Travel to Bordeaux, France – Episode 536

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Travel to Bordeaux, France - What to do, eat and see in one of France's premier wine regions

Hear about travel to Bordeaux, France as the Amateur Traveler talks to Jennifer Dombrowski from about her new hometown in one of France’s most famous wine regions.


“A lot of people didn’t come to Bordeaux. They knew about Bordeaux because it was such a famous French wine, but it wasn’t a place that people realized was even the name of a city in France. For so long the many wine châteaux around Bordeaux were really closed off to the public. All of the wine was really sold off in wine auctions long before it even goes into the bottles and there wasn’t much wine tourism that was going on here.”

“But now the city has really revitalized itself, especially in the last year, and there are a lot of unique wine tours that are happening here. The wine châteaux are opening up to the public. You can visit these beautiful almost castle-like fairytale-like vineyards and even many of them have shops now where you can purchase wine. It’s a great time to come to Bordeaux.”

Jennifer guides us around the old city with its old towers, cathedral and historic port. The port building used as a graphic for this episode is a UNESCO listed site.

You can’t have wine without enjoying some good food as well after all this is France, so Jennifer guides us to some of her favorite local restaurants in Bordeaux.

She also gets us outside of the city to Europe’s largest sand dune and of course to some of the wine châteaux. For something different she even recommends a tour to the various châteaux clinging to the back of a Harley Davidson.

After discovering Bordeaux on a Viking River Cruise, hear why a location independent travel blogger would choose Bordeaux when she could live anywhere.

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Show Notes

Lux Adventure Traveler
Viking River Cruises – Châteaux, Rivers & Wine cruise
Bordeaux Tourism
Intercontinental Grand Hotel (reviews | check prices |  Expedia)
Harley Davidson wine tour (reviews)
Port Cailhau tower visit
La Salle a Manger des Chartrons Restaurant (reviews)
La Cite du Vin
Dune de Pilat
Hasnaa Chocolat Grand Crus
Marche des Capucins
The Port of the Moon
Le Pressoir d’Argent, Bordeaux
Dune of Pilat
Bordeaux’s Food and Wine Scene


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Travel to Bordeaux, France - What to do, eat and see in one of France's premier wine region


Chris: Amateur Traveler, episode 536. Today, the Amateur Traveler talks about vineyards, a wine festival, a wine museum, and then some other stuff. But basically, we’re talking about wine, because we‘re going to Bordeaux in France.

Chris: Welcome to the Amateur Traveler. I’m your host Chris Christensen. Stay tuned after this episode for an update on the two tours that we’re doing next year with Amateur Traveler. But now, let’s talk about Bordeaux.

I’d like to welcome to the show Jennifer Dombrowski from, who’s come back to talk to us about another part of France. Jennifer, welcome back to the show.

Jennifer: Thanks, Chris. It’s nice to be back.

Chris: And you happen to be living in France now.

Jennifer: I am. I am living in Bordeaux.

Chris: It’s a dirty thankless job. But somebody’s got to do it.

Jennifer: That’s absolutely right.

Chris: And you pitched Bourdeaux, not that it was difficult, definitely a region I’d love to talk about. But we haven’t yet on the show. But why should someone come to Bordeaux?

Jennifer: I was here a year ago. And even just a year before I moved to Bordeaux, a lot has changed. And it’s funny, because a lot of people didn’t come to Bordeaux. They knew about Bordeaux, because it’s such a famous French wine.

Chris: We’ve drunk Bordeaux, yeah.

Jennifer: But it wasn’t a place that people realize is even actually the name of a city in France. And for so long, the many wine chateaux around Bordeaux were really closed off to the public. All of the wine was sold in wine auctions long before it even goes into the bottles. And there wasn’t much wine tourism that was going on here. But now the city has really revitalized itself, especially in the last year. And there’s a lot of really unique wine tours that are happening here. The wine chateaux are opening up to the public. You can visit these beautiful, almost castle like fairy tale like vineyards. And you can taste the wines. And even many of them have shops now where you can actually purchase some of the wines right there from the chateaux. So it’s a great time to come to Bordeaux.

Chris: It’s interesting how that didn’t take off in Europe as soon as it took off in California, for instance. And I think a lot of Americans, when they went over, expected that there would be wine tastings everywhere. There’d be tourists. There’d be shops and all of that, just kind of some of these very, very classic wine regions.

