Do you know the feeling when a place takes you by a surprise? The feeling when you have to stop for a moment and wonder what on earth is happening here? That is exactly how I felt last week when I traveled to Bordeaux. I arrived in the city in the middle of the night and when I got dropped off at the end of a walking street crossing the city center by a taxi, I was a little irritated. I had been travelling the whole day, waited for the taxi way too long at the airport and then I’d even need to walk the rest of the way to the hotel..
When stepping out of the taxi, the driver pointed towards the center and gestured that my hotel would be there along the street. Unfortunately his vocabulary was not extensive enough for him to be able to give me any insight on how far I’d need to walk.
After only walking for some meters, the irritation had quickly vanished. Even in the darkest hours of the night, the city was just so beautiful! I had just gotten around to realize the beauty of the surrounding buildings, before I came to the first street corner. Then, out of the blue, I was facing this view:
Even though no photo does justice to the view, it is needless to say, the first impressions of the city were well taken care of and I was overwhelmed – no city has ever made me feel this way when arriving in the middle of the night. I ended up walking some 500m to my hotel and once walking in to the lobby, I was convinced that I’d be really enjoying my stay in Bordeaux.
Before travelling to Bordeaux, I had absolutely no expectations towards the city, I had seen a few photos before and heard a few nice comments, but I really knew nothing about the city. Thinking back – I truly think it was best this way as I got to form my opinions solely based on my own experiences, not on anyone else’s.
So what was the opinion then? I absolutely loved the city! I’ve never been that big a fan of France, so this was more or less a big surprise to me. After the five days spent in the city I had to confess that this was actually one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. The city is full of beautiful buildings, streets are full of atmosphere, there are lots of lovely little restaurants and the feeling you get while strolling among all the people around the city is just amazing! Even though I rarely think I’d love to visit the same city twice, based on this trip, I think that I might easily book a new trip to Bordeaux in the future.
What I liked about the city most was the atmosphere. I was there in the beginning of October, when the weather was still good, with temperatures around the 20’s and with lots of sunshine. Because it was still rather warm, there were plenty of people on the streets, walking along the narrow streets and laughing with friends in the restaurants – the city was just so lively.
Bordeaux is also a rather compact city. Unlike in big cities, like Paris, London or New York, here you can reach pretty much all corners of the city by foot. Of course it then also means that the city is easily explored thoroughly in a few days, but luckily there are also a few nice places for a day trip nearby, such as the wine regions charming Saint-Émilion or the coastal town of Arcachon to name a few.
Even though the city is lovely during the daytime, it only gets better once the sun sets. The buildings facing the river Garonne are beautifully lit during the evening, the noise from traffic does not bother you and the streets are full of happy people even during the week. I ended up finding myself walking down the riverbanks on every night with my camera, admiring the beauty of the city and smiling to myself. Life in France does not seem to be too bad after all – this is a place where you can not be anything by happy.