14thJuly 2018 Coutras to Bordeaux
It was time to leave our holiday house today. We got up and packed our bags. We were leaving our rooms and opened up the door to the rest of the house and we saw banners and balloons decorating our doorway. What a lovely surprise and a wonderful way to start my day. We went down to breakfast and Megan had balloons decorating the table with French birthday napkins – Joyeaux Anniversaire. We had our final French breakfast, packed the car and left. We were driving again on the wrong side of the road in our Peugeot hire car – for the final time thankfully!
We dropped the cars off at the airport and caught a cab into Bordeaux. There is no way that we could’ve driven into the city. We checked into the hotel and one of the three rooms were ready, so we could leave our bags in that room and go out. We ended up going upstairs to the rooftop bar. We shared a bottle of sparkling wine and had lunch. Phil, Mum and I went out to explore and headed to the tourist information centre. We were interested in a bus tour around Bordeaux and a boat tour on the river that goes through the town. We couldn’t do both this afternoon, so opted for the river cruise today and we will have time in the morning to go on the bus.
We headed down to the river. It was so hot walking in the sunshine! It was around 30 degrees Celsius – although it felt much hotter walking in the blazing sun. As we were walking past the river, I found the reflection fountain that I was looking for. It was so pretty. We took some photos but needed to get to the pier for the boat tour.
We got there with time to spare (thankfully) and were able to get a seat on the boat outside in the shade. They also had cold drinks for sale (which we had checked prior to boarding). The river looked as though it was at low tide, which the guide later confirmed. There is a large difference between high and low tide – a difference of about 6 metres (on average) every 6 or so hours. We were almost at the lowest of the low tide. We went upriver with the guide pointing out many items of interest on the riverbanks and within the river.
She pointed out the wine museum which had the weirdest shape. Apparently it was supposed to replicate the swirl patterns when you swirl the red wine around the glass. It just looked strange to me. There were quite a few river cruise boats docked and she was explaining that it was a popular port for these cruises. They do also get larger cruise ships in – although not as large as our ship.
We also saw where they had moved the working dockyards to, which was probably about 10 km upriver from the city. They used to be very close to the city, however this area has been converted into shops and restaurants, catering to tourists and locals alike.
The water was quite brown as the river and the water from the sea met around Bordeaux. Due to the massive fluctuations in water levels, there are very strong currents which stir up the sand from the bottom. The freshwater from the river also has silt, which combine to make it look brown. The guide reassured us however, that the river wasn’t ‘dirty’ at all and it was all natural, not from pollution.
On our return down river back to the pier, when the tide had dropped even further, there were some wrecks of boats remaining from the Second World War. They have chosen to leave them there as they help to stabilise the riverbanks.
We really enjoyed our journey and decided to walk home a different way exploring anything that took our fancy. We walked through this interesting looking way and discovered a beautiful square, that had an ice-cream shop. I think Phil can sniff them out personally. It had a fairly long line, which generally means that it’s great, so we lined up. Mum had a small caramel cup, I had a small chocolate cup and Phil had a cone with mint chocolate and vanilla. They were really nice. We wandered back to the hotel slowly savouring our ice-cream. The streets were packed, which was not surprising considering it was Bastille Day. Bastille Day is the French national day that commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the unity of the French people.
We got back to our room and had time to relax before going out to dinner. Unfortunately for us we had problems with our air conditioning. We thought it was just because the sun was beaming down on our window and it would get better when the sun went down.
We went out for dinner at a restaurant that Megan had chosen. The chef for this restaurant had worked at a prestigious restaurant and was venturing out independently. The food was lovely and our waiter was able to explain the food to us in English, which was very helpful, and Megan and Paul helped with any other explanations required.
The food was delicious and the service fantastic. I wanted to go and take photos back near the reflection fountain and because it was still my birthday, Phil agreed. We got an Uber back to the hotel from the restaurant (as it was about a 2.5 kilometre walk (which we had done when we went there)). Mum came back with us and went to bed, whilst we got the tripod, changed out of our fancy clothes and our fancy shoes, and headed back out again.
There were heaps of people still walking around. We found a more direct route down to the river and were surprised at all of the people there just before midnight. We took some photos of the reflection fountain and then the river. By this time it was after 12:30 am and there was still a celebratory feeling down there. There were lots of kids playing in the water, having a great time as it was still quite warm. Some kids ended up playing soccer in the water, although I think they all fell over in the water at different points. The water was only about 2cm deep. There were another group of kids who had plastic cups and scooping up the water to then splash each other. Everyone was having a great time.
We walked back to the hotel and got in around 1am. We thought that the room would be cooler – we were wrong! We worked out how to open the window and used the fan to try to cool the room down. It wasn’t a very comfortable sleep.