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Reporting from Caen

sunny 25 °C

After a ‘French Breakfast’ of coffee and pastries, we headed into Bordeaux to have a look around. Our hotel is out near the university and is very basic, and seems to cater more to a long term business visits than tourists, so lacks things like a rack of brochures and maps. We are right on the tram line, and bought an all day ticket. Our first stop was at the Hotel de Ville.

The first thing that caught our eye, was the most amazing roof of the St Andre de Bordeaux cathedral. We went inside and a sweet young English university student offered us a tour of the Cathedral - just for the four of us, and pointed out a lot of the features! Including the one original wall from when it was first consecrated in 1096. The rest of the church was from the 13th and 14th centuries, and it is interesting to the changes in style throughout the church. A lot of the cathedral was destroyed during the French Revolution, and so over the last 30 years, a lot of restoration has been done, and some of it has been done to look like it would have in different periods throughout history. This was where Eleanor of Aquitaine married the future Louis VII, and also Joan of Arc has a connection here too.

We then wandered down to the Musée d'Aquitaine (archeological and history museum), and saw lots of Roman artifacts, and this big round window which had been removed from a church. Interestingly, I discussed what it could be with the kids. They kept suggesting that it was probably a wheel, bearing in mind that this was at person level, compared to in a church when it is usually high up in the rafters, and we talked about giants, and machines, but they took ages to decide that it could be a window.


After making our way around, without really knowing where we were going, we decided it would be prudent to visit the tourist information office, and also to find out if it were possible to join a bus tour to a winery, so that when there we could both enjoy the wine tasting offerings. Bus tours were outrageously expensive, as there was no significant discount for the kids... I suppose they take up a full seat on the bus... so we decided to drive ourselves the following day.

Dad had recommended the Pomerol area, and so we headed out that way. We got to the town about 1pm, and there was nothing going on. All the wineries were desolate, and there was nobody there. We headed over to St Emilion, only to find out that all the wineries close for lunch between 12-2pm. I had been expecting fancy little cafes associated with each winery, a lot like those in the Yarra or Hunter Valleys back home. No food. We found one that showed some sign of life about 1.30 - and people were arriving there carrying baguettes and cheese, and setting up their own picnics (clearly in the know). I interrupted the staff having their lunch (which looked amazing), and they asked if we would like to join the tour at 2pm. Sounded fine. We went back to the car to see what we could scrounge up to eat - was not very appetising, trust me. The tour was terrific, it’s been a long time since I have been on a winery tour, so I really enjoyed hearing about the process. Didi and Jie Jie decided to document it all with their iPods, and are planning preparing a flow chart. They were particularly impressed seeing the grapes (which are not yet quite ripe for this vintage) hanging on the vines. I learned that in the Bordeaux region one of the regulations, is that there is no irrigation allowed, there is a clay soil on a limestone base, which retains enough water for the crop.

We then wandered around the medieval town of St Emilion, which was really charming, and had loads of little wine shops, some homeware stores and lots of restaurants and cafes.

One more sleep, then next stop Normandy...

(PS : more photos in my album!)

Posted by aboo10 00:53 Archived in France Tagged churches buildings children winery family_travel

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Brilliant! Look out for the calvados in Normandy .... can be a dangerous drop....xx

by Libby glenn

More and various things you've seen and done! Dad disappointed at his bad recommendation but now he can follow your lead.

by Ros Pearce

Don't worry about it Dad! St Emilion is really same region as Pomerol... about 5km away... and everything was closed between 12 and 2... that's what we didn't know!!

by aboo10

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