Bourdeaux and its beach town Cap Ferret, were hot.
The Southwestern wine capital, which, after Paris, has the most registered monuments in France, looked stunning with the cloudless bright blue summer sky as a backdrop.
The Grand Théâtre, which stands at Place de la Comédie, is an excellent place to start admiring Old Bourdeaux.
A 5-minute walk toward the waterfront, The Place des Quinconces, Europe’s largest square, serves as the city’s most important public transport hub.
At the center, the Monument aux Girondins commemorates the Girondists, a political group that initially supported the French Revolution but ended up being one of the first casualties of the Reign of Terror.
Keep walking towards the water and make a right along the promenade. In 8 minutes, you’ll find Place de la Bourse, where the people destroyed King Louis XV’s statue.
Across the street, the 2006 Water Mirror (photo featured) is the world’s largest reflecting pool, a much-needed oasis to relieve the 100+ F temperature.
The Port Calihau or Calihau Gate will take your breath away just five minutes back into the town.
Functioning as the main entrance into medieval Bordeaux, it was built in 1495 to celebrate King Charles VII’s victory at the Battle of Fornovo.
The 1750 Roman-style Port de Bourgogne is another jewel. It was created by the legendary architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, famous for redesigning the Petit Trianon at Versailles and Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Venture westward towards the medieval town through the Cr Victor Hugo, and you’ll come upon the 15th-century Grosse Cloche at rue Saint-James.
The old Hôtel de Ville bell tower used to announce the harvest season, and it’s the city’s symbol, as seen on the coat of arms.
The culmination of several of the city’s main streets, Place de la Victoire, is one of the main squares.
It features the Porte d’Aquitaine—a 17th-century stone arch—and a 2005 bronze and marble obelisk to commemorate wine production.
Finally, it was time to quench my thirst with a well-deserved glass of local vin, which I fittingly drank across from the Bourdeaux Cathedral, where Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII in 1137. Cheers to them!
Nearby, admire the Palais Rohan (City Hall). Constructed in the 1770s as the Archbishop’s Palace of Bordeaux, it also served as the Gironde department prefecture after the French Revolution.
It was almost 8 PM, despite what a bright sun and a 95-degree temperature might’ve suggested. Time to go back to my digs, figure out dinner and pack for tomorrow’s check out.
Shoutout to Cleo and Ahmed from Maison Fernand, who made sure I enjoyed my stay in and out of their charming B&B, accompanying me via WhatsApp with recommendations and securing a table at the coveted Restaurant LouLou.
As per Ahmed’s advice, I checked out the Chartrons District, located northeast of the capital’s historical center, the following day.
Strolling through this mix of bourgeois and bohemian, built in the 14th century and lined with lovely wine bars and antique shops, was a delight.
Highlights include the Church of Saint-Louis-des-Chartrons, the ancient protestant Temple des Chartrons and the CAPC Contemporary Art Museum of Bordeaux.
It was time for Le Ferret, 45 miles west of Bourdeaux and accessible via coach from Place des Quinconces.
The region is famous for outstanding oyster farming, the magnificent Dune of Pilat and its iconic lighthouse.
Most impressive to this WW2 nerd were the ammunition bunkers or “Pill Boxes” built by the Germans to protect the entrance to Arcachon Bay against Allied invasion.
Some graffiti-covered structures are still visible, albeit in different spots from where they were constructed due to erosion.