La Bastide, Bordeaux: the old and the new

La Bastide, Bordeaux’s Right Bank

Challenging decisions await travelers exploring a city for the first time: To visit landmarks, or not to visit landmarks, that is the question. Embracing crowds near said-landmarks, or exploring the roads less traveled to make one’s own path, is another question. To really capture a city’s essence, one must do both. In Bordeaux, France, most visitors (and many locals) spend time on the Left Bank. That is where landmarks are, and in that sense, Bordeaux delivers. This is not to say there are no pleasant surprises, or new discoveries on that side of the Garonne river. Les Chartrons neighborhood, for example, will delight the most discriminating visitor. Still, while standing on the Left Bank at the newest museum in town, la Cité du Vin, during a recent visit, I could not help but stare at the other side of the river, across the massive Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge. Little did I know one of the most dynamic and most original parts of town, la Bastide, stood on the Right Bank.

Finding France is what I do; finding France is what I enjoy, wherever I happen to be. In France, even in touristy areas like Paris or Nice, I look for my France, and I find her if I am lucky: I remember feelings or experiences I once knew before relocating to the United States so…

Bordeaux is always a good idea. Audrey Hepburn would have certainly said so in that famous movie, had she visited the current version of what was once an elegant but austere French city in need of an overhaul. Paris got her remodel in the second half of the 19th century thanks to Napoleon III and…

French Girl in Seattle: The beginnings Happy Birthday, French Girl in Seattle! You have just turned 7. You were born in Paris, during a very cold winter when snow fell – and stuck – in the French capital’s streets, making sightseeing challenging and time spent indoors irresistible. You started as a blog meant to help…

My French family has been the main reason for my annual trips home over the last two decades. France has been the other one. Most trips take me back to Paris, because my parents, my brother and his family all live there. I may surprise some “Parisophiles” when I say I relish the {too rare}…

In the heart of Paris’s trendy 10th arrondissement lies the peaceful and atmospheric Canal Saint Martin. Unlike some of the eateries, cafés and boutiques in the neighborhood, the canal has been there for a very long time. In the early 19th century, Napoleon I, who was as much a skilled administrator as he was a military…

Argenton-sur-Creuse, nicknamed “la Venise du Berry,” (the Venice of the Berry,) is a small town located in the center of France. For many travelers, zooming up and down the busy Autoroute (freeway) A20, linking Paris to southwestern France, Argenton-sur-Creuse may remain a pretty name on the map. Châteauroux, the second largest town in the Berry, is located only…

Every year, in France’s Provence, locals celebrate the Holidays with the traditional “12 desserts,” a selection of dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruit, cakes and sweet little nothings, an age-long Christian tradition (the 12 desserts symbolizing Jesus’s apostles.) These desserts are best enjoyed during le Réveillon de Noël, (Christmas Eve,) at the end of a copious…

There are special places one always returns to with anticipation and sheer delight. As a longtime expat, I welcome the chance to travel around France and escape Paris, where I tend to spend a lot of time because my parents live in the French capital. Yet Paris, like all French natives know (except Parisians?) is not…