Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shopping in Saint-Jean-de-Luz with the girls

The rain was pouring down, but more was needed to keep us from pursuing our long time set mission to go to Saint-Jean-de-Luz for the last days of after Christmas sales! The idea was anyway to spend more time in the shops than outside...

We did find some real bargains. I bought some short boots for 20 euros, the girls found lovely white tops with dentelles... We did the whole rue Gambetta, the main shopping street, and on a side street we found a workshop/shop called Atelier Manufactoum where they make beautiful things in leather and tissue, like bags, bracelets.... The owner comes from Hermès, which shows in the details and the finish.

We had lunch at the basque restaurant Chez Kako where we sat down at the wooden table in a typical bistro feeling, joyful noise, people almost touching each other at the tables. We had parrillada de poisson, an assortment of three different fried fish with mushroom risotto.... need I say more... 10,50 euros including coffee!

To finish off the day we then headed to the shopping centre i Bayonne called BAB2. I found a lovely blue silk dress, a skirt for five euros... and we had such a good time just chatting and commenting each others outfits... I already look forward to our next time to go shopping, this time for the new spring collections...!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The beach, a world of its own

Marram grass and buckwheat
Marram grass and buckwheat around it

Seriously, when it's raining this much, you need some beach nostalgia more than anything else. Let's go back to the Contis beach and have a closer look! Because at first, when you see that long white beach stretching out, it’s like a desert. Just sand, nothing else. But when you start looking, there are many things to discover, both animal and vegetal.
The Atlantic coastal area in my region, Landes, is to a great extent a protected area. The balance between then sandy shore and the pine forest next to it is fragile. The plants have a hard time growing in the salty air in the sand, but they play an important role to maintain the sand dunes in place and avoid the sand from spreading further inland.


Debris on the beach
Another important role is played by that disgraceful debris you see washed up on the beach. A mix of dead crabs, wood and algae. It's no pretty sight, but it gives food and protection to a whole world of small animals that live on the beach and to the birds.

Children on the Contis beach

The sand beach is a particular landscape, very beautiful when you look closer. Please respect the signs to protect it, do not pick any plants or flowers from the dunes and don’t walk outside the indicated paths - to keep this beautiful place as it is!

Shell collection
Along the coast you can find 300 different kinds of crustacean. Some examples from Clara’s collection.

Contis
Sea spurge

Prickly saltwort
Prickly saltwort, I believe

Sea holly
Sea holly

Monday, January 25, 2010

Horseriding in the ocean waves

There are plenty of places to go horseriding nearby and I've been wanting for ages to go riding by the ocean... but most places only accept experienced riders for those outings.

Our guide Philippe at Atlantic Equitation
Our guide Philippe
But in September 2009 I managed do make my dream come pretty much true... with Nadine, a friend, and Philippe, the owner of Atlantic Equitation in Contis, situated about two kilometers from the sea. Just by looking at my photo I think you understand that Philippe is a superguide, passionate about his horses and about this region.

Riding in the Contis forest

On one of those beautiful days he took us through a haven of pine trees with heather and ferns. The calm of the forest, the smell of the pine trees. Heaven.

Approaching the sea

Then we arrived at the Contis stream, a stream that gathers several small water streams and lead up to the ocean. We took the horses through the water in the stream, with water upp to our thighs, all the way up to the dunes and the ocean... glittering in the sun. Suddenly the salty smell of the ocean, the wind in our hair. The horses walked out in the waves of the ocean and we just.... sat there in AWE, holding on to a very precious moment. There is no picture from that moment, because Philippe didn't want us, beginners, to go galopping on the beach and that was exactly what the horses wanted to do, so I held on firmly to my reins! But for me, this moment will stay in my head for a long, long time...

The Contis stream that leads to the sea
Here I have my back to the ocean and look at the Contis stream. The water is low so the boats are a bit tipped

We galopped several times on the way back home, but shorter distances in the forest, which honestly probably was enough of an adrenaline kick for me anyway... but I still dream of galopping away on the beach one day!

The next day, another magical sunny day, I returned with the children.

A blockhaus, a reminder of the Second World War
Clara on top of a blockhaus, left by the Germans since they tried to protect the shore during the second world war.

Fishing from the shore
Somebody out fishing

Details of the stones that border the Contis stream
Details of the stone wall that keeps the Contis stream in place. All the streams leading out to the ocean, except one, Courant d'Huchet, are kept in place like this, because otherwise they move south every year because of the Golf stream current.

