In my early 20s, I spent a couple of years living in the south of France, between 1 and two hours east of Bordeaux in a tiny hamlet called Grand Castang. The nearest town that people may know is called Bergerac, which is where I flew from and to, to get between there and Liverpool.
I played football out there, making some friends who I’m still in touch with, and this is what brought the trip to Bordeaux. One of my old team-mates Graham moved to Bordeaux and invited me to come and spend some time with him. The only problem was that he would be working for most of my time there, so I’d need to keep myself entertained.
I woke up quite early as usual, I’m not a late sleeper, and really needed a cup of tea. Graham has spent most of his life in France and drinks coffee rather than tea. Although, he did tell me he had a few teabags in the kitchen – true, but Earl Grey doesn’t count. So, I pinned my location on the maps on my phone and went for a walk towards the centre of Bordeaux, and spotted a Starbucks in the distance. Decent. I was exhausted as I’d not yet had any caffeine and I’m used to drinking amounts of tea that would shock most people.
My French is decent, I lived there for about two years and continued to improve after returning to England by taking online courses. I went into Starbucks, and as you can assume, it’s identical to Starbucks in England, with French words on the board behind them. I asked for a tea with milk, the huge one, and that’s what I got, a huge tea with milk. It was boiling so I just held it for a while as I was walking down the street. When it became cool enough to drink, I took a sip – excellent, Earl Grey, so that went right into the bin.
There was a coffee shop in sight again, so I went in, explained that I wanted a tea, not Earl Grey and started naming brands until the assistant recognised a brand she knew, Lipton, sound, I finally had a cup of tea and could get out of my mood. Don’t mess with English people and their tea.
I had hours to spend exploring Bordeaux, and as I’ve only ever been to Bordeaux to go to the Ikea and to fly from the airport, I had no idea what to do, or where to go, so I just walked. The shopping part of Bordeaux is actually really nice, and there’s a huge lego shop in the middle of what looks like a recently built area down a side street. The high street leads towards the river, which seems quite quiet for a big city so I took a walk up and down the riverside – Bordeaux translates into waters edge, or something similar like riverside if not directly translating.
I decided to walk inwards down some small streets to see what was going on, but it was a Monday morning, so not much was going on. As I meandered through the small alleys, I found a market at St. Michel’s Basilica, which is a lovely church as you can see in the photo. I felt really out of place at this market and I couldn’t pick out the language that the people were speaking, as it wasn’t French or English. After looking around a bit more, I realised they were speaking Arabic and not only was I not part of their culture, I’m really white, so it’s pretty obvious that I’m not from around there as it’s somewhere that you’d generally have a tan! I was getting a lot of people staring at me, so I decided to make a swift exit.
I started to get hungry so I headed back to the centre to look for a cafe, but I spotted a tiny sushi shop that sold takeaway boxes, so I grabbed a mixed sushi box and headed to a park called Jardin Public, and I sat there and ate my sushi in the sun.
After finishing my food I wandered around a bit more, then headed back to Grahams to chill out for a bit before heading out for the night. We went to a few pubs, grabbed some beers and then started to look for a club to go to. It turns out that in France, clubs don’t open until well after midnight, and by that time, we were all knackered to went home.
Bordeaux is a decent place, as is most of the French towns and cities that I’ve visited, which is quite a few. Although, I really didn’t like Grenoble and definitely don’t plan on going back there.
Whilst in Bordeaux, we decided to go to watch Les Girondins de Bordeaux versus Lorient. Lorient is over 500km away from Bordeaux, so they only brought about 1 coach-load of fans. The stadium was pretty empty, so we went to join the hardcode Bordeaux fans who do not stop chanting throughout the game. Check out the video below of the Bordelais chanting “nous sommes les bordelais ce soir on va chanter”, which translates into, We are the Bordelais, tonight we’re going to sing. This was the game where Diego Rolan came on as a sub and scored a brilliant over-head kick.