Jennifer: That’s really true. I’ve been to Napa Valley. And it’s a very…I hate to say commercialized wine tourism there is. Every chateau has some sort of tasting tour. And a lot of times, you don’t have to even book them in advance. You can kind of show up. And they actually hire people that are solely responsible for doing the tours. But it’s really different here. And especially I think it’s hard for Americans to understand. You think of these just massive wine producers especially here in Bordeaux. And it’s really hard to even fathom that these wine chateaux that are turning out millions of bottles of wine each year have a staff of maybe 10 or 15 people.

Chris: Interesting.

Jennifer: So they don’t have someone that is solely responsible for conducting wine tours. And when they do have wine tours, they really have to stop all of their other wine-related activities to have someone come and do a tour for you. So I think that’s the difference in visiting some place like Napa Valley where wine tourism is an industry and coming here to France where the winemakers themselves are often doing the tours for you. And they want you to come and visit them. But it’s really essential to book appointments in advance. They’re very proud to show off their wine chateau. But they need that advance notice to take the time out to visit with you and show you around and properly have you taste their wine.

Chris: Let’s put Bordeaux on a map for people who may not have a picture of France in their mind. Where are we here?

Jennifer: So we’re in the very southwest corner of France. So if you’re looking at a map of Europe, you’re gonna find Bordeaux just above the border of Spain and slightly in from the Atlantic Ocean.

Chris: In the old historic region of the Aquitaine?

Jennifer: Yes, exactly.

Chris: Excellent. Which was for many, many years English, but not in recent years, going back to the days of Richard the Lionheart at that point. Excellent. So what do you recommend for an itinerary for Bordeaux?

Jennifer: A lot of people come. And the way that most people are visiting Bordeaux right now is on a lot of the river cruises. But I think it’s worth spending time and coming here to the city. So you definitely wanna allot at least a few days to stay right in the city of Bordeaux. We have a new wine museum, which has been treated as the sort of Disneyland of wine museums. And it’s called La Cite du Vin. That’s right here in the heart of the city of Bordeaux. And it really takes a few hours to go through. And it’s a museum that’s not just about Bordeaux wine. It’s about all of the world’s greatest wine regions. And the visit ends with a wine-tasting on the very top floor with a gorgeous panoramic view of Bordeaux. Even if you’re not so into visiting museums, it’s worth it for that wine-tasting at the end alone.

Chris: Now, you mentioned that people are visiting Bordeaux on river cruises. And I had to look up…I honestly couldn’t have told you what river Bordeaux was even on.

Jennifer: It’s actually situated on the Garonne River. And it sort of goes off into a Y of the Dordogne. And then it flows out into the Atlantic Ocean. So people are coming to Bordeaux a lot of times on the river cruises. And it’s a little bit different than the typical river cruises, if you’ve been on one in Europe, because of the way the river is situated on this Y. So you kind of do a little bit of backtracking. I’ve been on the Viking river cruise through Bordeaux here. And you visit places like Cadillac. And also, you can go to Cognac and visit some of the Cognac houses, like Hennessy. And you can even blend your own Cognac from their barrels there. So that’s a really interesting experience. And you get a bottle of Cognac to take home with you.

Chris: And Cognac being a distilled wine, if I remember my les coeurs correctly?

Jennifer: Yes, it’s like a brandy. So, of course, it’s still made from grapes. But it’s much stronger. And you would have it as an after-dinner drink. And you can visit a lot of different…the chateaux, do pours, St. Emilion, which is on the left bank. And then you can visit the Medoc, which is where the really famous wine chateaux like Lafite-Rotschild are located, on the left bank. So you can do all of those things on a river cruise. But even though you see a lot, it still feels a bit rushed to me. Whereas, if you come and you spend the time in the city, you can do a lot of these things now all on your own. And they’re easily accessible from right here in Bordeaux.

Chris: So where would you home-base, first of all. You’d home-base in Bordeaux itself?

Jennifer: You can definitely home-base in Bordeaux. There are some really fantastic hotels that are here in the city. And there are vineyards that are quite close that you can reach within 15 minutes from the city even on public transportation, which is great because, of course, France has very, very strict drinking and driving laws. So it’s great when you can get out to the wineries on public transportation and not have to worry about driving out there and indulging a little too much.

Chris: Okay. So you started us at the wine museum. Where should we go next?

