Inside the Cathedral of Saint-André, where Eleanor of Aquitaine married the future King Louis VII of France in 1137
Some of the imposing neo-classical architecture
We decided to spend almost a week in Bordeaux, and so far the place is living up to my high expectations. Bordeaux combines so much of what we love about European cities — monumental architecture, great city planning, and lots of urban energy.
The city wraps around a smooth curve of the Garonne river and it is really loaded up with 19th century neo-classical architecture. Huge swaths of the city center have been pedestrianized, and the urban core has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The streets are teeming with public art, street performances, and people enjoying it all.
The Garonne is lined with both architectural wonders and stunning parklands
Yesterday we took a train to the seaside town of Arcachon, where we rented bikes and rode out to a sand dune called the Dune de Pilat. Even knowing that this was the largest sand dune in Europe, I wasn’t really expecting all that much. I mean, what’s the big deal about a hill of sand between the beach and the shore? You see that in lots of beach areas.
But once we get there it was pretty incredible — a truly massive pile of sand with a life of its own. It apparently moves several meters a year, slowly swallowing up the forest inland. It’s already taken out some roads and buildings as well, including a hotel. After an arduous climb to the top we were rewarded with incredible views — and our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean since we left Boston!
Lots of cool public art
Today we are embarking on another day trip out of town to encounter some of what Bordeaux is really known for — wine. I’m intrigued whether an all-day visit to wine country here will enhance my relationship to Bordeaux wines, which I have never really understood. This region produces the most celebrated and expensive wines in the world, yet I have rarely (including in the last three days here) tasted a Bordeaux wine that did not taste to me like licking a Band-Aid.
Like the rest of the city, our hotel is a really buzzing spot, including a lively bar where they make great drinks
Making the long trudge up the massive Dune de Pilat
The dune sits between the Atlantic and the forest it keeps taking over
Rewarded with great views of the Atlantic ocean