Eating Abroad France Travel Talk

Bordeaux – A Day of Dining

September 1, 2016

Long before I acquired a certain someone as my regular dining and travel buddy, I had some other partners in crime. Throughout my high school and university days, I was mostly a single lady and I did what other footloose and fancy free ladies did… hit the town with my girls! Back then, the travel destinations were not as extensive or exotic but there were still plenty of road trips, beach holidays, shopping days, and always lots of eating and drinking along the way. We laughed, we cried, we did things we would never ever do now… but it was always fun.

I still see many of these ladies regularly (by London standards anyway)… a few I have known since the tender age of 11, some since university, and others I’ve met more recently; but all I’m happy to call my friends. As everyone’s work lives and social schedules get busier and busier, it gets harder and harder to fit in quality girl time so I was super excited when a group of us booked in a weekend away to Bordeaux; no boys allowed, this was a girls only weekend!

The ‘party all night’ days may well be over but they’ve been happily replaced by excellent food and fine wine… In order to celebrate our evolution, I thought I’d pull a (Taylor) Swifty and share with you a day in the dining life of me and my own #girlsquad…

Breakfast – Black List Cafe

We started the day at this tiny cafe which came highly recommended – the main lure being the prospect of a proper Antipodean style flat white. Though I’m not a coffee drinker, the majority of our Kiwi contingent are and the girls were positively giddy at the chance to have a proper coffee… my hot chocolate was quite lovely too, in case you were wondering. As for the food, that also had a slight Antipodean influence to it – homemade granola, avocado and egg on toast, or even berries and ricotta on toast – but served with both a hot and cold drink as the French like to do.

I don’t usually eat breakfast and when I do, I don’t usually order avocado on toast but just this one time, I must admit I am glad I broke with traditional – simple, fresh and quite delicious with the unusual addition of passionfruit. There are also a great selection of cakes and pastries if you feel like something sweet with your coffee; I was certainly tempted to bundle up a slice of something for the road…


Lunch – Mama Shelter Rooftop

After taking in some of the sights, we decided to split up for the afternoon – some of us wanted to shop, some wanted a sweet treat, and some of us wanted a glass of wine and something to nibble on… no prizes for guessing which option I went for! With two of my closest friends in tow, we made a beeline for the rooftop restaurant and bar at Mama Shelter, a French boutique hotel chain which is fast expanding across US and Europe. Without a doubt, this place is trendy and fun – there’s a restaurant downstairs too but the rooftop is where you want to be when the sun is shining!

We nabbed a sunny table and ordered a bottle of Bordeaux white, a charcuterie board and some fries – that was us set for the next few hours. The buzzy atmosphere and great views of the city provided the best backdrop for an afternoon filled with gossip and giggles – I’ve known these girls for close to 18 years, they are my nearest and dearest, and in that afternoon, I easily imagined us doing the exact same thing in another 18 years!


Afternoon Snack – Canelés

With only a light lunch, a pre-dinner-pick-me-up in the form of a canelé was required. When I tried my first one years ago at Bordeaux Bakery in Wellington, I never imagined that one day I would be eating a canelé in the city itself. I love the contrast between the crusty caramelised outer and soft custardy inner, and the rich vanilla flavour – I think it’s one of the most luxurious French pastries. They city’s most famous canelé shop is Baillardran; they have outlets all over town and sell a wide range of flavours and toppings, however a good canelé is pretty easily found in any of the many bakeries across the city!

Dinner – Le Bouchon Bordelais

For our final hurrah in Bordeaux, we wanted something that felt quintessentially French but wasn’t gimmicky. I think Le Bouchon Bordelais fit the bill perfectly – I loved the welcoming, rustic dining room and the seasonal French menu. The day’s menu depends on what’s looking good at the market, though I know they have some firm favourites that are available all the time. Most of us opted for all three courses but you could pop in just for a main, or a main with a starter or dessert – there’s no pressure at all from any of the friendly team.

Across our table we enjoyed a range of dishes from ceviche or burrata for starters, to beautifully prepared hake and steak for mains. I couldn’t fault either of my choices; it was the first time I had escargot in anything other than garlic butter and I must say, snails in a tomato fricasee style sauce are delicious. My pigeon dish was perfectly cooked, still blushing and tender and I even enjoyed the pairing with aubergine, despite it being a vegetable I usually detest. All the desserts were also a hit and by the end of the night, we were well sated and happy – this is a fantastic bistro for fresh and affordable food!

So Make A Move…

When we weren’t eating, we went on a fantastic Bordeaux wine tour (which I’ll tell you all about soon), did a spot of shopping along Rue Sainte-Catherine, wandered the pretty streets, and marvelled at the gorgeous Miroir d’Eau! If we had more time, we might have also checked out La Cité du Vin, the city’s brand new wine museum. The city is really compact and walkable so there’s really no excuse not to visit…

Spending the weekend enjoying gloriously good food and wine with my gal pals made my visit to Bordeaux quite memorable – share your memorable foodie moments for this month’s Travel Linkup over on  EmmaAngieJessi, and Tanja’s blogs!

