Playing Cinderella in Bordeaux France

What does the pitter patter of rain remind you of? For myself, it brings back nostalgia from my childhood.   When I was a young child, I recall summers spent in my parents’ ancestral homeland.  There among the thick smoke of a humid summer, citizens would look forward to the skies opening up and unleashing torrential downpour to quench the thirst of the dried land.   My cousins and I – some apart only months in age, would huddle together on a charpaia traditional netted settee and peer with owl eyes full of amazement as the impact of sizzling raindrops against hot concrete would cause a gauzy smoke to arise from the floor.  And then, in childlike jubilance at a respite from the equatorial heat, one or the other of the lot of children would jump off the charpai and go dashing bare footed into the rain. 

Over the years, that type of innocent childlike abandon has given way to cursing the rain.  Bad hair days, wet socks and Murphy’s law at never having an umbrella in the rain have since taken over these fond memories.   Until recently…

Bordeaux, France is a city in southwestern France. Known for not only its robust and hearty wine culture, but also for being a “mini Paris.”  The rivalry between residents of Bordeaux and residents of Paris over whom may claim to be more artistic, tolerant and open minded is centuries old.  Bordeaux invented Bordelaise steak sauce, and supplies Emirates Airlines with the red wine served in business class.  Unknown to most, Bordeaux is infamous also for its delicious duck foie gras (outlawed in many places in the world), as well as for one fact I learned on a hot October night.  No taxis!

Rain slicked Place Gambetta

Rain slicked Place Gambetta

My friends and I had taken a taxi a brief 5km from our centrally located flat just off the stylish and iconic Place Gambetta and wound up at a gorgeous outdoor café.  We were on a mission to eat our way through the Bordeaux wine country, one Michelin restaurant at a time.   As we sat distracted and laughing the night away, we noticed most patrons had gotten up to leave in haste. When we asked our server where everyone was running to, he responded that the taxis ceased operation at midnight.  We then asked about public transport.  He responded that too was shut down for the night.

And then we all looked at each other, a slow panic spreading around the table.  Laughing that life is about the journey, we resolved to walk back to our apartment in the warm autumn night.

Then it started to rain.  No, that’s not accurate. Then it started to POUR.  It poured seeming buckets of water out of the sky.  As though a canopy holding all the year’s water had been punctured, drenching the tiny city this one October night.   As we began to walk, sans umbrellas through the city.  A giddy merriment overtook me.

Rain Starts to Pour

Rain Starts to Pour

The absurdity of the situation, adults “stranded” in the rain, with no real method of getting miles home in the dead of night.  And, my feet, began to move.  A little dance at first-  just a little skip.  Then a song from my childhood, about , lo and behold, dancing in the rain.  And suddenly, madness overtook me.  I was singing, and I was dancing in the rain.  For once in my over thought out life, I was living in the MOMENT.  And my friends, perplexed, began to laugh.  They too realized the absurdity of the situation , and pretty soon you had a merry lot of Americans, practically dancing and skipping their way home. 

Later, as I saw my beautiful shoes had been destroyed, I could not stop giggling.   It had only taken twenty some odd years, to remember, that sometimes, you just have to dance in the rain. 

Best of Bordeaux:

Stay

Airbnb.com  had the best assortment of clean serviced apartments.  Otherwise check out Le Grand Hotel de Bordeaux set on a gorgeous square overlooking the city’s prettiest museum.  Also a bonus, the most delicious macaron and sweets store is directly adjacent.  A bonus that city’s tram runs right out front (although you are better off exploring the city on foot)

 Eat

Le GABRIEL – Bordeaux – a gorgeous and refined Michelin restaurant, the tables book up fast, so best to book this in advance of your trip.

Foie Gras Lafitte – the best place to pick up some authentic and delightfully fatty foie gras to delight yourself or for a special loved one.  The prices are not nearly as expensive as in the States or otherwise, but be prepared to shell out for quality.

Le Pavillon des Boulevards– the chef knows how to present French classics.  If you are searching for a perfect Duck Confit, look no further. 

Le Rince-Doigts – Brasserie du Pécheur – Solid steaks, and don’t forget that Bordelaise sauce was invented in Bordeaux !

Shop

Don’t!  All the prettiest and priciest brands are present in Bordeaux, but I must impress that it’s a town to eat your way through. Don’t spend time in the stores !

And don’t forget, the Taxis don’t run after midnight Cinderella!

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