I’m down in Bordeaux this weekend. Since Caiti will be in the frozen wastes of Canada rather than the mild, mosquitoey flatlands of Aquitaine next academic year, this is my only chance to see the Christmas lights and market of Bordeaux. Lovely as they are, Boussac’s Christmas moustaches are on a rather small scale and I fancied seeing something grander and more festive.
And I haven’t been disappointed. Yesterday evening we went to the Marché de Noël on Allée Tourny, near the Grande Thèatre. This was buzzing with activity and is packed full of stalls in mini wooden chalets, all very Christmassy. Even Santa was there.
The items being sold varied from cheap tat to very expensive handmade stuff, with plenty in between. There was vin chaud on offer every few steps, and lots of Christmas beer. There was, aptly for Caits, a Canadian stall with maple-syrup-flavoured everything, and a lot of regional stalls too. Bordelaise cannelles (caramelly cakes) and macarons are in ample supply, as are jars of duck and lampreys. Lamproies are another local specialty, but one I don’t find remotely tempting, I have to say! And there are several santons (Christmas figures for creches) stalls.
I took a photo of the floating halos as were waiting for our tram home. My camera isn’t always great at night, but it did well.
We were back today for some daylight photos and a spot of Christmas shopping. Some Christmas birds had arrived. Last year, there was a crèche with donkeys, sheep and a calf, but that wasn’t up and running yet. (And possibly it really will be running if the animals start acting up!)
There’s a forest of Christmas trees for sale, €52 each I noticed. That seems pricey but maybe it’s the going rate. We haven’t bought a real tree for Christmas for a long while. Here’s a pic that I took last night of Caiti amongst the trees.
We called into Mollat’s, France’s biggest indie bookshop, which is a wonderful place to browse in. There’s a fairly large English book section. And another good port of call was the Comptoir Irlandais (Irish Counter), a small shop selling Irish and English goodies. Things like Jameson’s whiskey and Horlicks and Bewley’s tea. A real little gem.
Our afternoon excursion was to the patinoire (ice rink). I enjoy ice-skating and Caiti does too. Or at least we did. There was a long wait to get in for no obvious reason, and then we both fell over at various points, something I don’t think either of us has ever done before. Pfft. Mind you, the ice was incredibly rough. I’m guessing there’d been ice hockey practice earlier as it was full of ruts and grooves. Even at Guéret’s ice village when we had it a few years ago, they kept that ice smoothed with regular patrols by the special machine whose name I can’t remember. Anyway, it was still fun and very cheap. But I shall have very purple, very stiff knees tomorrow, that’s for sure! And we didn’t have to walk home afterwards. On our way in, there had been a message on the noticeboards that announce when the next tram is coming saying that from 14:30 onwards there might be perturbations (disturbances to the service) due to a manif (demonstration). We did see about a dozen dudes with placards walking along a bus lane with police breathing down their necks, so that was possibly it. It had long disappeared when we emerged bruised and battered from the ice rink.
We called in at Catering to finish our day, a small shop which Caiti had discovered on the internet serves bagels and cupcakes. We ordered a bagel each to go, and having seen the humungous size of them, there was no way we could manage cupcakes too. As it is we’ve only eaten half a bagel each.
So it’s been a fun, Christmassy day exploring some interesting attractions of Bordeaux.
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