Jennifer: There’s a lot of great things to do in Bordeaux. And if you’re not into wine, there’s things to do for the non-drinkers and even for families as well. So in Bordeaux, we have more listed historical buildings than any other city in France outside of Paris, of course. So there’s just a lot of really beautiful architecture here. The city has the nickname “The Sleeping Beauty,” because this was a city that was a port city, had a lot of shipping. And so, of course, with all of the boats coming in and the industry that was here, you had a lot of pollution. And the buildings are made from a beautiful and very porous granite and limestone. And so they absorbed all this black soot from when this was an industrial port. And so for many, many years, the buildings were covered in the sort of black grime just from years and years of pollution.

And over the last couple of years the mayor has offered tax credits to residences and businesses to go ahead and do a cleaning up their buildings. And so now, the city, it’s so gorgeous. It’s this very soft creamy color. And the buildings have been cleaned. And it’s very sunny here. This is one of the sunniest places in France, actually. And when you have that golden hour when the sun’s getting ready to set and it illuminates the buildings on the soft light, it’s my favorite time of day to sort of just stroll around and take in the beautiful buildings of the city.

Chris: Well, and you mentioned the beautiful buildings and the port. And I see that part of the old port is actually a UNESCO world heritage site, the Port of the Moon.

Jennifer: Yes. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, of course, if you’re interested in visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world, this is a great place to come and stroll around for that reason as well. And there’s a lot of great rooftop views that you can get of the city. Bordeaux was a fortified city once upon a time. And so we have these old gates that are still left from when the wall surrounded the city. And there are several of them that you can climb up the staircases to the top and get gorgeous views over all of the old Roman parts as well as the newer neoclassical parts. And it’s just so gorgeous to see where those two different times come together and how it’s melded.

Chris: Is there a particular gate you would recommend we climb up?

Jennifer: I have several that I really like. There’s one that’s right along the river. And that’s my…I think my favorite viewpoint, because you cannot only look over the river, but you also have Le Miroir d’eau, which is a water mirror. It’s the largest water mirror reflecting pool in the world, actually. And it’s situated just across from Place de la Bourse, which is where the famous classifications of the Bordeaux wines took place. And it’s just this really, really gorgeous spot. And so you can climb up the gate there, have this view over the water mirror, over the Place de la Bourse. And then you can turn around and sort of look into the heart of the city, and you see the spires of the cathedrals sticking up. And you can see the cobbled streets of the old sort of medieval part of the town winding through and just see people enjoying themselves as they do here in Bordeaux. So that would be my favorite one to go up to. And, of course, that’s just a viewpoint.

But if you’re wanting to take in some wine with a viewpoint, you can go to the very heart of the city, to the Intercontinental Grand Hotel. And they have a rooftop bar there, and you can get a glass of wine and really sort of be in the middle of it all and looking around you and see everything that’s going on while enjoying your wine. So that would be my other favorite.

Chris: Okay. And you mentioned a medieval center, and I see buildings going back to 1096 and 12th century and those sort of things. But you also mentioned some Roman parts of the city.

Jennifer: We have a part of a coliseum that remains. It’s called the Palais Gallien. And there’s sort of different stories about how it came to be or the time that it’s from. But it does date back to Roman times. And there’s just a little bit of ruins left of it that are remaining. And you can sort of stand on a terrace and look out over the ruins that are remaining of the Palais Gallien. And you can picture what it was like to sit in the stands and take in the different events that they would have had there. And that’s actually a free thing to do here in the city. So it’s about 10 minutes strolling in from the river. It’s very easy to access. And it’s a beautiful viewpoint that a lot of tourists don’t actually know about.

Chris: Okay. What else should we do?

Jennifer: Aside from the La Cité du Vin, which is the wine museum, there’s a lot of other great museums that are here in Bordeaux. So you can go to the modern art museum. There’s a history museum. So you can take in the different parts of history that happened here throughout Bordeaux and France.

Aside from museums, there’s a lot of food-related things to do here in Bordeaux. This is a really great foodie city. One of my favorite places to go is the Marches des Capucins. And this is an indoor market that is open daily in the morning time, very early from 5:30 in the morning until about 1:00 in the afternoon. And everyone that lives here in Bordeaux goes there to buy their fresh produce and things. But there’s a lot of people that are selling things like fresh oysters from the bay of Arcachon. And so you can get six oysters and a glass of wine for five euro and enjoy that or a steamed pot of mussels that are cooked in wine and creme fresh. So there’s different food things that you can do at the market even if you’re just visiting. So it’s well worth going to.

