After a wonderful day and evening in Saint Jean de Luz, we woke refreshed and rested.....I guess this town will do that to you. Before breakfast and heading off on the train to Bordeaux, we took a nice stroll around the town.
Down past the port down to the beach and back around to the street we stayed on.
We didn't know what to expect for breakfast, but it was quite substantial.....great fresh pressed coffee, and egg made to order....all by the wonderful owner of our little hotel.
We bade our farewells and headed off to the train station. Waiting for our train was, well interesting....while the Spanish were rather boisterous, fun loving, out-going....the French as a whole were very polite, precise, and in most cases to the point. We loved the contrasts in personalities....I told the Missus that the Spanish very social personality reminded me of the Chinese, while the more reserved, yet very polite French, the Japanese. Anyway, for some reason folks seemed confused about which track the train to Bordeaux would arrive on, and in spite of all the other folks there, they would undoubtedly ask me....the most "un-French" looking person you could possibly find. The Missus couldn't stop laughing....."je parle non Francais". Strange thing, even after saying that they would show me their tickets! And after the second time, I could figure out where the car they had seats on was stopping!
When we got to Gare Saint Jean, the train station, we found the tram that we needed...it was all easy, as the ticket machines had an "English button" that made selections simple. Then it happened again, folks in line kept asking me, very politely, how to use the machine! The Missus explained it away by telling me, "the French are asking the only Japanese they could find, because he thinks like them how to get to their destination......"
The location of our apartment was awesome, a few blocks from the city centre, bit not too close, and a short walk from the tram stop.
Our unit was not quite ready when we arrived, so we dropped things off and set out to explore. We were also quite close to one of the city squares, Place des Quinconces, and were quickly noticed the Monument aux Girondins, built in the 1880's to commemorate the Girondins from Bordeaux, who were executed by Robespierre during the Reign of Terror.
The column itself is made up of several pieces, each of which has a meaning, from the statue at the top which represents the spirit of liberty, to the three lying at the feet of the horses in the fountain representing Ignorance, Lie and Vice.
From here it was a short walk to the area called the "Golden Triangle". There was a place I had marked on my Google Maps along the way. Years ago, the Bordeaux Wine Council wisely bought a 18th century building near the center of the city. In this building, the wine council holds a Wine School and Classes (L’école du vin), being a somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to wine, I would have loved taking those classes, but it was too early in the season for those.
What we really enjoyed was the wine bar located on the premises; Bar a Vin. First off, the prices were amazingly reasonable....even though we'd find that everyday table wine in Bordeaux was very affordable, here we could have a generous pour of a Chateau Landreau Bordeaux Superior for 3 Euros, then have the Server explain to us what the designation of a Supérieur is; the wine must be aged at least 12 months and the wines are from "old stock:, meaning vines of a certain age, along with the actual land the grapes were grown on being documented as parcels that have been growing grapes for a certain amount of time.
Folks that read this blog regularly know that I'm more of a beer guy, but all of this fascinates me...plus, the Missus enjoys a nice glass of wine...nothing fancy per se, but a nice glass. And with the pretentiousness that sometimes surrounds the consumption of wine, it's really nice to have a place like Bar a Vins. It also puts things into perspective; wine is something for everyday.....
We seem to have our favorite places when we travel. Those places that we visit more than once on our trips.....Bar a Vin, with the wonderful staff, the bright and friendly setting, and the location was one of these.
Bar a Vin
3 Cours du 30 Juillet
We then headed down to the Grand Theatre a few blocks away.
More on this beautiful building in a future post, because there was something that immediately grabbed our attention.
Across the way was a piece of modern art, a bronze head that completely mesmerized us. It was flat, yet looked so real and alive...angles were everything....was it 2D or 3D, or 2.5D? It depended on the angle you viewed it. After getting into the apartment, I found out this was by Catalan Artist Jaume Plensa. It just looked so real that we were stunned.....
I'm still not sure what it was about this bronze sculpture that always got our attention, but we could not help but stop whenever we passed it and view it first from one angle....then move over a bit and check it out from another.
It's always nice to find something you don't expect that catches you attention this way.
We then headed down the major shopping street, Cours de l’Intendance....the Missus loved this street and I ended up spending a few Euros here later on.
While walking down the street, I noticed this......
It was a plate with the profile of Goya on it. Goya? I'd seen his works at the Prado Museum in Madrid, I knew he lived in Madrid, I have a postcard of his rather disturbing work; Saturn Devouring His Son on my desk....a reminder for me that things are never as bad as you think. But why Bordeaux? Well, it turns out that Goya left Spain in 1824, accompanied by his "maid and companion" Leocadia Weiss and lived at this residence until his death. All these facts I never learned in school.....
Down one of the many arteries that feed into the large main street and squares, we found a large church; the Church of Notre Dame (Eglise Notre-Dame).
The Baroque stylings caught our eye and we decided to check the place out.
The interior belies the rather over embellished exterior. I really enjoyed the simple, yet elegant stonework. The light really enhanced the choir, as it seemed to come down from the heavens.
What was interesting, even here, in the square where the Eglise Notre-Dame stood, there was the presence of Francisco Goya, as his statue stands in Place du Chapelet, a few steps from the church.
It does make some sense as Goya's funeral was held at Eglise Notre-Dame....and yet, it seemed quite interesting that a city in France would celebrate the life of a Spanish artist!
Well, at least here, Goya Lives!
Ok, enough of that....by now our apartment would be ready. It was time to head back there; freshen up, and then get some lunch.
Thanks for reading!