The trip was from early May, but I was busy with so many things that I kept postponing on writing it. It was not until today when I was looking at some folders on my laptop that I saw all the photos, and told myself that if I don’t start writing then the memories will soon be squished under all the data of my dissertation and daily things that I have to take care of. If that happens, it would be a waste of all the beautiful memories and photos. Plus, my “Travelling” menu should have one opening post to give some motivations for future trips, right?
Bordeaux is a port city in southwestern France, and is considered as the world’s major wine industry capital (if you speak about wine, Bordeaux wine would probably be one of the first that come up). Tourists coming to Bordeaux usually go on tours to vineyards and chateau. However we only had 2 days so we decided that we would spend time exploring the city center and nice eating spots although the trip was rather short, we did go around quite a lot and took a good amount of photos, so I will divide this posts into two parts so that it wouldn’t be too long.
Bài viết tiếng Việt: Bordeaux (Phần 1): Quảng trường gương – Tiramisu chocolate trắng – Pasushi & Patapas
We arrived at 10 in the morning. The first place on my list was the Place de la Bourse, or the Mirror square (the reason for this name will be revealed later in this post). We took the tramway to a station near city center and walked from there to the square, however instead of taking the main road, we decided to go into the smaller streets, and we got to see many beautiful sights of Bordeaux.
Photo: Pey-Berland bell tower
Photo: The market next to the tower
Photo: An old gate of Bordeaux
We finally got to our main destination: Place de la Bourse. This square used to be the Royal square, built in the 18th century under the order of king Louis XV, with a statue of himself in the middle of the square to express his position and power in France. This statue is attacked and melted during the French revolution at the end of the 18th century. After the revolution, the squared was renamed Place de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Square), and the Three Graces fountain was built in place of the statue. Even though the Stock Exchange Hall is now Bordeaux’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the square still keeps its former name and is a prominent example of French architecture in the late 18th century.
Photo : Three Graces fountain, with Aglae (Splendour), Euphrosyne (Mirth) and Thalia (Good Cheer)
Photo: The old Stock Exchange Hall, now Bordeaux’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The square is often called Mirror square, because right in front of the Bordeaux’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the world’s largest reflecting pool, made from marble and covered by 2cm of water. The water is pumped up several times a day, and any time of the day it would be one of Bordeaux’s favorite places, especially for the small kids in hot summer days (even big kids like Matthias and me loved it :p).
If you look at the square from the bank of the river, you can see the whole Bordeaux’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry reflected in the pool like a huge mirror
After playing with the water, it was lunch time. We had our Restopolitan card (a discount card for member restaurants, which offers a free meal for one person), so we’ve booked our restaurant beforehand, and we’ve paid less than 20€ each for a very fulfilling and delicious lunch. The restaurant’s name was La Belle Epoque, situated on the main street of Bordeaux, with a view of the river.
We took the main dish + dessert combo, and were offered a small appetizer by the restaurant, included rillettes (made from stewed shredded meat) and bread.
I’ve had supermarket rillettes before, but it’s not until trying this restaurant’s rillettes that I know how delicious the dish can be. It was so flavorful and balanced, and eat it with hot crunchy bread was just heavenly!
For the main dish, I chose steak with side dishes of french fries, a vegetable quiche and an oven-roasted tomato. Matthias chose duck breast with French fries and a vegetable quiche. The side dishes were not exceptional, but the steak and duck breast were very delicious, the roast was spot on so the meat was very tender and juicy.
The most impressive dish was the dessert. Matthias and me both chose white chocolate tiramisu for dessert, which was advertised as the specialty of the restaurant, and we were not disappointed at all. Instead of using lady finger cookies, the restaurant chose to use a very soft and moist cake, the mascarpone cream didn’t have any added sugar, but the sweetness of the cake and the shaved white chocolate outside balanced the whole thing.
We’ve spent the whole afternoon visiting the city center. Although Bordeaux doesn’t have the glamour and excitement like Paris’s city center, but it has its own ancient and calm atmosphere. It was the weekend so most of the stores were closed, and the feeling of not having to force my way through crowds of people, enjoying the nice clear air while walking down the various small streets of Bordeaux was very nice and relaxing.
Of course, ice-cream is always a perfect choice for a hot summer day.
In the late afternoon, we went for dinner in a wine bar that is famous for its Pasushi and Patapas (can be loosely translated to Not sushi and Not tapas), which is French dishes and drinks reinvented into sushi and tapas forms, hence the name :p. However the bar did not have as much good wine as Matthias has expected, so we’ve decided to only try a portion of Pasushi and Patapas.
The combo we took included Pasushi Blanquette de veau (Veal ragu), Mojito, and Carbonara, and Patapas steak, Samoussa hamburger and vegetable quiche. We were a bit disappointed though, because although the reviews were very good online, we didn’t find the dish too impressive. I liked the Pasushi carbonara and Patapas Samoussa hamburger, but I didn’t think it was worth 10€.
That combo Pasushi and Patapas divided in two was only enough for an appetizer, so we decided to walk around a bit to find something else to eat. It was getting dark, and a bit chilly, so after a glance at each other, we’ve both confessed that…we craved for a hot bowl of ‘pho’ the Thanh Hai restaurant was chosen like that. We took a beef pho each, ate and both agreed that this 6€ bowl of pho was much better than the Pasushi Patapas we’ve just tasted.
With a full belly, we happily took the tramway back to the hotel and went to bed, recharging our energy for the next day