The Contis light house
The Contis lighthouse. The only lighthouse along the Landes coast. During summertime it is open for visitors and if you walk up the 196 steps you have a mighty view as a reward!

Contis is a small sea resort. Perect if you are in for a quiet family vacation, swimming in the ocean, riding on your bike. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Salmon and sesame seeds

Salmon with sesam seeds
Sorry about the many food postings! Really, I thought I would write about philosophy and history, but food just keeps popping up! But that's what it's like to live in France. We eat a lot of food, we talk a lot about food and we think a lot about food.

But this recipe isn't even French. It comes from a Swedish book with low glycemic index recipes for the whole family.... doesn't sound much fun, but don't worry. This is really good and fast enough for any mother with small children...

Cut fresh salmon in cubes and add some salt and white pepper. Dip them in a bowl with and egg and then in a bowl with about 1 dl of sesame seeds. Be generous with the sesame seeds! Fry the salmon cubes for 4-5 minutes (depending on their size and if you want a raw part in the middle or not). Done! Serve with whatever you like with your salmon. You can also try the same recipe with chicken, just fry them a bit longer.

If your Swedish is good enough, check out the book: GI för hela familjen by Ulrika Davidsson.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Drink Madiran wine and live longer

Cheers
Red wine is supposed to be good for your cardiovascular health - in a moderate consumption pattern of course. But did you know that the Madiran wines are supposed to be healthier than the others? They presumeably contain twice as much of the healty ingredients as a normal red wine! This is one part of the French paradox, that Frenchmen stay slim and have fewer heart problems even though their diet is high in saturated fats. The other part, in my opinion, has to do with duck fat, but I'll get back to that.
According to Times, 30th of November 2006, the Madiran wines contain 2-4 times more of procyanidines compared to other red wines. That means that two small glasses of wine daily, is enough to lower a high blood pressure. Le Quotidien du medecin, a French medicine magazine, said in December 2006 that these ingredients are good for your heart too. The explanation to all this lies in the grape tannat.
Tannat grapes from Madiran
The wine district Madiran is situated across three departements, Gers, Pyrénées Atlantiques and Landes, north of Pau in Aquitaine. Not in the mountains, but on hills where the vineyards benefit from a mild sea climate and clay mixed with chalk.

In the Madiran wine district, four kinds of grapes are allowed. First the famous tannat, which represent 40-50 percent of the total volume. The grape tannat gives the unique taste and structure to the wine. It is often mixed with cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, to obtain more softness and finesse. The fourth grape, fer servadou, is rarely used.

This dominating grape tannat makes the young Madiran pretty rough and tough. They need to be stored for at least 2-3 years before they are ready to be drunk. Madiran is actually the only wine with a compulsory storage of minimum one year. It is easy to get hooked on Madiran wine. The tannat grape has something special and once you get used to it... other wines easily seem.... bland. It is a wine that might seem too much on its own, when you are wine tasting without food, but try combining with some meat and you will understand what I mean by getting hooked!

In the same district you will also find a white wine, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, a very nice white wine that is close to the Jurançon wines in taste. That hint of acidity that does it! The grapes allowed are arrufiac, gros manseng, petit manseng, courbu, sauvignon and sémillon. The dry white wines have a hint of acidity and a freshness that I adore. The half dry and sweet ones still have that acidity but coupled with aromas of almond and exotic fruits. The sweet wines are obtained by letting the grapes dry out on the branches, concentrating the aromas... but do not mix them up with the dried Sauternes grapes, rottened by a mushroom... these ones are simply dried.

Tannat photo from Wikipedia

Winter is over

Yellow spring crocus
Maybe not really, but I found three beautiful spring flowers in our garden. Yellow crocus, to let us know that spring is coming...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eat your soup!

Pack of ready made soup
Yesterday, since it was her birthday, I asked Clara what she wanted to have for dinner. I want soup, she said. This might sound a bit strange, but if I tell you I usually serve crêpes or waffles as dessert with the soup, maybe you understand her choice. This time I even made some whipped cream to go with the crêpes and the strawberry jam.... This is a classic win-win situation. I get them to eat vegetable soup, the children get crêpes and everybody is very happy.

Onion soup has always been French onion soup to me. I still remember my first onion soup with that slice of bread on top and lots of melted cheese. Yummy! I still love onion soup. But it took me a while to realise that Frenchmen eat a lot of soup. You don't see it at once, because it is a family thing. Like my husband's family. When he was a child, they would have a vegetable soup for starters every day!

