26.04.2011 - 26.04.2011 24 °C
We woke up very early this morning, 4:40am to be exact. With four other roommates we tried our very best to be quiet. We had everything ready to go the night before, we didn’t turn on any lights and made minimal noise. As a result Shane forgot his favourite hat and sunglasses, which really sucks, because now we gotta buy a new one. We checked out of the hostel and grabbed a croissant (free!) which we ate while walking down the street. At 4:50 in the morning we started our 3km walk to the train station. It was an experience in itself to be up before anyone else walking down the streets of Paris. The air was warm, I was only wearing shorts, but still free of the heat from the sun. The only people we came across were the few setting up the Montparnasse market stalls, which would open a few hours later.
We arrived with a few minutes to spare and bought some espresso from a vending machine(weird). We hopped on our train and settled in for our ride, which ended up being just about 3 hours. An hour in Shane made his way to the dining car and bought us some more espresso and another croissant, which we proceeded to flake all over our seats.
The train ride to Bordeaux was uneventful. We weren’t totally sure, given that we only had one night here, we really wanted to come, but after we had been in the city for only 30 minutes we knew we had made the right decision. Bordeaux is a small town, only about the size of Abbotsford but it gives such a sense of belonging. The trams run all over town and the parks are magnificent. The people we came across were so helpful and giving and never ONCE did we feel unsafe, which is crazy for my psychotically paranoid husband to say. The whole city is a beautiful mix of old world styles and natural beauty, where the cracking buildings with their peeling paint combine nicely with twisted green vines and colourful patio flower boxes.
We found our hostel fairly easily and because we were feeling extremely dirty we asked the reception dude for the closest laundromat. He directed us just a block away and recommended a cafe just across the way with wifi which turned out to be very cute (and useful.)
It took an hour to do our laundry, but that gave us enough time to get on the internet and tie up some loose ends. We felt so much better knowing our clothes didn’t stink like something awful. We stashed our bags at the hotel and asked for the reception dude’s favourite canel store and then for a restaurant recommendation. He gladly (we think) gave us both.
First we (got a little lost) found the store selling cannels, something Bordeaux is famous for. The little cakes are baked in metal tins in a funny solution that makes the shells crispy and the interiors silky and smooth, I was very impressed with them. Then we walked back to our street and checked out a restaurant that had looked very promising earlier, La Chaperon Rouge. We walked in and were ushered to the back, to a table for two. The owner plunked down a carafe of red house wine on her way by and hurriedly asked something while pointing to a little table set in the middle of the restaurant where people were helping themselves to a first, second or third helping of food. We nodded and looked at each other wondering, slightly perplexed to exactly what was happening. It was as though the restaurant had a plan for us and we were just along for the ride. We took a few sips of wine and then I stood up. I took a plate from the end of the table and started filling my plate with all sorts of homemade french goodies. Pork pate, ham and cheese salad, house-made salami, perfectly cooked potatoes, lightly dressed mushrooms, hard boiled eggs, cooked asparagus, balsamic dressed watercress. The list goes on, I wandered back to Shane, slightly dazed. The whole of the tiny restaurant was packed with locals clearly on break from work. We worked our way through one plate each and then went back for a little more. The wine we drank, then moved on to water. The owner came by eventually, “you want more food?” she asked, “no” we answered “full up to here” motioning to the top of my head. “Coffee? Dessert?” Could we say no? Moments later she brings two perfect espresso and a creme caramel to share. We enjoyed our meal immensely, it was like someone invited us into their house for lunch,an amazing experience. And the whole thing, 20 euros, the bargain of the century.
After our blissful lunch we checked into our hotel, showered and took a nap. Around 5:30 we left to find some dinner, which we ate in a park. None of the food was that memorable except for dessert which we bought from a boulangerie named Paul’s that seems to be the favourite around here. Tartelette au citron meringue. It was so good! The crust was perfectly delicate and the lemon curd was not very sweet, just how it should be, tart. And the meringue was like eating a cloud with just the perfect crust on top. I’m sure I’ll never be able to replicated such an amazing dessert.
We walked around for a bit before we bought some cheap (1 euro per bottle) Heineken and drank it on the boardwalk watching the locals run, bike and rollerblade for their evening exercise. A fittingly low-key ending to a fairly relaxing day.