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Report 2068: Going for the Gold in France. Part 3: Dawdling in the Dordogne

By Roz from California, Summer 2013

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Page 10 of 12: Sunday June 30, 2013: Bordeaux

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Outside the wine museum in Bordeaux

Weather partly cloudy and nice -- improving right before we were leaving.

Setting out to experience as much of Bordeaux as we could on a single Sunday, we walked from the hotel through an avenue of trees to the long pedestrian path along the river. Bordeaux has cleaned up its downtown quite a bit in recent years. The riverfront area is beautiful, and a very popular spot for walkers, boaters, and bikers on a sunny Sunday. There was a big market (mostly food) in the Chartrons area along the river, which was attracting large crowds.

We visited the contemporary art museum (CAPC). It had a few interesting pieces, but mostly it didn't particularly appeal to us. We preferred our next stop, the Wine and Trade Museum (Le Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux). Housed in the cellars of an 18th-century building, it has an interesting exhibit about the history of the wine trade in Bordeaux (captions in French and English). The visit ended with a tasting of two Bordeaux wines (a white and a red) with a very good commentary by a young woman who spoke excellent English. She was quite surprised when we told her that Napa wines, comparable to the Bordeaux we tasted, would have cost at least three times as much per bottle. M.liked the red Bordeaux we sampled well enough to buy a bottle (at €8), even though we didn't really have time to drink it and ended up leaving about half of it for the hotel chambermaid.

Another art experience as we walked around Bordeaux was the sculptures by French artist Jaume Plensa, exhibited all over town in public spaces. We had first seen his work in Nice -- large, seated figures glowing at night in changing colors, perched atop high poles around the Place Massena. In Bordeaux eleven monumental Plensa sculptures were on display. Some of them were fashioned in such a way that people could go inside them and get a whole different perspective. I liked happening upon them as we walked around the city, and watching how people interacted with them.

We had dinner that night at a well-reviewed little seafood bistro called Le Petit Commerce. I had a platter of various very fresh shellfish, while M chose a salmon filet that he didn't have to wrestle with. The house white Bordeaux wine was excellent. The bistro is actually two restaurants facing each other on opposite sides of the street. We appreciated the fact that when we went into one of them, the hostess took one look at us and suggested we might be happier on the other side of the street, where the band just setting up behind her would not be blasting in our ears. That was definitely true!

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