Waffles with jam and whipped cream

Maybe the soup eating habit is declining..my husband says it's more a thing of the generation of his parents... but when you enter a French supermarket, you will be astonished by the variety of readymade soup in packs of 1 litre, like the ones on the photo.  Of course a home made soup is better, but I always keep a couple of ready made soups at home, for those days when cooking need to be faster than fast....

Link to a recipe for French onion soup.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oyster love - how to order oysters

Oysters for sale signLet’s imagine you have decided to try oysters – maybe after reading my story. You open the menu.... and realise that just asking for oysters will not be enough. You have to be more specific. Frenchmen are not difficult about food – yeah sure - but they are very precise.

Let me guide you through the three basic parts of determining what oysters to order. First of all you need to know that oysters are classified by size from 0-5, where 0 is the biggest and 5 the smallest. The most demanded size is 3 - not too big, not too small – and also my personal preference. If you hesitate, take the smaller size.
Next step is to understand the other classification, which basically takes into account the part of meat compared to the weight of the whole oyster. On the menu you will see:

• huîtres fines : flat oysters with a quota between 6,5 and 10,5;
• huîtres spéciales : quota above 10,5 ;
• huîtres fines de claire: the oysters have been in clear water for at least one month with 40 oysters per m2;
• huîtres spéciales de claire : the oysters have been in clear water for 4-5 months with 5-10 oysters per m2

Third step is to choose the origin of your oysters. Different breeding places give different taste. Do you want an oyster from Bretagne, from Arcachon, from Marenne-Oléron….? I would say you have to try different origins to see what pleases you the most, but basically the flat oyster comes from Bretagne and the southeast of France and they have a saltier taste with more iodine, while the Japanese oyster is the most common elsewhere. From the Arcachon bay in Aquitaine the most reputed ones come from the Arguin sandbank, the breeding place that is the closest to the open sea.


Japanese oyster

The best time for eating oysters is late autumn until early spring. In summer the oysters get milky due to their reproduction and the taste is not so good. If they suggest oysters called Quatre Saisons, because you can eat them all year, you should know that they are genetically modified and cannot reproduce. Personally I prefer to follow the seasons and eat normal oysters!

Sorry, this got a bit long…. I’ll make a new post to talk about the next step, what to do when you finally have that platter of oysters in front of you...

Open Japanese oyster photo from Wikipedia

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Merqueyssac, 150 000 hand-pruned boxwoods

Merqueyssac Garden
Or when somebody completely goes nuts! You can really ask some questions about where the idea of creating this came, but the result is awesome. This is a truly magical place. And the view is incredible.

Gardener in the Merqueyssac garden

I'm talking about the Merqueyssac garden, close to Roque Gageac, in the Dordogne region. According to tradition the garden was designed by the famous gardener Le Nôtre. But it is the owner of the castle from 1861, Julien de Cerval, who created most of today's garden by planting tens of thousands of buxboms. He was a passionate lover of gardens and inspired from travels to Italy. After his death, the gardens grew wild and it took a hefty renovation project to restore them and open them for the public in 1997. And five fulltime working gardeners just for the ongoing pruning work...

The castle in the Merqueyssac garden

I was quite hesitating about going here. A garden, how interesting can it be? Especially with the children. But David at our hotel in Sarlat insisted and told me I would not regret going there. He was right, I believe almost anyone can be fascinated by the madness of the project and the beauty of the resulting romantic garden on top of a spur overlooking the Dordogne valley and some of the most famous villages around.

The view point at Merqueyssac

We walked through the gardens all the way to the view point, about a kilometre. From that spot you have a vast view over Roque Gageac, Beynac, Domme and the Castelnaud castle. Sublime.

Little electric bus at Merqueyssac

Seemed silly, but I really appreciated the little bus that came to pick us up and took us back to the castle. There we passed the café terrace that looked lovely. Next time I would love to come back on a Thursday evening in summer, when they lit up the whole garden with thousands of candles along the pathways.

Merqueyssac lit up by candles

Official site for the Merqueyssac gardens

The gardens measure 22 hectares and includes over 6 km of walking paths. Open every day the whole year. The gardens are situated in Vézac. Possible to walk around with a light buggy, like I did. And the children loved the labyrinths created by the buxboms...

Photos of the gardener and the candles: Laugéry.

