Sea of Green!
17.06.2016 - 17.06.2016 20 °C
What a day!!
Sadly, we left the chateau and Saint-Emilion to continue our trip and for a day on the ocean. We drove past the city of Bordeaux and on to the town of Arcachon which sits on the Atlantic coast. Very much a tourist region, they are also known for oysters. We parked the car and went to the beach where we found a lovely restaurant with a large patio. They offered 2-course lunches - choice of appetizer and main course or main and dessert. Alena had mussels and then duck confit while Mary Ann enjoyed a fresh tomato salad followed by grilled Merlu (a type of hake) both accompanied by a glass of white ‘Entre-Deux-Mers’ Bordeaux. Lovely.
We then drove a little south through the town, admiring the beautiful villas and summer homes on the way to Dunes de Pilat. This gigantic sand dune on the coast is over 2.5km long and reaches a height of 500m. WE CLIMBED IT!! It was pretty windy and we didn’t go to the very top-most ridge, but we did reach the top. And without the stairs (we didn’t even see the stairs until we were at the top -they’re on the lee side of the dune!).
The plan then was to drive back to Bordeaux where we had a hotel reservation for the night. Before hitting the hotel, we wanted to go to a new museum experience called La Cite du Vin - the City of Wine. The online photos look stunning but alas, traffic was insane! We changed our route and went directly to the hotel as there was no way to get to the museum before it closed. Even getting to the hotel was crazy - the highway into the city was achingly slow but in the downtown was even moreso. Remember reading about all the Irish on our train the other day? Well tomorrow is their match here in Bordeaux and green shirts were on just about every corner. There was a large group and lots of gendarmes (police) when we went past an Irish pub (go figure!) Alena did a fabulous job getting through (thank goodness for GPS!) and we got to the hotel just before 6pm. We enjoyed a salad and then went out to explore Vielle Bordeaux - the oldest part of town.
Our goal was to see 2 things: the Quinconces Esplanade and it’s amazing fountain, then the Mirror of Water on the bank of the Garonne River. However, on the way, we saw a motorcade leading the Irish side to their hotel just 2 blocks down from ours! After watching them off the bus, we found ourselves a few blocks later near that Irish pub…the crowd was even larger, singing & chanting for their team. We went down to absorb the atmosphere - so much fun!
Gradually, we made it to the Esplanade which is also the Bordeaux FanZone for Euro ’16 so lots of Irish and Belgians there. The monument is massive - with a bronze fountain on each of 2 sides. Just fascinating, “Le triomphe de la République” – “the triumph of the Republic”, and on the other side, “Le triomphe de la Concorde”- “the triumph of Agreements”. As we made our way around, up on the platform of the monument were…a singing/cheering group of football fans, mixed Irish & Belgian!
At the other end of the esplanade, we came across a pub and bought a couple pints. European cities allow you to walk through with your drink!
Next stop was the Mirror of Water. It was built in 2006 by the city to reflect the Palais du Bourse. Just gorgeous, the water’s only a couple cm deep and it drains out every 15 minutes to be replaced via a mist. Really lets out your inner kid - we even saw a guy doing pushups in it (yes, he was Irish!).
As we headed back to our hotel, we again went down to the Irish pub where even more supporters were taking up the entire end of the street. It was the kind of event where you couldn’t stop smiling - watching these fans so excited and having such a good time supporting their team (and all the pubs & restaurants along the way). Lots of countries/cultures have their good times but Thank the good sweet Lord for the Irish!
Stopped into a little pizzeria (yes, 2/3rds of the tables were filled with Irish lads!) for a thin crust and some wine - half the pizza will be our lunch tomorrow on the train to Paris. The first part of our journey is just about done!
Mary Ann & Alena