St-Emilion vineyards from train Bordeaux France2

Goodbye Lauzun, hello Bordeaux

After two months in rural Lauzun, the time had come to trade in my little Cardbordeaux for the big Bordeaux.

“How do you feel about leaving Lauzun?” asked a new friend at a spontaneous Kir Royal gathering at the Café des Sports. I considered my answer carefully. I’d been warmly welcomed by my hosts Sue and Ian, their friends and neighbours, and the staff at the local businesses. I’d cycled all around the countryside, visited hidden villages, dined royally, and drunk more wine than I have ever drunk in my life—good, French wine.

“I think I’m ready to balance my rural French experience with an urban one,” I answered. “I’m going to take the train to Bordeaux’s UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site to stay there for three nights, and then I’ll catch the bus to Paris for a week.” I paused. “I think that’ll do it. Then it’s back to Vancouver.”

Ian drove me to the train station in Bergerac and the sky emptied rain. I felt sad to leave, but I have to admit—I was excited. The train passed through too many famous vineyards to count, but it happened to pause in the village of Saint-Émilion.

St-Emilion vineyards from train Bordeaux France
Aboard the Bergerac-to-Bordeaux train, stopped at Saint Emilion station.

Apparently, they make good wine in Saint-Émilion and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I managed to catch a snazzy tram from the Bordeaux Gare St-Jean station to just blocks from home for the next three nights, the Hotel de L’Opera. The hotel room was perfect: modest, clean, renovated, secure, and centrally located opposite the Grand Theatre, a bike share rack, and a waaaay more expensive hotel. All for an off-season deal price of €50 a night.

Grand Theatre VCub bike share Bordeaux France2
View of Bordeaux’s Grand Theatre and VCub bike share rack from a third floor room in the Hotel de L’Opera.

Stepping out into the square and onto rue Sainte-Catherine in the late afternoon, the atmosphere was electrifying.

Rue St-Catherine Bordeaux France
Rue Saint Catherine is the spine of Bordeaux’s UNESCO World Heritage Site quarter. It’s also a pedestrian-and-bikes-only, 1.25-kilometre shopping lane.

I realized that—having been in deep-rural Lauzun for the past two months—I was a bit culture shocked.

I made my way to a funky café called Spok, ordered a glass of red wine and a hot beef sandwich, and examined my maps and tourist materials.

Spok cafe in Bordeaux France
Spok cafe in Bordeaux, France. An elegantly-dressed lady contemplatively sips a can of Coke, while I contemplate arts and adventures.

Okay, I said to myself: For the next two days I am going to go with the flow, keep calm, wander, and let Bordeaux discover me.

But first, I need a bottle of good Bordeaux wine to take back to my hotel room.

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Writer, rider, traveller.

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