Bordeaux has an excellent tram network (inaugurated in 2003, 45 years after the previous tram network was shortsightedly abandoned, as in so many places) which the Dagg family is making good use of. Caiti has her annual pass so she can hop on and off trams every day to and from uni or town, and I got a day pass today for €4.30. Caiti had lectures and practicals for most of today so I was off on my own, exploring the big city. It’s my second, and last, full day here so I had to make the most of it.

This fountain was full of soap bubbles when I first saw it!

For the first hour I tram hopped and trudged various streets of Bordeaux since we’d left Caiti’s flat just after 7.30am so nothing much was open yet. Eventually things came to life. After a few more sightseeing tram trips I alighted at Meriadeck which is a large shopping mall. I got some bits and pieces for Caiti and then finally plucked up the courage to go to a café for a second breakfast. I ordered a petit crème and a pain aux raisins but the lad serving, after careful consideration, told me it would be cheaper if I got a grand crème with my viennoiserie since that was a special breakfast promotion. So I had the bigger, cheaper cup of coffee and left half of it. If I hadn’t I’d have been a jittering wreck for the rest of the day. I can’t take too much caffeine at one time!

Revitalised, and reminded by Chris whom I’d been texting to make the most of being away from watering and feeding animals, rounding up turkeys, coaxing a recalcitrant younger son out of bed in time for school every morning etc etc, I got the bit between my teeth and took a tram in a new direction. I went along the river and up to Bassins à Flot as I’d read somewhere that there was a Second World War submarine-building basin there. However, within minutes of getting off the tram and turning the corner from the river front towards the docks, I quickly became aware this wasn’t one of those areas that you stroll merrily around on your own. Seedy doesn’t come close. So I hastily backtracked, took a photo of a bridge that’s being built and get the next tram back to civilisation.

I hopped off at Gambetta as I’d seen a large bookshop, Mollat, on the outward journey. This is France’s largest independent bookstore. It’s been a long while since I’ve been in a bookshop. And you all know I’m a Kindle addict, but I have to say I did rather enjoy browsing at deadtree books, even though the prices made me wince. France doesn’t do cheap books as a rule. Anyway, I found a fascinating book, Bordeaux by Tram by Marion le Treut (despite the title, it’s in French) which tells you what interesting things are to be seen at each tram stop on the three lines (soon to be four when Ligne D comes into being in a couple of years’ time). So armed with my guide, I kept my eyes open at each tram stop. I spotted Notre Dame de Talence at Roustaing. It was built on the spot where a vision of Mary holding her son occurred in the 12th century. The present building was built in the 1840s.

I also knew to look out for the giant bronze tortoise at Forum.

Ivan Theimer's tortoises are eating grapes to signify Bordeaux's wine connection

It’s a goldmine of information, this book, which I’ll leave with Caiti so she can follow the history trail too. However, I’ll be wanting it back next time I come to visit.

Caiti and I regrouped at her flat at dinnertime. She was very late as there’d been a breakdown or accident or something and there were no trams for 20 minutes, just as she came out of class, so she decided to walk the few kilometres home instead. And she’s a bit under the weather and it was boiling hot. What a trooper! She had another class in the afternoon so off I went again, my faithful tram ticket and tram stop book in hand.

I wandered around Peixotto Parc again (Caiti took me there Sunday evening) and took photos this time. Thanks to Marion, I know now the history of the place. Eccentric Portuguese banker Samuel Peixotto built the small chateau in 1769 with its gardens reminiscent of Versailles, although on a smaller scale. Caits has mentioned the park too on her blog

The chateau is now the Mairie for Talence and the gardens are a public park, but also serve as a botanical gardens for the University. I was amazed to see fruit and veg growing there, unvandalised. Good for the Bordelais.

Action shot of me taking the photo as well as the pumpkin!

There’s a pond,

statues and walkways, and interesting plants.

It’s a super spot.

I rode around a bit more and then finished up by doing some more bits of shopping for Caiti before waiting for her at the tram stop by her flats and we walked up together. We’ve been having a bit of quiet time (Caiti’s asleep so very quiet!) and if she’s up to it, we’ll head off on the tram again to find some tea, most likely of the fast food variety. But even if we don’t, it won’t matter. We’re well stocked up here. Caits has her birthday microwave and I’ve probably done enough sightseeing to last me for a long time. Back to normality and Creuse tomorrow.

Holidays are fun!