Monday, September 05, 2011

To Bordeaux and Beyond – 23 August 2011

Even though the storm predicted by the camp receptionist was pretty much a non-event, the strong winds and grey threatening skies were enough to get us up promptly in the morning. This was probably a good thing, as the rest of the day fitted together nicely, with enough time for everything.

First up, we stopped by the remote walled medieval village of Brouage, once a thriving port, but as the sea receded and left it miles inland, it's prosperity declined. The village is built on heaps of ship's ballast thrown overboard over many years. This provided good foundations to build this maritime city.
The walls are still intact, and make a marvellous circular walk. Its regular grid of streets and neat and tidy original houses are still lived in and the whole place has a very monochromatic cream stone look.

From here we travelled south to Bordeaux. The old city is now a UNESCO site, and definitely worth a visit, with an 18th century heart, built along the river bank. But modern enhancements have improved it, in particular, the Place de la Bourse has a shallow flooded area, fed by small fountains in a cycle of off and on. This provides endless fun for children (and older), and great photo opportunities!

Bordeaux also provided us with the best ever ice-cream experience. A shop advertising it's wares with a picture of an ice-cream flower, attracted our business, on a very hot afternoon. The deal turned out to be that you paid for the size of cone you wanted and then could choose any number of ice-cream/gelato flavours, which after they were selected, were fashioned into a flower. Delicious and an art-work!

We dragged ourselves away from Bordeaux, before rush-hour traffic, and travelled west to Saint-Emilion. This wonderful town is situated in the heart of Bordeaux wine country. The drive there passed some chateaux, for which the area is famous. Saint-Emilion is a stunning little town. There is nothing particular to do there, apart from purchase bottles of Bordeaux as every second business seemed to be selling the local output. However, we climbed a tower to admire the town, before walking the town and of course buying a bottle of famous Bordeaux for a picnic tea.

This proved to be a good idea, because we next purchased bread, cheese, ham etc to make up our picnic, and set off for a camp ground in the next town. This seemed pretty straightforward, but after cruising the town twice and following signs that lead to nothing, we resorted to the GPS to find us a campground. Following this method was even more alarming, as we got onto more remote and narrow roads, and wondered if there would even be a campground at the end.

Finally we reached the spot and discovered the campsite did exist, and what's more, it was right beside the Dordogne. Our picnic tea provisions were then critical, as there was no nearby town to eat in, and we had the perfect setting for a picnic; sitting in the sunshine on the riverbank. A little church beside us kept reminding is of the time, as we sat below a chateaux and enjoyed the last of the sunlight; a perfect end to a wonderful day.

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