Bordeaux: a City Named Desire
We spent four days in Bordeaux, southwestern France where we were graciously hosted by Yves Foubert. Yves, a friend I have known in Ethiopia, left his well-located and cozy flat for us. He also arranged for us to visit the beautiful wine village in the rolling clay-limestone hills around Saint Emillion and le Cap Ferret (Bassin d’Arcachon), which is open to the Atlantic Ocean by ‘passes’ or channels.
Bordeaux itself is a beautiful city – full of interesting architecture, history and pretty clean for a city. The city has an effective tram system which makes it extremely pedestrian friendly. As it sits right on the Garonne River, there is a beautiful walkway along the city’s edge and river, complete with a fun reflecting pool. We had a blast walking around the city and investigating all the fun nooks and crannies. We walked around the smart shopping streets, with buildings of grandiose 18th-century architecture.
The skaters tend to hang out here to practice whatever it is they do.
This is Europe’s largest lift bridge, with the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas spanning the River Garonne. The central lift span is 117m long and can be lifted vertically up to 53m to let tall ships pass underneath. This innovative bridge will represent one of the most important new architectural elements within the renowned UNESCO city.
…at the start of the Rue Sainte Catherine, longest shopping street in Europe.
We were also pleasantly surprised to learn that there are two Ethiopian restaurants in Bordeaux owned by the same couple. Yemane Tadesse (pictured below) and his wife Mesekerem own two restaurants called L’Abyssinia and Adey Abeba in the heart of the city.Electronics engineer, Tadesse lived in Russia before coming to France in 1992. He took different jobs before deciding to open his first restaurant with his wife, Mesekerem. A few Years later, the second one, looking for a better venue. He told us that the Ethiopians living in Bordeaux are not more than twenty and his clients are more French and other international visitors than his compatriots.
The next morning we were off to Saint-Emilion. The village is full of underground churches and catacombs that have been carved out of the limestone rock. This underground area has developed over the centuries underneath the village, culminating in the massive monolithic cathedral, started by an order of monks in the 8th century.
We also visited Cap Ferret, the giant sand bank south west of Bordeaux that straddles the Atlantic and an inland lagoon which nurtures some of Europe’s greatest oyster beds. To the east is a lovely bay, Bassin d’Arcachon, all glittering blue water and antique yachts.