City tour and more rugby – Bordeaux, France

So those reading the previous blog will understand on Sunday we had the unexpected dilemma of getting to see France play rugby literally 20mins walk away from where we are staying. However, eventually we decided the compromise on watching France play Georgia was to go into Bordeaux and do a tour, have another fabulous lunch and then watch the game in a bar 😁. A few factors helped this decision, firstly there were limited tickets still available for the game at a pretty high price, secondly we were expecting the game to be something of a rout to France which is not always good to watch. I think mainly though we were just excited by the French restaurants in Bordeaux to chose from 🤣

Tram to Bordeaux

Therefore, Sunday morning we headed off to the tram with Lizzy and Lola, deciding this would be a more relaxing option than having to worry about 2 electric mountain bikes locked up in a city centre. The only drawback being having to avoid the crowds at the Matmut rugby stadium, which is our nearest tram stop. All was quiet when we headed through, although the police road blocks and crowd fencing suggested the fun to come. A very simple, fast and efficient tram journey into Bordeaux centre, taking about 20 minutes. It was filling up quite a bit with what looked to be locals by the time we got off even though it was a Sunday. Interesting to go through the suburbs, lots of apartments as it seems everywhere in France, quite a lot of innovative new designs but nonetheless pretty high density living.

The centre of Bordeaux feels anything but high density though. We alighted at the Place de Quinconces and were surrounded by wide tree lined boulevards, and in the square itself large numbers of trees apparently in the shape quincunxes a geometric star pattern from which the square gets its name. The highlight of the square though is certainly the Monument of Girondins, completed in 1902 in commemoration of the Girondists, members of a political faction who lost their lives during the French Revolution. There are two basins (though not containing any water when we visited) each with separate sculptures in bronze. They really are impressive and reminded me a little of the Trevi fountain. It is all the more poignant when you read the plaque which said that in 1944, the Ferrous metal committee (German) had it all taken away for scrap for the war effort. Luckily though it was all found in one piece in Angers two years later, re-erected in 1968 and restored in 1983.

The monument overlooks a huge square which is often used for events and had clearly had what appeared to have been a market / antiques fair the day before. All that remained today was people packing away sadly. So we carried on to the Gironde river, another enormous European river / estuary. Except perhaps the Severn, we really don’t have anything of the scale of the rivers we see here. There was quite pretty (and long) bridge (the Pont de Pierre) across. We headed to one of the sightseeing highlights the Miroir d’Eau opposite the Palais de la Bourse. A 3450 sqm square of block granite which forms a pool and in sunny days provides a reflective pool. It is refilled every 30 minutes….apparently, as we we got there it was dry. Obviously it is a summer only attraction.

We entered the city through what was once the main gate to the city, the Porte Cailhau, built in 1495. Once into the winding streets of stone buildings and cobbled streets with quirky independent shops and restaurants it was coming to lunchtime and it was time to find our lunch. We found a lovely place by the cathedral where there were already lots of people gathered enjoying Sunday brunches. Another absolutely fabulous meal was enjoyed with some recommended local Bordeaux wine.

By the time we emerged into the street again it was 1.30pm and time to find our spot to watch the France game which kicked off at 2pm. I am not sure if it was that Bordeaux was apparently English for 3 centuries, but there are a lot of British type pubs in the city. When we consulted Google Maps, we found our nearest option which was just opening was The Houses of Parliament! This turned out to be a cracking little place with some good screens to watch the game. We filled in with a lot of other French supporters who had been waiting for it to be opened. We had our COVID passes checked and hands stamped and settled down with a beer to watch the game.

France did not play half as well as we expected as they have certainly been warming up their form to hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup (for which we have tickets 🥳). Georgia put up a good fight but ultimately were defeated by a stronger team, with a final score 41-15. The atmosphere was great in the pub, with sportsmanlike rounds of applause for good play by either team. Our decision to watch the game here was also confirmed by the absolutely torrential rain that the game was played in for the second half. When we stepped out the pub after the game with everyone else it was not raining too hard. Though within 10m it was pouring again, my puffer jacket was not made for this and we were drenched and the tram was nowhere to be seen. As luck would have it, The Dog and Duck pub was beside the tram stop and offered a warm and dry shelter 😁

As it turned out the Dog and Duck is run by an English man from Chester originally, though he has been in Bordeaux for 15 years and has a French wife. He was pleased to chat to another north-westerner in Kevin. Also, they were showing the Fiji v Wales game, so it seemed rude not to stay and watch it too. Amazingly they also had on a St Austell beer from Cornwall where we live. We usually drink Proper Job at home (5%), though it seems that is not strong enough for the French who had the stronger Big Job on tap (7.2%!), you can usually only get this in bottles back home. We decided to stick with some wine!

Overall Bordeaux is a beautiful city and we had a great day out. We will definitely return one day.

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