We caught a 9am taxi across the river to Montparnasse railway station and arrived over an hour before our departure time, which gave us time to grab some breakfast from the patisserie near our waiting room. The train was fantastic. Comfy seats, wifi, USB ports and more. As it was a high speed train it only took us a couple of hours to get to Bordeaux, but travelling in comfort like this is something I could get used to. And no one even came to check our tickets.

We’re staying in an apartment in a very old building near the cathedral. We were met by Mathilde, who handed us the keys and led us down a dark sandstone corridor, then up three winding flights of narrow stone stairs to the apartment. We have our living space on the first floor, then a spiral staircase up to the bedroom and bathroom. It’s too narrow to get the suitcases up those stairs, and I certainly didn’t feel like trying it after already carrying them up the three floors from street level. But it’s very cosy and the view from the bedroom window over the old roof tops to the cathedral is fantastic.

It’s a warm, sunny day here in Bordeaux and it feels good to wear a short sleeved shirt once more, as Paris had often been cool and windy, and sometimes even wet. Marg and I went out for a walk around the old part of Bordeaux. We walked a couple of hundred metres from our front door to the cathedral and the impressive tower that stands before it. I saw dates going back to around 1300 in the cathedral, which makes it a similar age to others we have seen in France, but parts of it looked as though they have seen better days. Like we have seen elsewhere, there were information boards detailing restoration plans, but they were all in French so I am unsure what is in store for this cathedral.

We walked down to the river, then along the path, passing many small cafes and boutique shops. People were sitting at tables in the sun enjoying a coffee or something stronger. We would love to do similar, but there are a remarkably high number of smokers in this country, and you can really only sit at the outdoor tables if you are happy to do so in a haze of cigarette and cigar smoke. Thankfully we found a cafe with no smokers near the old city gate, so we ordered an Aperol spritz and a four cheese salad and contemplated how good life can be when this is the way you choose to spend your days.

A little further along the river front we stopped to watch people splashing around in a watery public space, where water bubbled up through holes in the ground to a depth of only a few centimetres. Kids and adults alike were sloshing through it and making the most of cooling their feet on this hot, sunny day.

We wandered back to our lodgings through a large park and then a very busy shopping street, with trendy shops and, thankfully, no cars. We were really hot and tired by the time we got back, and after climbing up those three flights of narrow stairs we figured we might rest up for a few hours until it’s time to go out for dinner. We really liked what we saw of Bordeaux today. Unfortunately tomorrow is our only full day here, so I think I’ve left us with too little time to visit a winery, but we’re looking forward to visiting the wine museum tomorrow and maybe a glass or two of the local product.

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