Monday, July 13, 2009

The City of Bordeaux and Hotel des 4 Soeurs

We actually made it to the outskirts of Bordeaux from Palmer in 20 minutes by taking the D209 along the river as suggested by Google Map. However once we reached the city, the directions quickly disintegrated and we found ourselves hopelessly lost in a strange section of town. I telephoned the hotel and they told us they were located near the Grand Theater and to park at Tourney. From this, we were able to use our Hertz map to painfully make our way into the heart of the city and finally find the hotel. Parking prices are rather sharp at $19E per day, but it was exciting to be in such a great location.

The Hotel des 4 Soeurs ($95E for a double; breakfast $8E), booked by Caroline, is located right in the center of town. It has a wonderful bar with outside tables where we sat in the sun and ordered drinks, watching the people pass by. Our room was small, and the air-conditioning didn’t work well, but the location in the heart of Bordeaux encouraged you to explore the city, rather than stay in your room. We took a lovely walk along the river; wandered down the streets and looked at the many shops, and eventually had dinner at the very charming Le Noailles Restaurant across from the hotel. Since we were still full from our big lunch and the hot sun, we ordered a large salad with goat cheese that paired well with an icy watermelon-flavored Bordeaux rose. We then walked back to our room under an almost full-moon that lit up the sky, and made the warm evening seem even more enchanted.

I first saw the city of Bordeaux last April when I visited, and was very impressed with the beautiful old buildings; fountains; statues; river walk; and downtown pedestrian area. It seems like a small Paris to me. When we visited Haut-Brion the next day and were describing how pretty we thought the city was, we were surprised to learn that just a few years ago the downtown area was covered with black grime and the river was an unsafe area. Due to the efforts of the mayor, UNESCO, and the citizens, Bordeaux is now a very beautiful city, and an intriguing place to visit.

Despite the charm of downtown Bordeaux, Mike decided that trying to drive the rental car down the one-way streets and frequent road-work deviations was too stressful. Therefore, after our one lovely evening in town, we decided to relocate to an apartment hotel near the airport and off the Rocade (the very convenient outer highway that circles the city of Bordeaux). Though not romantic, it was practical as we had a 6:15am flight on Saturday morning, and it also provided easy access to Pessac-Leognan, Sauternes and Entre-Deux-Mers – our destinations for the next 2 days.

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