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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