Chris: And you mentioned foodie. Do you have other favorite restaurants in town that you would recommend either for fancy occasions or simple dining?

Jennifer: I have favorites for both. The great thing about Bordeaux is that it is being revitalized. And so we have some of the world’s most famous chefs setting up shop here. Gordon Ramsay has two different restaurants here. One is a bistro, which is more affordable. And really anyone can dine there. And then, of course, he has a Michelin starred restaurant. So if you really want to indulge, you can go there. There’s a lot of young chefs that are also coming to Bordeaux who are very innovative. And they’re mixing the Southwestern French cuisine that this region is known for with more modern techniques. And so there’s a lot of great places to come and eat in the city. I think that we could probably spend two or three hours alone discussing just that. But one of my favorites is a little place that is only open for lunch, three days a week. And it has a set menu.

Chris: And when we say a set menu, we don’t always talk about this on Amateur Traveler, so I wanna make sure that if somebody’s listening for the first time, so a fixed menu where there’s an entrée and an appetizer and a little wine with it and a dessert, all for one fixed price.

Jennifer: Right. So you don’t have choices between what you’re going to choose for your appetizer, you’re entree. The menu is set for the day. And it’s typically posted on a chalkboard. So you can definitely take a look at that before you sit down and decide maybe the cuisine of the day isn’t for you.

Chris: And well, and set by the chef with whatever is fresh today too, since we’re in France.

Jennifer: Right. That’s the thing about these set menus is that they change so often, because the chef does prepare everything from fresh ingredients. They go to places like the Marche des Capucins, and they pick out the vegetables that are in season, the fish that has been freshly caught, the meats that are fresh from the farmers in the region. And so they create their menus based on what they can obtain fresh for that day. So it changes. And they don’t often post their menus online for you to look at it in advance, just because it’s really hard to say…

Chris: What they’re gonna find that morning, yeah.

Jennifer: …what’s gonna be fresh. We were talking about one of my favorite little places that’s sort of more affordable than, say, Gordon Ramsay Michelin-starred restaurant here in Bordeaux. And this place is great too, because it’s also a little wine shop. And so they have fantastic wine pairings. You can pick up bottles of wine there to purchase as well. It’s called La Salle a Manger des Chartrons. And like I said, it’s open only for lunch, and it’s only a few days of the week, Wednesday through Friday for lunch, and has the set menu. But it’s quite affordable. And you can have the wine pairings. So it’s a really good favorite choice of mine here in Bordeaux for an affordable meal.

Chris: Okay. And for those people who can’t make out when we’re talking about things French, we’ll have links to all these things in the show notes. Excellent. Where to next?

Jennifer: One of the ways that you can tour around Bordeaux…and this is more of a summer activity. It’s down now for the season. But there’s a company that will take you on a Harley Davidson tour of the vineyards. I think that’s a really cool way to…that’s interesting to go out and have a different experience taking in the vineyards as you sort of ride through the rolling hills of nearby St. Emilion.

Chris: Now, am I riding a bike, or am I in a sidecar or hanging on the back for dear life?

Jennifer: Hanging on the back for dear life. They don’t allow you to rent and drive the Harley yourself because of the strict laws here with motorcycles in France. And so the guide has a helmet that has a radio where you can talk to each other. And you can hear what they’re saying as they point out different sites, since you have all that wind that’s whipping over you as you ride on the Harley. So you do ride with the guide. And they have multiple Harleys. So if you’re coming with a friend or a group, you can all go and do this together. So that’s one of the interesting ways that you can tour around.

Chris: And you haven’t lived there quite all year round yet. But what would you recommend is the best time to come to Bourdeaux?

Jennifer: So far, my experience has been that the weather is always fantastic. Right now, we’re into fall. But it’s still very lovely weather. Of course, all of the wine has been harvested now. And so you’ve got the fall colors that are on the vines. I think that when you decide that you want to come really depends on what you want to see. If you want to see the grapes on the vines, I would really recommend coming in July to August. Even though the French take their holidays and a lot of things like smaller businesses like the cheese shops and things close down, they really only affect the local people. And what’s great about coming in August is the city is really, really empty. But this is not the time that the wine chateaux take their vacations.