Txotx to you!

Rembember I told you that I love January. There's the oysters, the galette des rois and then there's the beginning of the cidrerie season! Cidrerie is a phenomenon unique for the Pays Basque. If I have to be really honest, the best ones are on the Spanish side.. But the cider here has nothing to do with the Breton sweet cider. The basque cider is more like apple wine. It is done with a mix of apples that are sweet, acid and bitter, which gives a drink that surprises at first, but then becomes addictive.

Côte de boeuf in Basque cidrerie

In the beginning there were the apple orchards in the Pays Basque. After the harvest in september-october, the cider was ready to drink beginning of January. They organised cider tasting, but of course you cannot only drink, you need to eat something. The people would bring their own meat, some eggs, walnuts to accompany the cider. Little by little the tradition grew and real restaurants developed around the barrels of cider. The season starts in January and ends when the barrels are empy, which usually occurs by the end of April. People come in busloads to enjoy the typical cidrerie menu, which consists of cod omelette, chuleta (côte de boeuf), fried cod with vegetables. Dessert is quince marmelade served with cheese and whole walnuts. And the real traditional ones still accept that you bring your own meat, like in the old days.... Sometimes you don't get your own plate, but everybody share the serving plate!

Glasses with Basque Cider

I think you start to get the idea, a cidrerie is a place where you go dressed in jeans, settle in at a big wooden table with benchen, prepared for a very festive and happy moment!

Inside a cidrerie

The cider is normally served à volonté, which means that you can drink as much as you want. It is served straight from the barrels. Every time they open a new barrel, they shout txotx, which means cork. When they take out the cork the cider starts flowning and everybody line up to fill their glasses. Don't fill it too much, the cider should be drunk at once and you will want to try different barrels. They each contain a different mix of apples and thus a different taste. Usually the mood is very festive with lots of laughing and singing..... !! Nothing better than a night at a cidrerie to forget the dark winternight outside...

Dessert in a cidrerie

You'll only find cidrerie in Pays Basque, most on the Spanish side but some on the French side. Today there are also restaurants called cidrerie than work like normal restaurants, with à la carte and cider served in a bottle. That can be very nice too, but it's not the real thing.
I've tried a couple of different ones. One is five kilometers from Sao Sebastian i Spain, Saizar. Best chuleta I have ever had, and believe me, my standards are set extremely high. By midnight there was general singing of Spanish songs.
Like I said, the cider has a freshness and a hint of bitterness that surprises at first, but when you have gotten used to it, no way you go back to sweet cider. The alcohol rate is about five percent. Remember that the Spanish eat late if you want to book a table. Don't even try to book before 9PM!

Some adresses: Listing of cidreries in the Guipuzcoa region in the north part of Spanish Pays Basque. Txopinondo, a cidrerie in Ascain, close to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. I've been told it's a good place to go. Cidrerie Aldakurria, don't know about it, but the site talks about a traditional cidrerie and their own apple orchards, so it sounds promising. Cidrerie Chez Txotx, in Biarritz and Bayonne. Good food and atmosphere, but not a really traditional cidrerie. Cidrerie du Fronton in Arbonne. My friend Mathilde who lives there recommends it. Cidrerie Ttipia in Bayonne, my husband was there with some friends and he liked it.

Photos: Plate with chuleta, glasses of cider, restaurant room and dessert.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Promis by Emmanuel Moire

What a voice, what a presence. Great artist. He became known in France after participating in the musical Roi Soleil, Sun King, about Louis XIV.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I want them all dead

A mole
I didn't exactly grow up on a farm. I'm more of a citygirl than I ever would like to admit. Now I live in a small village, more on the countryside and sometimes nature comes a bit too close...

When we moved here I soon realised that we had a problem with moles. Easy to spot molehills, those mounds of earth on a line in your garden.... Of course, in the beginning I wanted to try the soft approach. Those cute little moles!  Get them away from the garden, but not kill them, just scare them. We tried vibrating sticks, putting smelly garlic and as time went on, the moles were becoming less cute in my mind. I decided to take a more muscled approach to the problem and started documenting myself on the subject.

It was like entering Alice world of wonders, full of myths and legends, never knowing what is true or false. The remedies suggested were all fantastic... put broken glass in their holes, they bleed to death even with a small scratch.... pee in the holes, they can't stand the smell of humans... and so on and so on.

