It captured my easy heart in a big way. Winding medieval streets, beautiful sunsets, quirky history, #pawned pavements, bouquet filled stems of wine, friendly locals, terracotta rooftops; all the things. Aaaand then I realised that I would have to learn French, and being somewhat language discombobulated (it's a real thing - learning English-English vs. Kiwi-English still confounds me some days) I knew it couldn't ever happen.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. We had 72 hours in which to wander, no plans, a few recommendations, a couple of hotels booked and an appetitite for joie de vivre.
The first morning (after a rather late, delayed flight out of London the evening prior) began with a coffee and a moment of idyllic contemplation on the shore of Le Lac before boarding the Bordeaux city trams. My schedule was super flexible; simply a soupcon of mooching, discovering a few art galleries and museums, pottering into cake shops and a touch of leaf kicking in the park.
I've heard from a few sources (including my flight seatmate) that Bordeaux is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance, thanks in part to a recent mayor getting the city cleaned up, cleaning off the claggy grey pollution from the beautiful stonework buildings, especially along the river front. Love him or hate him, he seems to be rather effective so far...
Architecture seems to vary curiously from brutalist modern structures all concrete, steel and glass corners, to delicate spires adorned with glorious allegorical statues carefully carved in warm, golden stone.
The art I found was was gloriously opulent; ornate golden frames and historical figures posing amongst momento mori telling complex stories, housed in stunning buildings with worn marble mosaic floors worthy of any buff's time.
We scaled (ok, the boy did) local church towers for breathtaking views and we discovered tram stops that were ridiculously photogenic (see immediately above the view from one. Seriously.)
We wandered here, we wandered there.
We peeked into courtyards, strolled through autumn leaves and took a billion photographs.
Sunset came, and we found ourselves hungry (as urban explorers do natch) and re-traced our route to a local burger joint where the service was sweet, slow and decidedly hilarious. I ordered a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious burger (getting a high-five from the waiter after he made me repeat it in proof of ability) only to discover it was a vegetarian lentil burger - see what I mean about not speaking the language - and watch as a birthday girl was delivered her dinner complete with sparklers and singed waiters eyebrows. Hilarious doesn't come close to a thorough description.
Sidenote: The roots of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious have been defined as follows: super- "above", cali- "beauty", fragilistic- "delicate", expiali- "to atone", and -docious "educable", with the sum of these parts signifying roughly "Atoning for educability through delicate beauty." According to the Mary Poppins film, it is defined as "something to say when you have nothing to say".
And that was only day one...