Chris: Oh, interesting.

Jennifer: This is the time that they’re really, really busy, because they’re starting to gear up for the harvest, which will start to happen in late September and early October. So they’re doing a lot of things like trimming the vines. And they’re really open to welcoming people to the chateaux during that time. So it’s a great time to come if you want to go visit wine chateaux and see the beautiful green vines with the grapes that are starting to ripen.

Coming up soon, the Christmas market is starting to set up. So there’s a big Christmas market here in December. It actually starts the 24th of this month, November, and will run until the day before Christmas time. So you can come in winter time and experience something a little bit different with the very festive holiday season, the little wooden chalets set up for Christmas markets. And you can buy a lot of locally made handicrafts from artists and buy a lot of different food items, of course, have vin chaud, which is mulled hot wine and roasted chestnuts. So that’s another favorite time of mine to visit Europe and France, in particular, during the holiday season.

And, of course, spring is beautiful, because you have all of the flowers in bloom. The vines are just starting to get their leaves again. So it’s a really nice time of the year to come. It’s not too hot yet. And, again, not everyone is here in a crowded summer season.

Chris: Okay, excellent. Where to next?

Jennifer: So you can also do a lot of great day trips from Bordeaux. The great thing about Bordeaux is that it’s not all just about wine and food. You have to do things to work off the wine and food. So Europe’s largest sand dune is actually located just outside of Bordeaux. And you can climb up the sand dune. It’s called the Dune du Pilat. And you can climb up the front side of the sand dune. And if you’re really adventurous, you can do things like paragliding off of the top of the sand dune and landing in the Atlantic Ocean. Or you can climb down the backside of it, which goes right down to the Atlantic Ocean. On the front side, there’s a staircase to make it easy to get to the top and have this gorgeous view over the Bay of Arcachon. But if you decide to climb down the backside of it to go to the beach where you’ll find virtually no one, you do have to trek back up a very large and high sand dune. And I’ve done it. And it will definitely work off everything that you’ve eaten in France in a week in your hour-trek back up that dune.

Chris: Well, it looks like they’re putting the height here as I look it up at about 110 meters. So three hundred feet, so that’s quite a few stories, 20 stories or something like that.

Jennifer: Yes. It’s pretty high. It’s really spectacular to see. Looking out from the top, you see what’s called the Bay of Arcachon. You have all of these sort of sandbars where France’s majority of their oysters come from. So you can visit not only the dune, but you can go and visit some of the oyster farmers and eat the freshest oysters that you will ever have in your entire life. I didn’t used to be an oyster fan until I came here last year. And I had my arm twisted into trying them. And now, I’m a fan. They’re the best oysters in the world.

Chris: Okay. Are there other side trips we should do from Bordeaux?

Jennifer: Spain is actually quite close. And we have Pyrenees as well. So within an hour of Bordeaux in the wintertime, you can go skiing. In the summer, spring, and fall, you can go hiking in the Pyrenees. So there’s a lot of outdoor things to do. We talked about the rivers earlier on. And I mentioned the Dordogne River. And there’s a lot of kayaking that you can do on the Dordogne River. And there are some really, really beautiful villages that sit up on cliffs. And you can kayak from village to village in the Dordogne. And so that’s another great outdoor thing to do here in Bordeaux.

Chris: Well. And for listeners of this show, we did an episode on the Dordogne recently. And so this is actually some place that is fairly close to there. So it’s someplace that’s easy to combine the two potentially in a longer trip.

Jennifer: I think that’s one of my favorite things about Bordeaux is that it combines all of the things that I love together, having that outdoors so readily available, yet having a bustling, really lively, exciting city to be part of outside of my doorstep.

Chris: Excellent. Now, you have been living in Italy for years. I’m getting the impression you’re still learning French?

Jennifer: I am definitely still learning French.

Chris: How hard is it to get by without being a native French speaker in Bordeaux?

Jennifer: I think as far as coming here as a tourist, you’re fine. English is not very widely spoken in Bordeaux like it is when you go to Paris. And so it’s definitely been more challenging living here, because all of the things that come to daily life, like finding an apartment and setting up my utilities, have been dealing with people that don’t speak any English. And I did not speak French before I came here. And so I’m learning. But as someone that’s visiting the city, I don’t think it’s any reason to be concerned about not being able to communicate. The people that work in restaurants and shops and all of the museums and activities that I’ve mentioned, they have those available in English. Most wineries speak English. And when you visit their website, when you’re deciding which wine chateaux that you do want to visit, they will list the languages that are available. So if you’re not a French speaker and they don’t offer a tour in English, that’s probably not the best wine chateau for you to visit. But it’s relatively easy for someone that’s visiting the city to get about without speaking French.