After a scientific search, examining various methods including explosives, poison and smoke, I concluded that traps seemed to be the best method to catch them. To kill them. Forget about being nice, this is us or the mole.... But so far they elude me. I retrieve the traps closed, but with no mole. Except one. So far....

To be continued.

Photo from Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bordeaux on French television


The other day there was an excellent program on TF1, one of the major French television channels, about Bordeaux. In fifteen minutes they showed many beautiful images from Bordeaux and talked about both its glorious history and modern Bordeaux. Bordeaux has a reputation to be a calm city, so I liked that they showed a more joyful and lively view of the city, by mentioning the many concert locals for example.

They also talked about the importance of Bordeaux as a harbour and how slave traffic enriched the city during the 17th century. This part has been hushed down for obvious reasons, but it remains an important part of the history of the city. Finally they talked, of course, about the wine industry. Today it faces a big crisis with 20% less in foreign sales for the 12 000 winemakers in Bordeaux.

Take a look even if you don't understand French, the pictures are very nice!
TV program on TF1 about Bordeaux

The photo shows the bridge Pont de Pierre by night.

Monday, January 11, 2010

French kissing

I'll never forget what happened on the first morning of my first visit to France. I was staying in a family with a daughter about my age. The first morning she came up to greet me, put out her head in front of her and tipped it on the side. It looked completely ridiculous and for two or three very long seconds, I didn’t understand what she was doing. My mind was racing as I tried to figure out how to react. Then I realised, she wants to greet me with cheek kissing!

I felt extremely foolish. Especially since my French teacher had talked about French greetings.

Now I knew I had to cheek kiss, but it takes time to get into the finer details. How many kisses? One on each cheek, like most Parisians do, or a third one like people in Bretagne.... or even four, like in the south? And which cheek do you start with? Remember not to touch the cheek, the kissing is done in the air, with your cheek barely touching the other person's cheek.

One of our French friends always goes for four kisses - making the most of it!  Smack!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Penne d'Agenais, plum flowers in the French Tuscany

Plum flowers in Penne d'Agenais
The medieval village Penne d’Agenais in Lot-de-Garonne lies on top of a cliff that can be seen miles away. The village has been at the centre of many fights for power during the centuries.

View from the Peyragude Basilica in Penne d'Agenais

It is early evening in March, the light is fading. As we come closer to Penne d’Agenais we see fields and forest in this softly rolling landscape. Along the road there are hundreds and thousands of plum trees blooming. The white flowers float in the darkness. So beautiful. Suddenly a rock towers in front of us. That is Penne with the silhouette of the Peyragude basilica.

My guide Kristina

We're here to visit Kristina, the Swedish mother of a French friend from school. Her father participated in the Bernadotte White Buses Mission during spring 1945, saving the lives of hundreds of Frenchmen. Revisiting one of those grateful men she met her future husband in Cannes, where she married at nineteen.

When I discovered Lot-et-Garonne I was already divorced, says Kristina. I came here to help a friend that was moving here, found an old farm from the 18th century and decided to stay. It took me years to carefully restore it. This region is called the French Tuscany, because we have the same flowing hills, rich fields and wine yards.

Villeneuve sur Lot by the river

Saturday morning Kristina takes us to the market in Villeneuve-sur-Lot. Around the place the houses have several different fronts. We admire the beautifully presented vegetables and fruits. We arrive in Penne just in time for lunch and at Kristina’s favourite restaurant, Le Peyragude, we have a wonderful meal. The restaurant fills up quickly and the sound of the voices rises! Many seem at home here, like they come often.

Steep street in Penne d'Agenais

Then we go for a walk up the steep streets, up to the basilica Peyragude. Next to it you find the ruins of the Lionheart castle. The children are fascinated by the ruins, the caves under it and most of all, by the 30 meter deep well where they supposedly threw their enemies to meet a slow death! From the basilica the view stretches far out over the fields and the hills. Kristina tells me that many artists and craftsmen are attracted by Penne.

Pujol main streetWe rest with a coffee at Café des Arts and decide to make a last quick stop at Pujols before heading home. Pujols is on the list of the 100 most beautiful villages in France. It lies high, but on top of a plateau. When I take a picture of a house covered in flowers, the owner walks out. Sorry, I was just admiring your house. No problem, we are used to it, he answers.

