Bordeaux to Paris
27.04.2007 - 01.05.2007 25 °C
We have been in France for a week now since out last update and loving every bit of it. Having not spent a lot of time in France before both Scott and myself didn't really have set expectations of the place. After seeing some of its beautiful coastlines, experiencing some of its fantastic wineries, exploring some of its tiny towns and taking in everything its jewel Paris has to offer - we can certainly see why France is one of the most popular countries in the world to visit. It has everything on offer.
We feel like luck has been shining on us every step of the way in France. First of all we turn up in Bordeaux (without taking 1 single wrong turn!!) on a Friday. We hadn't factored in that Bordeaux is a weekend holiday destination, so we were very happy when we got good accomodation right in the centre of Bordeaux.
We had planned to visit some wineries, or Chateuax's as they're called in France (as one has to do in Bordeaux!) and thought this process would be much the same as it is in Australia. ie: rock up to the cellar door, go inside...sometimes hear a bit about the winery and then taste some of their wine. After enquiring at the Bordeaux tourist office we are told in France, you can't just 'turn up' for a tasting - you must have a reservation. It was now all sounding a bit too hard and we were told we could visit some wineries on a guided tour booked through the tourist office. Of alternatively if we had a car (this is the lucky part!) there was a special festival on in the little town of Saint Emilion that we wanted to go to, where for this weekend only the wineries had 'Portes Ouvertes en Saint Emilion'....'Open door in Saint Emilion', meaning we could turn up without a booking.
Most of the time on this trip we are doing sightseeing and day trips ourselves, rather than on guided tours where a lot of the time you're hearded in and hearded out on a big bus. But in this instance we were edging towards taking the easy/lazy option of the guided tour and not having to worry about finding our way there etc. So having made the decision to go on the guided tour, we return to the tourist office to buy tickets and find out that they have now been sold out (within the 2 hrs of our return).
So fate intervened and we found our way to Saint Emilion with no dramas, explored the medieval town and then started visiting wineries. One particular winery called La Rochebelle Chateaux was our favourite that used old style vats and equipment and had these amazing underground tunnels carved out of limestone, as a cellar storing all the barrels and bottles of wine. Doing the visit on our own enabled us to visit 4 chateauxs (instead of the 1 on the tour) and the money we saved on the tour we spent on wine instead. A much better investment I think!
We made good use of the car in Bordeaux and took another day trip to L'bassin Arcachon where we climbed the biggest sand dune in Europe. That was good for the buttocks and to burn off some of the yummy french sweets we've been enjoying.
Our initial plan from Bordeaux was to head to the Sth of France and the Riveria, however we looked up the weather forecast first and the weather in the Sth was ordinary. Having had our fair share of ordinary weather and the idea of being in the French Riveria when it was raining didn't appeal, so we decided to come to Paris instead.
Paris is a beautiful city that is impossible not to love. We left Bordeaux early yesterday morning for the 5 1/2 hr drive here. Scott did very well driving for the first 1 1/2 hr through very thick fog that you could only see about 15-20 metres in front of you. We arrived about lunch and had pre-booked accomodation that miraculously we found within 25 mins (remember, we have no map and are taking the directions from Michelin to the tee). Yesterday was probably our biggest day so far, as after getting up at 6am, we eventually went to bed at 12.30am after the adrenalin of being in Paris saw us walk the streets for hours. We did the Notre Dame, the Lourve, the Champs Elysees, climbed the Arc de Triomphe, stopped for a couple of drinks before heading to the Eiffel Tower when the sun was going down. We sat on the grass with the hordes of others to take in the beautiful sight of the sunset and the lights of the tower being turned on.
We had a much less busier day today and had a picnic on the grass in front of the Sacre Couer overlooking the city. Tomorrow we are going to stay with my friend Lisa for a few days who I worked with in London and now lives in Paris with her french husband.