Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey may be gone, by the Millhoff-Rock troupe carries the tradition on. Our comical cast of characters rolls with the spectacle and efficiency of a circus. This transition Sunday it’s early up, clean and secure HomeExchange flat for departure, eat, out, rental-car drop-off, taxi into France, breakfast, board TGV, homework and blog en route, disembark Bordeaux, bag drop at new rental car, power-tour Bordeaux, back to rental car, drive to St. Emilion. Boom. Done.
3 hours into France and I already miss Spain. We are still in Basque country and there’s no passport or customs check to mark the French border, yet the changes are palpable. French Architecture is immediately ambitious – even little Hendaye hints at Bordeaux’s boastful baroque and beaux arts-itechture. The French countryside opens and flattens to lush green fields and as we approach the fabled vineyards. The wine and bread are better, but the demeanor’s meaner.
Navigating the smoke, smells, and dog droppings, we find our Hendaye TGV train as smelly inside as out, so bide time on the platform. Once rolling some fresh air flows, so we can focus on the pretty countryside to Gare de Bordeaux St-Jean. After dropping bags in our rental car we avoid parking logistics and taxi north to the grand sites past kids walking on water in the Place de la Bourse’s playful mirror pond. First stop: crepe fuel. Then we stroll through the heat wave to take in the baroque Opera House. The stone plazas are exposed and hot, so further north we find relief wallowing in the mist spit from the Girondins monument magnificent marine mares as they trample Ignorance, Lie and
Vice. Reversing course through the old town we soothe our own beasts with gelato, then wander for water. Most shops are closed on Sunday, but eventually we find some on the margin of the cleaned up Tourist district. Upon leaving we stumble into some of Bordeaux’s formerly famous grit – a gaggle of drunks are fighting over shade. Admonished for leading my family astray we take a safe but boring path back to the rental car. Sometimes the road is less traveled for a reason.
With my Garmin, the car’s GPS and Max all working the navigation it’s a relatively easy drive through thick traffic out of Bordeaux and into the quaint wine town of St. Emilion – an oenophilian orgy between our Spain and Alps tours. A nasty sinus infection will steal that experience for me, but it’s a pretty little place to relax and recover, and Sue will revel in the food and wine… if not the service. We’ve booked a cute apartment in the center of town, so have great walking access and can easily avoid the day-trippers.
We arrive early evening to find the town and our apartment delightful: clean and bright, looking good at 1.5 millenia. Still sick, I find a short stroll through town exhausting so Ben keeps me company and I rest… Max and Sue enjoy dinner out. After a monday morning pharmacy stop I take the day off to rest while Sue and the boys expand their explorations… I wasn’t witness to their adventures but Sue’s camera was:
By evening I’m feeling well enough to go out, but the staff at our chosen restaurant is so deliberately rude that we choose to dine in – what a shame. Tuesday we have time for a stroll outside the town’s walls before the clouds burst and we wade our way west to the Bordeaux airport. EasyJet is a pleasure compared to Ryanair, and a timely, uneventful flight carries us across france to Basel-Mulhouse airport where we begin a new adventure… a motorhome tour of the Alps.