For our next visit Kristina has many suggestions for things to do. Rent a boat and go for a trip on any of the rivers Lot, La Garonne or Baìse. There are over 200 km of water to explore. Or visit the kingdom of water lilies in Latour-Marliac. They delivered the flowers to the famous lily pond for Monet in Paris. For your stay, try Kristina's place, Al Cross, five minutes from Penne. Go there before she sells it, to her regret she is getting too old to maintain such a big house - see ad.

Tourist office in Penne d’Agenais
Tourist office in Villeneuve-sur-Lot

Children on the ruins of Richard Lionheart's castle
The children and the ruins of Richard Lionheart's castle

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Opening hours - just relax

Shop window

When we lived in Paris, we had gotten used to the shops being open continously throughout the day. Here it doesn't really work the same way. At noon, or latest one o'clock, all shop owners hang up the Closed sign and go home to have lunch. Maybe they even take a nap, because they are usually not back until three or four in the afternoon.

In the beginning I found this most annoying. I would always find I needed something just at the time they had closed... and kept mumbling to myself about these lazy, no good people... close down a shop for several hours...

But I have actually come to change my mind. Completely.
I now find this incredibly charming and part of what I appreciate the most here in the southwest of France, la douceur de vivre. Here you take it easy and enjoy life. Lunchtime is supposed to be spent with your family and friends, to eat and enjoy. Only foreigners would be stupid enough to want to go shopping at that time.

And by the way, if you ever feel like shopping on a Sunday, forget it. Everything is closed.

Everywhere but here

Yesterday the weather report said it would snow all over France, a lot, except here. The children looked at me, but I could only shake my head. No snow here.
It is fun when it snows, especially in the south of France. Complete disaster. Everything stops. Marseille was expecting loads of snow and they are NOT used to that. I must remember to watch the news tonight to see what it looks like...

Update: This is an example..... Toulouse covered in snow

Friday, January 8, 2010

Top five monuments in Bordeaux

Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a beautiful city. With great difficulty I have picked five of my personal favourites, the ones you should see even if you come for a very short stay.

The first one is Place de la Bourse. It has become the symbol of the new Bordeaux.  Incredibly beautiful at night when the building is all lit up. The water mirror in front of it was inaugurated as late as 2006, but is already a modern classic. From this point you see out over the Garonne river and the beautiful walking area along the quays, where many newly renovated fronts are from the 17th century.
Grand théâtre in Bordeaux

Grand théâtre is a masterpiece from the 17th century in newclassic style. Today it serves as the national opera. The front 12 pillars form an impressive entrance. Above them, there are 12 statues, the nine muses plus Minerva, Venus and Junon. The spectactors are led into the concert hall through a magnificent staircase.

Monuments aux Girondins

Monument aux Girondins stands on Europe`s biggest place, place de Quinconces. It measures 43 metres with a statue of the angel of liberty breaking its chains on top. Further down on the side you see the female statues that symbolise Bordeaux, the river Garonne and the Dordogne region. On the other side you see a rooster, a symbol for France, together with two women, Retoric and History.  Below you see details of the statues.
Details Monument aux Girondins

But there are no statues of the Girondins? There should have been, but they ran out of money!

On the same place you will find two big statues of Montaigne and Montesquieu, two wellknown French philosophers.

Saint André Cathedral

I am no big church lover, but the Saint André cathedral is really special. Go inside and admire the enormous volumes and the beautiful ceiling decorations. It was built in the medieval ages in a gothic style. On the place next to the cathedral there are several nice cafés with big terasses. From the tower Pey Berland next to the cathedral you can enjoy a fantastic view over the city of Bordeaux. 

Inside Saint André Cathedral

The cathedral is on the UNESCO world heritage list since long, together with the churches Saint Michel and Saint-Seurin. They were part of the pilgrim road to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in Spain. From the tower of Saint Michel the view is great. The building was started in the 13th century  and finished 200 years later.

Saint Eloi

Bordeaux has several beautiful city portals. The oldest and most wellknown, Saint Eloi, is called the Grosse Cloche, the Big Bell, after its impressive bell weighing close to 8000 kilos. Traditionally the bell would sound every time something important happened. 

Bordeaux has 347 classified historical monuments, so I hope you will enjoy discovering the other 342 monuments on you own!

The tourist office in Bordeaux is very competent and arranges many different guided tours, by foot, by buss, by train and by boat.

Photo Place de la Bourse and inside the Saint André cathedral Nathan Bergeron Flickr
Grand théâtre Wikipedia
Photo Monument aux Girondins Wikipedia
Photo Grosse Cloche: C. Sotomayor
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