Part 1: Bordeaux, France

I haven’t done this in a while, but there are too many photos from our wonderful time in Bordeaux, so I will be splitting this up into *gasp* a three part post! I’m not sure where to start, as the entire trip was dreamy (pardon my French) as fuck, but perhaps I’ll begin with our time in the city, and then get into a few of our French field trips a bit later.As you may know, King’s Day is a big to-do in Holland. To celebrate the monarchy, the Dutch dance, drink, sell second hand wares in the parks and along the roads, eat greasy street food, dress up (mainly in orange), and participate in a slew of other debaucherous activities (read an old King’s Day post here). The entire city shuts down, the trams don’t run, the streets and canals are packed with party goers, and music blasts from large speakers in the main squares for almost 24 hours straight. It’s definitely one of my favorite days of the year, and this year was especially jubilant as Amie, Jess, and Andrew flew all the way over from the US to get celebrate with us! As the trip to Europe is not a casual jaunt, we also tacked a little French getaway onto their European visit (I bet you were wondering where I was going with King’s Day in the Bordeaux post!)I was meant to go to Bordeaux last year to run a half marathon, but due to my work schedule, I had to cancel (more on missing that marathon here!) So while a lot of my friends have checked out Bordeaux, I had never been. I’ve visited to Paris a few times and have been to San Sebastian in Spain which is geographically close, but I’ve never experienced the world’s most famous wine region first hand. Although we wanted to do a few mini excursions, we decided to rent an apartment in the heart of Bordeaux so we could easily hit up restaurants in the city and drink too much at dinner, and not have to worry about driving home. We stayed here which was fabulous and was our top choice, because it not only was central (in Chartrons) and had three bedrooms, but also had a private hot tub!On our first day in Bordeaux we got familiar with the lay of the land. We strolled along the Garonne into the center of town, stopping at a few sights that called to us.We walked up towards the Esplanade des Quinconces, where we found a sprawling antique market. This is my kind of market to explore – with so many well loved and hidden gems, I could spend hours digging through old boxes of linens or rummaging among second hand furniture. I tried not to look too close, as I had a small suitcase and not a whole lot of room for bringing any treasures back to Amsterdam.We did however linger at some of the snack stands, which had giant doughy delights, my favorite of which were smothered in melting Nutella. We continued our stroll up past the Monument aux Girondins and wove our way into the city center, where the girls peeled off for some shopping and the guys went in search of ice cream. I never have time to go shopping in Amsterdam (unless it’s apartment related) so I love ducking into clothing shops and specialty boutiques while traveling. It’s also a fun activity to do solo if I am traveling for a work trip. This time around we wandered down Rue du Trois-Conils where we popped into more mainstream stores like Sephora. We then met up with our very French-looking men enjoying their cones of crème glacée (from Bonnie Blue, which the guys said was superb!)We all agreed that it was time for an afternoon snack, so we weighed up our options (which were plentiful in the area!) and popped into Le Cafecito, a small corner bar with a decent happy hour :) We had a few tall cocktails before craving something more substantial, and wandered a bit further down the street for some French snacks. We stopped at Le Petit Commerce on a whim, as they were serving dinner food despite the early afternoon hour. I am surprised to see they have average ratings on Trip Advisor, as their food was delicious! We sat at a small table outside and ordered wine, cheese, snails, cured meat, and a platter of oysters. It wasn’t the most cohesive meal, but it was a warm welcome to France with some of our favorite delicacies.  We wandered around a bit more, but when it started to get dark, we knew we had to find a spot to eat something a bit more substantial for dinner. A friend of Kai’s from Bordeaux had suggested we stop by L’Autre Petit Bois, which happened to be a short walk from our wine and snack spot. I loved the interior here – there were large trees growing up and through the restaurant, while the decor sang with cozy relics akin to what you might stumble accross in your grandma’s living room. While I had a large salad, the others sampled more traditional French dishes such as the croque madame (which I hear was fantastic) and the cassoulet with duck. The portions were big and the atmosphere truly made the experience.It was a fabulous first day in Bordeaux, filled with great sights, food, and company. In the coming days, we had some even more exciting excursions around the region, which I am excited to tell you about next :D

Until then x

Ali

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