mak­ing. That said, un-dubbed Amer­i­can block-busters are shown if they are half-way in­tel­li­gent. Utopia, 5, place Camille Ju­lian


Mol­lat book­shop.


Open-air mar­ket on the quay des Chartrons, Sun­day morn­ing.


Sun­day morn­ing brunch at the CAPC.


Run­ning near the Garonne River with the view of Bourse Mar­itime in Chartrons district.




Ca­pucins Mar­ket.


Saint-pierre district in Bordeaux.


The lobby of the Utopia Cin­ema.

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