Chris: Before we get to my last questions, were there other things you wanna cover?

Jennifer: I am every day just delving into the city and the surroundings more and more. And so it’s something that I’ve been writing about on my website, Luxe Adventure Traveler. So definitely, come and follow me there, because…

Chris: You’re still discovering.

Jennifer: I’m still discovering. And every day, it’s something new that I discover or a new chocolate shop. Like this new one that’s Chocolats Hasnaa has just recently opened. And now this is the best chocolate shop in Bordeaux. And they’ve just received the award for the best chocolate shop in France. There’s all of these new things that are always happening here to discover. So it’s really hard to say, “Oh yes, you have to do this or that.” So I’m working on writing a guide, because there isn’t a whole lot of information out there on Bordeaux.

Chris: What’s the best day you’ve spent in Bordeaux so far?

Jennifer: Sundays are oddly my favorite day in Bordeaux. And I say oddly, because it’s a place that’s still very traditional. And Sunday is a day of rest, and not a whole lot is open. But one of my favorite farmers markets happens every Sunday on the quay, which is along the riverside. It’s the Marche des Chartrons. And there you can go and eat all of these wonderful things. And I do my weekly shopping. My dog lives here with me in France. So we go together every Sunday. And we kind of relax and have some wine along the river, some fresh oysters, do our fruit and veggie shopping for the week. And then I usually stop on the way home and have a glass of wine outside a terrace, outside one of the many, many wine bars that are here in Bordeaux. So those days that I can just really enjoy my surroundings and sort of soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful city are my favorite times.

Chris: Okay. Best day of the year to come, festival or event or…

Jennifer: In June every year, there is a festival called the Fete du Vin. And this is a wine festival that sets up along the quayside. And it’s over two kilometers long. You have wineries from every appellation of wine that there is here in the Bordeaux region. And there are 57 different wine appellations within the wine region. So you can get a tasting pass. And you actually taste a wine over the course of the four-day long festival. You can taste one from all 57 appellations. You might need to have a little detox after your trip to Fete du Vin. But you can really enjoy and taste all of the different types of wines that are offered here in the region. And they are quite, quite different. You have everything from sweet wines that are very golden in color to, of course, the traditional Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux wines.

Chris: Excellent, excellent. That’s the Fete du Vin.

Jennifer: Yes, and that happens every year in July.

Chris: Excellent. You mentioned the wine museum. Are there other particular museums or places where you have been able to get in touch with the culture?

Jennifer: I really like the different art museums that are around the city. Just today, before we got on our Skype call here, I was at a little exhibition of arts and gourmands, so art paired with great food. And there’s a lot of great local artists that are here in Bordeaux. And being able to see and talk with them about their artwork is really unique. So there’s a lot of those types of exhibitions that go on. Or there might be a special exhibition at the La Cite du Vin, the wine museum. And sometimes there are longer exhibitions that happen at the modern art museum that’s located here.

Chris: Well, and I appreciate the festival for gourmands, because I am more of a gourmand than a gourmet, someone who loves eating, isn’t necessarily all that picky about it, though. The prettiest spot in Bordeaux, the prettiest spot where you’re standing, what are you looking at?

Jennifer: I don’t even have to hesitate. It’s the Miroir d’eau.

Chris: I wondered if it wouldn’t be, okay.

Jennifer: This is my favorite spot. I go here daily. It goes through this cycle where you have three minutes that the water sort of drains, and it gives the mirror of facts where just across the Place de la Bourse, which sort of curves around in a hugging style, like the arms of the Vatican, it reflects on to the mirror. So it goes through three minutes of that. And then it has three minutes of steam. And then it has 15 minutes where the water fills up.

Chris: Of steam, sorry?

Jennifer: Steam, yes. It creates this cloud of mist that rises up out of it. So at this time of the year where the weather is cooling down and the water from the mirror is so warm, it creates a sort of rolling fog that goes across the big square. And so it’s really interesting to look at. And since I do go there every day, it’s interesting to see how the light changes. The sun sets behind it. So it’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset and just to see how the light has changed over the course of the last few months as the days have gotten shorter and how the position of the sun in the sky changes and creates different light effects on it. It’s really interesting. So it’s definitely my favorite place in Bordeaux.