And another thing… I was recently challenged by Travelex UK to find #LuxuryForLess in Sofia with a budget of £200 – I think I did a great job and would really appreciate a vote in their #Traveluxury24 Competition – I’m up against two other fantastic bloggers so every vote counts! Thanks!

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  • All these blog posts on Bordeaux are making me really want to go!!

    • I can’t believe you haven’t been yet Angie… all of our posts are a sign!

  • I’d love to try canelé!

    • I think you’d love it especially as I now know you’re a huge dessert fan!

  • Hehe, I wrote about pigeon too, but it wasn’t fine dining pigeon. Fine dining pigeon is a totally different pigeon 😉 Also, those caneles look amazing!

    • Fine dining pigeon who is about to get in my gob is the ONLY pigeon I will tolerate. The rest of them flying rodents can get lost hahaha

  • MissLilly

    I have to admit Bordeaux was one of the best places I’ve ever been food-wise as well!!!! And also, I found the caneles better looking than tasteful!

    • The food is fantastic isn’t it – the quality of the produce is really good I think! Oh no, can’t believe you’re not a canele fan!

  • Isn’t Bordeaux just fab? I went in April with some girlfriends (and on a killer wine tour too!) and loved it. I have to say, I was not a canele fan though :/ PS voted!

    • I read your Bordeaux posts before we went to get me into the spirit of things – we got slightly better weather than you haha! Ps – thanks for voting!!!

  • Your post has really brought back incredible memories. I lived in Bordeaux for a year as part of my Uni degree and literally had the best year of my life! Canelés are amazing, love the Bouchon Bordelais and the wine oh the wine. Such a beautiful city – you should definitely give the Bordeaux wine festival a go…it happens every June normally the last weekend of the month

    • Thanks for the tip, we’re going back at the end of May for a wedding… wonder if we can stretch it longer to include the wine festival if it’s at the start of June! I’m so jealous that you got to spend a whole glorious year in Bordeaux, it’s such a beautiful and accessible city!

  • THIS HAS MADE ME SO HUNGRY!!! And also has made me want to get on the next flight to Bordeaux! I look forward to reading about the wine tour!

    • Get booking!!! It’s a lovely city just to wander and eat and drink wine of course… I’m so excited to be going back next year for one of the girls’ wedding!!!

  • This all looks and sounds so delicious – get me to Bordeaux, stat. The wine tour also sounds like my kinda thing too!

    Milly //

    • A wine tour is a must-do in Bordeaux, but if you’re short on time a food and wine crawl across the city is just as good!

  • Passion fruit on avocado/toast?! That’s a new one and definitely one I’m intrigued to try! And don’t even get me started on those caneles – I’ve not been to Bordeaux yet but Fortnums do some fantastic ones in case you want to get your fix here too!

    • I know… that was super weird but actually worked! I think the sweetness was a nice contrast to the creamy avo. I knew you’d be a fellow fan… your sweet tooth reputation is strong!

  • Bordeaux is on my list for the spring so what great timing to read this!

    • A must-visit for sure! We’re going back next May for the wedding of one of the girls… beyond excited to head back with the boyfriend!

  • Jaklien van Melick

    I went to Mama Shelter in Lyon. They do do great food, don’t they?

    • I think it’s great quality and great value – coupled with the fun atmosphere, it’s a really great place to eat and relax!

  • This is #girlsquadgoals right here!

  • Haha any girl who prefer food over shopping can be in my squad!
    I’ve been meaning to go to Bordeaux and can’t wait to try some of the caneles. They have a great selection at the Harrod’s food hall, btw! =)

    Honey x The Girl Next Shore

    • Hahaha absolutely – gotta know where their priorities lie! Ohh yes, I’ve seen them… must pick some up next time!

  • Laura @Me & Mr Jones

    I’ve never really been much of a fan of French food but Canelés?! I think I might need some of these!!!

    Sounds like you had a great time and love that I’m not the only one who has replaced late night partying with food and wine (or cider…)!

    • You must try one Laura – they sell them at Selfridges and Harrods I think… bit pricey but I think they’re a lot of effort (and require a lot of eggs lol) to make so worth it!
      Oh those late nights are long, long gone! (Thank goodness!)

  • I LOVE Bordeaux so I really enjoyed this little culinary adventure. I
    think it’s great that you have such a great group of friends that you’ve
    known for so long and you still make the effort to go away together –
    all too often life (and other halves!) take over and it’s difficult to
    find the time as you get older. Definitely think food is much better
    when shared with people you really care about 🙂 Looking forward to the
    wine tour post! We did one in Bordeaux a couple of years ago so
    intrigued to see how it compares.

    Polly xx

    • Thank you! Absolutely agree, our other halves become our main travel companions but sometimes you just need to escape with the girls and pretend you’re 17 again and gossiping about the boys haha. I’m really lucky to have those girls with me here in London at the moment too!

  • Wow those meals looks amazing!!! Can I be transported to Bordeaux for some of that???

    • Thanks Ngaire – the restaurant scene in Bordeaux seems to have had a resurgence of late, well worth being transported to for!

  • Mmmm, so delicious! I love a good girly weekend away and it certainly looks like you nailed the food choices 🙂

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