The Sweet City of Bordeaux, France
Updated: May 12
It was after watching an episode of House Hunters International showcasing the beautiful city of Bordeaux, that Rick and I pinkie-promised each other that Bordeaux would be the first place we traveled to once we gave up our day jobs. Giving up our day jobs is really code for retiring. So In the fall of 2018, with our careers in education behind us and our traveling days ahead of us, we packed up our luggage, kissed the kids and dog goodbye, and headed to the city of wine. With an amazing food scene and a wine culture centuries old, Bordeaux proved to be the perfect starting point for these traveling foodies to begin their explorations.
We flew into the Bordeaux airport, figured out how to navigate the public transportation system and arrived at our HomeAway apartment which would serve as our home base for the month of September. Besides the location in the historical centre, the best feature of the apartment was the balcony which looked out upon a cobblestone street and restaurants below.
TRAVEL TIP: A balcony is the perfect place for sipping coffee in the morning and wine in the evening, while watching the world go by.
Getting Around Bordeaux
Not wanting to rent a car and deal with parking issues, we decided to rely on public transportant. Lucky for us, Bordeaux has a very user-friendly public transportation system known as the TBM which is short for Transports Bordeaux Metropole. We purchased a month-long pass giving us unlimited access to the city's trams, buses, and river shuttles. There is even an app for the TBM making it easy to find the right transportation for where you are headed.
When we decided to explore a few cities and towns close to Bordeaux that were not accessible using the TBM, we downloaded the TRAINLINE app and found it to be extremely helpful. The TRAINLINE app provides timetables for the trains and allows you to purchase tickets using your phone.
Even though we were wiped out from jet lag, on our first day we had reservations at the most amazing restaurant, La Taquin, which set such a high bar for the rest of the month.
By the riverside and a bit of a walk from our apartment is where we found Le Taquin. The restaurant prepares dishes that are an eclectic mix between traditional and cutting edge. Seating is available both outside and inside; with a laid back atmosphere. So laid back in fact, that an adorable dog named Bourbon seemed to be a regular.
Standout dishes include a pickled watermelon and cantaloupe salad with goat cheese. I had never tried pickled watermelon but it was delightful. The order for roasted eggplant with fresh figs, pine nuts and grated cheese was a showstopper. The play between the sweet of the figs and eggplant with the sour of the cheese absolutely works! We also fell in love with the grilled octopus served with pickled veggies and a charcuterie board showcasing local meats. The steak with béarnaise sauce proved both traditional and perfect for the setting served with a local red wine recommended by the delightful and patience waiter. There are also a variety of desserts, but for this die-hard chocolate lover, I was smitten with the chocolate bar with popcorn.
Le Taquin was the perfect quintessential French restaurant, we dined there twice; on our first day and at the end of the month as a sweet farewell meal.
Here are a few more restaurants that we fell in love with and that are well worth seeking out while in Bordeaux.
There are no shortage of outstanding restaurants in Bordeaux and we must have walked passed Mampuku a dozen times before deciding to give it a try. I am so glad we did.
This place takes tapas to a whole new level with a fusion of Asian, Pacific Rim, Middle East and, of course, French flavors. The restaurant has an open kitchen concept and there is seating at the bar where we sat watching the chefs as they performed culinary magic. It was like having a front row seat for a cooking show.
We wanted to sample any and everything the chefs at Mampuku were preparing which included seared tuna, petite clams with soba noodles, and fried octopus.
Mollelleuses & Persillees should turn up on any web search when scouting for the perfect steak, which is exactly how we found, what I consider to be, the best steak house in Bordeaux. Mollelleuses & Persillees has a beautiful dining room and an inviting outside seating area in front of the restaurant as well, which, thanks to the warm September weather, is where we could be found on our last evening in Bordeaux.
Making reservations at Moelleuses & Persillees was a great decision and we absolutely enjoyed a magical dining experience. There was a blackboard posted by the doorway of the restaurant letting patrons know the types of steaks available for the evening; we chose from a variety of raw steaks the waiter presented to us on a tray. Having made our selection, we sat back with glasses of rich, red wine, enjoying the buzz of activity from other happy diners, most of them locals, while the restaurant chefs prepared a perfect steak. The beef was served cut from the bone with pommes frites, salad, and endless béarnaise sauce. Heaven...
This thriving oyster bar is located in the Marche des Capucins and is the ideal location to sip wine, enjoy fresh oysters and watch people as they shop in the market. It took us a few minutes to figure out how to get a table; locals were lining up by the oyster display case and being shown to tables by waiters as the tables became available.
This lunch was delightful and touring the market afterwards with a belly full of oysters and a head filled with wine was equally fun. In addition to oysters, Chez Jean-Mi offers a variety of other choices including cheeses and shrimps, which, of course, we had to sample as well.
We made an unexpected food find! There are several street food venders set up outside the Marche des Capucins offering an array of international specialties. After checking out the choices, we settled on a Vietnamese crepe; it was a treat watching the crepe being created while we watched.
Travel Tip: Sunday is the best day to visit the Marche des Capucins
Our Thoughts on Bordeaux...
Staying the month of September was ideal and the perfect amount of time for us. The weather was ideal; warm enough to enjoy bike rides and long walks along the river, and the train system allowed us to explore the city and beyond. The office of tourism provided a wealth of ideas especially focused on wine; we enjoyed four wine tours to the different areas in the region. Close to the tourism office is where we found my happy place-Bar ā Vin. We loved sitting at the bar, talking with the sommeliers, and enjoying glass after glass of wine, which is why we came to Bordeaux in the first place!
Every day was a new adventure in Bordeaux, around every corner was something new to explore. We truly felt like we were kids again and that somehow we landed in the most wonderful of amusement parks for a whole month. Love Bordeaux.