Chris: One thing that makes you laugh and say, “Only in Bordeaux”?

Jennifer: The French with their dogs. It’s a whole nother part of the French culture. And the Italians weren’t so crazy about dogs.

Chris: Oh, interesting, okay.

Jennifer: For me, now living in France with a dog when I lived previously in Italy with a dog, it really makes me laugh, because they always have to stop and sort of coo over her. And I don’t have a little dog. I have an Aussie shepherd mix. So she’s a larger dog. But she’s an unusual white shepherd to see here in France. It’s not a typical dog. But everyone has to stop and talk about her. And a lot of times, I still don’t understand what they’re saying, because I’m just working on my French. But it does make me laugh. But it’s a definitely “only in Bordeaux” thing.

Chris: Finish this thought, you really know you’re in Bordeaux when what?

Jennifer: When you’re having fantastic wine. I can say that having lived in Italy where there is as really good wine, but the wine when you come to Bordeaux and you have the wine here is life-changing. You will not look at wine again ever in the same way. It’s a whole different level of wine. It’s really good.

Chris: And if you had to summarize Bordeaux in just three words, what three words would you use?

Jennifer: Luxury, wine, and adventure really encompass it all.

Chris: Now, I wasn’t asking you to summarize your blog. Will that be the same three words if we were to summarize what you are writing about?

Jennifer: It would. It really…

Chris: There’s a reason why you ended up in Bordeaux then.

Jennifer: I think it was a really good match. But, no, seriously, luxury, wine, and adventure. The luxury part of it being that it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that’s really expensive like a Michelin-starred meal. But just having the luxury of drinking some of the world’s best wine and having it available all the time here is something that’s definitely a luxury. And then, like I said, there’s a lot of things that you can go and do that are adventure-related that are so close to the city. And, of course, it’s Bordeaux. So it’s synonymous with wine.

Chris: So we’re talking again to Jennifer Dombrowski from Jennifer, if we had one particular post about Bordeaux that you’ve written recently that you wanna recommend to our audience, what would that be?

Jennifer: I would say to go to my website and check out a very recent post that’s about Bourdeaux’s food and wine scene. And so I share a lot of the specialties of the region and some of my favorite places to eat and some of my favorite desserts to try as well as great wines.

Chris: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for coming on Amateur Traveler and sharing with us your love for your new found home of Bordeaux.

Jennifer: Thank you for having me.

Chris: An update on the Amateur Traveler trips for next year, as you know, there are two trips going on next year, one in June to Japan and one in November to India, links to both of those under the Book Travel tab on And when I say next year, we’re talking about 2017. I understand you may live in the future, but I live in the past. One piece of news on the Japan trip is that Context Travel has offered us a day trip in one of the cities. So we’re still deciding that. If you sign up for the tour, you can help me make that decision. But, basically, they do some wonderful day trips. And so we’re gonna do one of their day trips either in Tokyo or Kyoto. More information about that in the Amateur Traveler trips group,

And news of the community, I heard today from Mike who said, “I’ve been listening to the podcast since 2007 and have enjoyed it very much. Just wanted to let you know that we just completed the cruise between Valparaiso and Buenos Aires that you described in a podcast. We loved the cruise and never would have known about it but for your podcast. Thanks for all your insights and tips throughout the years. And please feel free to let Holland America know that your podcast had an impact on their business. Also, we intend to highly recommend the cruise to other travelers we know and meet on the road. Thanks again for all you do with the podcast.”

And, Mike, double thanks, one, thanks for getting back to me and, two, also thanks for giving me that feedback about Holland America. And you bet that the next email I sent was to the person who sent me on that cruise. But it was a fun cruise. I agree with you. And I still think that it’s a great thing that after you’ve done that cruise that you wanna do to Alaska, it’s a similar cruise with glaciers. But then you’re also in South America. So you get interesting things like Buenos Aires and Valparaiso, which are both interesting cities.

With that, we’re gonna end this episode of the Amateur Traveler. If you have any questions, send an email to host at or, better yet, leave a comment on this episode at You can follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram as chris2x. And as always, thanks so much for listening.

Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

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