jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 35 [5 Mar 09] – Bordeaux

Posted in Bordeaux by jn82 on March 5, 2009

Took a two hour TGV ride to Bordeaux from Toulouse this morning which was pretty uneventful. This time we were in a “Club 4” seat which is two people facing another two people with a large table area in-between. This is ideal for four people traveling together, but not two as you have to face one other person for the whole journey, whether it be your travel mate or a stranger. Also, the leg room in this seating configuration is much less than a normal first class train seat.

Upon reaching Bordeaux, we realised it was totally different from Toulouse. Even after accounting for the fact that we were staying in a very dodgy area in Toulouse, the people (and places) in Bordeaux seemed to be much classier and refined than those in Toulouse. Everything was much cleaner! All the people in the streets seemed to be very well dressed in their branded clothes and pointed shoes, walking around without a care in the world, unlike in Toulouse when we were wondering when we would get mugged.

At the Bordeaux tourist information office, we signed ourselves up for a walking tour of the old city tomorrow morning, and for a wine and cheese tasting class later in the evening today. Pity that we would not be around here on Saturday as that was the next scheduled tour to Médoc and St. Emilion, two of the best well known Bordeaux wine growing areas. There was not that much in terms of sightseeing within the city itself which interested us as they were mostly art museums, so we just went to a cathedral and a tower beside it this afternoon prior to the wine and cheese thing.

The first stop was to Cathédrale Saint-André, a UNESCO world heritage site. Most of the cathedral was built in the 13th-14th century, with certain parts built as early as the 10th century.

Outside of Cathédrale Saint-André.

Inside Cathédrale Saint-André.

Following this, we headed next door to Tour Pey-Berland, originally intended to be built as a bell tower for the Cathédrale Saint-André to protect the building from the vibrations of the bells. Not super interesting, but the view of Bordeaux after walking some 283 steps up a very narrow spiral staircase is pretty good.

Tour Pey-Berland.


And of course, it won’t be France without some protest in the streets or a strike, in this case a protest about hospital funding or something.

After the tower, we went for our wine and cheese tasting! Pretty interesting as we were given information abount the Bordeaux wine growing regions as well as the grape varieties used. One interesting fact is that it is illegal to use any forms of artifical irregation techniques for the grape vines in the Bordeaux region, and the grape vines only source of water is naturally from underground water sources. After testing two wines, we were given some cured meats to eat, as well as given the chance to go and pick as much cheese as we want from an underground cheese cellar with what I estimate to be close to 70 varieties of cheese. It was pretty weird being in a small room with nothing but cheese and the power to go and cut and eat as much as you wanted from the various blocks of cheese. Now cheese does not really excite me, but I know Mom and Gail would have loved this opportunity, so I picked and tried many on their behalf.

The source of cheese.

The bluest and smelliest of them all.

My self-serve cheese platter.

My cheese plate and glass of Château Plantier Rose Cru Bourgeois Saint-Estephe from the Médoc region of Bordeaux.

By about two-thirds way through I was feeling pretty sick, but I trudged on to finish the cheese. This was really a cheese overkill experience, so much so that I did not have dinner tonight because of the cheese, nor am I having any form of cheese for at least a month. This was not the usual situation where I tried to get my money’s worth, but I was genuinely interested to try the many various cheeses, since when in Rome…

Picture of the day:

Super intellectual profession…wonder what that is to the French? Definately nothing to do with banking.

Link to all of today’s pictures here.


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