Road Trip to Bordeaux, France

Posted: 20th August 2010 by Luciano Araujo in Photography, Summer 2010 in France

The lead developer for the EnTiMid project, Gregory, is originally from the Bordeaux region and he was kind enough to setup a road trip to Bordeaux and the region around it. We left Rennes on a Friday morning and headed south for the 6 hour drive to Bordeaux. As we were leaving Rennes, we saw two hitchhikers with a sign that said Nantes so Greg decided to stop and pick them up since the road to Bordeaux passes through Nantes. I was quite surprised to see how normal he thought this was and had no fear whatsoever to pick up strangers on the side of the road. I wouldn’t do that in the US and definitely not in Brasil. The hitchhikers were a hippie couple and did not speak English so my communication with them was limited. Greg chatted with them quite a bit and within an hour we arrived at Nantes where we dropped them off at a tram station.

Early Evening - Bordeaux, France

Early Evening - Bordeaux, France

We continued our trip south and a few hours after passing through Nantes the scenery began to change. I started to see massive fields of sunflowers, wheat, corn, and of course grape. Lots of grape trees! We drove by the city of Cognac where the famous drink is from. One thing I want to note is how expensive the tools are in France. In the region of Bretagne the roads are free, but once we leave that region, we pay! :( It cost us 26E one way down south to Bordeaux!

Cows at Lunch - Bordeaux, France

Cows at Lunch - Bordeaux, France

Rolls of Palha - Bordeaux, France

Rolls of Palha - Bordeaux, France

We arrived in Bordeaux and after checking in the hotel we went to have dinner at the main square where I tried the local specialty, Confit du Canard. This is a deep friend duck leg served with fries and salad. The duck is extremely tender and flavorful. After dinner we walked around the city and as the sun went down the buildings and streets became more charming with a special glow. The people on the streets and cafes were quite young and there is a great sense of relaxation from the people. Different from Rennes, the crowd here is a bit older and I felt more comfortable being around mid twenties people at the bars.

Water Mirror at Night - Bordeaux, France

Water Mirror at Night - Bordeaux, France

Confit du Canard - Bordeaux, France

Confit du Canard - Bordeaux, France

Empty Street at Night - Bordeaux, France

Empty Street at Night - Bordeaux, France

We basically went to most touristy spots at night and I shot some great photos at the water mirror in front of the Place de la Bourse. This area was my favorite in Bordeaux! It seats right in front of the river and people are all over the boardwalk biking, running, drinking, playing music, etc. We had a big day planned ahead of us at the wine villages around Bordeaux so we decided to call it a night early and get some rest.

Wine, wine, and wine! This basically describes our day on Saturday. We started by visiting the very nice little town of Saint-Émilion. The town itself is very small and seats up on a hill, but the region around it is full of Chateaux (wineries). Up to where the eye can see, massive fields of grapes fill the landscape. I tried some wine at a local store and bought a bottle for 6E. We then continued our way to the city of Saint-Laurent-des-Combes where I tried more wine! Gregory has a friend that owns a Chateaux and he invited us to have lunch at his house that day followed by a personal tour of his property Chateaux Haut-Jean-Redon. We enjoyed a nice BBQ lunch that was made on the grass outside his house in front of a large field of grape trees. We started with a bottle of champagne, then followed by a bottle of rose with the salad and completed with a bottle of red! Appart from the champagne, all of the wine we had was made by him and it was quite good. They didn’t speak any english but they spoke slow enough that I would understand almost everything. The owner of the winery is very laid back and absolutely loves to drink wine! I think he drinks about 2-3 bottles a day. :) Nothing wrong with that! Once we were done with lunch and quite buzzed off all the wine, we took a short drive over to his Chateaux where he showed me how he does everything. From planting and cultivating the grape trees, to the aging and labeling the bottles. So this is what a typical bottle of Bordeaux wine is composed of: the root of the tree is American, the glass bottle is from Spain and the cork is from Portugal. His chateaux is a small production and he bottles and boxes his wine. He mainly sells to the local markets in France and he was thrilled that I would take one of his bottles back to the US! I bought 3 bottles from him for 10E and he threw another 3 for free so I ended up getting 6 bottles of wine for 10E! He insisted that I return and spend the day at the chateaux during the period where they pick the grapes. I just might take up on his offer!

Saint-Émilion, France

Saint-Émilion, France

All roads lead to wine - Bordeaux, France

All roads lead to wine - Bordeaux, France

Los Girasoles - Bordeaux, France

Los Girasoles - Bordeaux, France

The rest of the day we visited some more chateaux including the famous Chateaux Yquem where their bottles range from a few hundred to thousands of Euros. No tasting here! :) We then went back to the city of Bordeaux where we walked around most of the same places but this time with sunlight! More families and kids playing around the water mirror, but the same vibrant atmosphere in the air. We picked a nice cafe nearby and enjoyed a very nice 3 course meal where I tried a Foie Gras salad, repeated the Confit du Canard, and had Creme Brulee for desert. Everything was very good!

Bottles of Chateaux Haut-Jean-Redon, France

Bottles of Chateaux Haut-Jean-Redon, France

Chateaux Yquem - Region of Bordeaux, France

Chateaux Yquem - Region of Bordeaux, France

On our last day of the trip we drove to the coast, particularity to the city of Arcachon where they have this huuuuge sand dune nearby called La Dune du Pyla. We arrived there quite early in the morning before all of the tourists arrived. We then went to another beach where we stayed a little longer until it was time to go have lunch at Greg’s mother’s house. She got her entire family together and prepared this wonderful lunch for us with plenty of wine, mussels, and oysters. This was my first meal at a real French family’s house and it was quite nice. Most of the young ones spoke english so I was able to engage into conversations with them and share a bit of the life in the US with them.

French Malibu - France

French Malibu - France

Beach Florest - Plage du Pyla, France

Beach Florest - Plage du Pyla, France

After lunch was over we began the drive back north to Rennes but before we had one last stop planned. We took a detour to a small town near Cholet where Gregory’s grandparent’s have lived all their lives. This old couple is adorable! They received us very well and the grandmother went on to make us some pasta and served us some homemade soda! The grandfather then took me for a tour of the house where he proudly showed me his garden that he keeps up. They have almost every vegetable grown right in their backyard and have been doing that all their life! The grandmother then took over the tour and showed me her plants and flowers. In front of the house was this super old school car that I wish I had the opportunity to see both of them in it. It would have been quite a photo!

Steam over the mirror - Bordeaux, France

Steam over the mirror - Bordeaux, France

Kids at play - Bordeaux, France

Kids at play - Bordeaux, France

BBQ over dry grape tree wood - Bordeaux, France

BBQ over dry grape tree wood - Bordeaux, France

Symmetry of Grape Trees - Bordeaux, France

Symmetry of Grape Trees - Bordeaux, France

Dead End - Unknown Town, France

Dead End - Unknown Town, France

Pont de Pierre - Bordeaux, France

Pont de Pierre - Bordeaux, France

  1. Greg says:

    I wasn’t aware of this post ! This article is so great. I’m glad you had a good moment here in France, it was also a real pleasure to drive you here :-)
    Very good job ;-)