Two weeks ago, as we sat over lunch in a bistro in Montpellier, Lyanne asked me which city in France is my favorite.
Though the list of contenders is rather long—Aix-en-Provence, Auch, Avignon, Carcassonne, Cherbourg, Chartres, Marseille, Montpellier, Mont Saint Michel, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Rouen, Saint Malo, Sarlat, Toulouse, Tours, Vannes (to name a few)—I barely hesitated before giving my answer.
I first visited the city over a long weekend during my semester abroad in Nantes.
After two days I had fallen in love with Southwestern France. It was the first time I felt the characteristic warmth that I’ve since found in other southern cities. It’s present in their very architecture—in the rich burnt sienna of a tiled roof and in the luminous glow of cream-colored buildings in the fading light of a late afternoon.
Bordeaux made such an impression that a year later, when completing my TAPIF application, the three regions I preferenced were all southwestern and all adjacent: Toulouse, Bordeaux and Limoges.
And while I’m ridiculously content with Auch and the decision to put Toulouse as my first-choice region that led me here, Bordeaux’s stayed rooted in the back of my mind.
So when Ashley proposed a weekend trip before Christmas break, I had no trouble suggesting a destination.
Forty euros and a bus and train ride later, I stepped into a drizzly bordelais evening and my love for the city was instantly reaffirmed.
As France’s ninth-largest city, Bordeaux is charming, lively and navigable. And something about it reminds me of the Pacific Northwest. (Maybe it was the Carhartt boutique in the super granola quarter we stumbled upon on Sunday…)
It’s also chock-full of history and culture. I got to go to the world premier of the Lascaux 3 exhibit. (And for all you super dorks out there, check out this virtual tour of Lascaux in French or English.)
And its cathedral is still my favorite of all the ones I’ve visited (and I make a point of always hitting up a city’s cathedral).
But my love affair with Bordeaux runs deeper than museums, old buildings and stirrings of nostalgic homesickness.
It’s rooted in an intangible combination of emotions, an abstract state of mind and being that can’t successfully be translated into something as rigid and concrete as language. It’s similar to the feeling I get when I read poetry by Keats and Baudelaire, when I eat the perfect summer peach, when I feel the warmth of dappled sunlight. It’s a lightness in my step, a pensive gleam in my eye, a contented sigh on my lips.
Bordeaux feels like it could be home.
Click here for more photos from Bordeaux.