Bordeaux… Each Trip, Better Than The Last

I detailed my last trip to Bordeaux so I am not going to spend too much time going into a lot of detail here. The trip was really interesting and it was a lot of family time and a lot of time spent learning more details about my grandfather (www.morhangenetwork.com) and the people who helped him during WWII. This trip was unique, though, in that it was with much of my family. My sister and brother in law, my mother and father, 2 of my cousins and my aunt all joined me on the journey and, seeing as it was there first time meeting all these great french individuals, it was quite special to be able to share that all with them.

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A bunch of these photos are from my sister as I just didn’t carry my camera around all the much. So photo cred to Rachel Meyerowitz.

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I flew iberia from JFK to Madrid and Madrid to Bordeaux. I haven’t been doing flight reports unless something interesting happens. Nothing did. Other than having an entire 5 seat row to myself for the JFK-MAD portion making sleep a pleasure, there isn’t much else to report.

I met my family in Bordeaux on monday after they all spent the weekend together in Paris. I had a wedding that weekend and have already visited Paris, so I figured it would be alright to skip out on the first leg of the trip. We met at the airport, picked up a couple of rental cars from enterprise and proceeded to the 8 person, 5 bedroom/2 bath, airbnb that I had booked for us. I had reserve 1 manual and 1 automatic, but the rep decided to give me 2 autos for the same price. Great!

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The airbnb was really cool. Unique and  hip and very close to the center of town. I would certainly recommend it to large groups visiting the area. Just shoot me a message for details.

Our plan was to spend 7 nights in Bordeaux. We all got into bordeaux pretty late on monday so after a meal out on the town, we retired back to the house. We had lunch the second day in Floirac, where one of the amazing French families live. Patrick, the son of one of our heroins (?), has a beautiful home and hosted us for lunch. We spent hours just stuffing our faces with food and wine and listening to stories about patrick’s mother, Gisele. What an amazing time.

part of patricks house in Floiracbordeaux-rachel-6seeing claudine (patrick’s wife) for the first time in 8 monthsbordeaux-rachel-5 bordeaux-rachel-7 bordeaux-rachel-8 bordeaux-rachel-12

our WONDERFUL hostess, Claudine.bordeaux-rachel-9We drank more wine this week than we knew what to do with… well, i guess we did know what to do with it.bordeaux-rachel-11 Silly facesbordeaux-rachel-13Some of the grand (and 1 great grand) kids of Gisele and Arthurbordeaux-rachel-14Gifts we gave to our hostsbordeaux-rachel-15

Tuesday night I had us booked for dinner with another wonderful couple I know who live just north of bordeaux. We met them about 35 minutes outside of town and a restaurant local to them. We proceeded, again, to stuff our faces (this would be a prevailing theme throughout the week). We had, by far, the BEST pork dish I’ve ever had. It was some kind of slow roasted AWESOMENESS that I will not soon forget.

Some delicious chocolate cake and creme bordeaux-rachel-21 The most incredible pork, EVER bordeaux-rachel-20

The whole group with Susan and Danielbordeaux-rachel-22IMy cousin Ilana tried a lot of crazy foods while in france, THIS was not one of them. Langostines…

bordeaux-rachel-19Sad face zucchini

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We had a wine tour set up for the next day. We were up nice and early to drive up to Saint Julien and Margeaux wine regions for the tours. We toured through Chateau Beychevelle and Chateau Palmer. We had some pretty incredible access and, while the host at our first stop wasn’t nearly as friendly as the second, we had a great time. This was my second time touring the wineries in Bordeaux and it is really interesting to see how each one does their thing just a little differently then the rest. We tasted some wines that were ‘ready to drink’ and others that still had a few more years to age. The chateaus themselves are beautiful and it was well worth the drive out. If you ever have the opportunity to find yourself in the wine regions in the south of france, you MUST do a tour of at least 2 or 3 chateaus.

chateau beychevelle

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wine tasting at chateau palmer

bordeaux-rachel-25chateau beychevelle barrol room bordeaux-beychevelle-barrels-widechateau beychevelle barrol roombordeaux-beychevelle-barrels-thru-oculuschateau beychevelle (courtesy of bro in law, william’s, glasses)bordeaux-beychevelle-will-glassesa cool window at chateau palmerbordeaux-palmer-port-hole-window

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Thursday was a long day. We drove about 3 hours to the city of Toulouse (in the south east of the country) for a day of meetings at the Resistance Museum. We learned a TON of information about a place where my grandfather spent 3+ months of his time while he was MIA in occupied france. This was certainly a highlight of the trip for me and made this “research trip” seem worth it. I promised my sister that if she drove home I would be a good navigator and not fall asleep in the front seat. That lasted for all of about 5 minutes and it was lights out. Sorry, Rachel!

Some street art spotted by Rachel in Toulousebordeaux-rachel-28With the curator/director of the Resistance Museum in Toulousebordeaux-rachel-29

Me, my cousin, sister and bro in law, met some of our hosts out for drinks thursday night. Bordeaux at night is a beautiful scene. The small, winding streets are all a live with restaurants and bars and plenty of people watching to keep you satisfied. The lights and lamps all throughout the town add a unique charm to the city.

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Friday was a bit impromptu. We decided, somewhat last minute, to drive to Lespare. This is one of the first places my grandfather was able to spend a night with resistance members and set him up for his entire journey. Gisele (the resistance chief arthur stayed with that night) had 5 wonderful children all of which we have had the pleasure of meeting while in France. Gisele was a pharmacist and a total BADASS. You’ll get the full rundown of the kind of lady she was in my book when it comes out next november, but lets just say she was a true hero! Her pharmacy still stands today, albeit under different ownership, but we were allowed access to the whole pharmacy and the house/apartments upstairs. We were able to see the room that my grandfather stayed in and the second story room/window that Gisele’s husband, Pierre, jumped out of to escape the Gestapo when they came knocking. I had already made this trip back in 2012, but it was great to share it with the family.

patrick’s father jumped out this window. bordeaux-rachel-32the room arthur stayed in 70 years ago. bordeaux-rachel-33The pharmacy where gisele and her family lived and where patrick got his fake id’s and initial “training”bordeaux-rachel-34

One other quick highlight I wanted to mention was our trip to the Maquis (resistance hideout) which is located just outside the town of Laird, a little while from Lespare. This spot, deep in the woods, is where the resistance fighters would hide out when the “heat was on” in the towns and villages that they lived in. The structure is really beat up but it was incredible to see it and imagine what it must have been like to stay there. Additionally, there were inscriptions on the interior wall with the sign of the free french movement (a “V” with a 3 piece cross inside it) and also a “vive DeGaulle” carving. It was quite moving.

 

the “road” into the maquis in Lairdbordeaux-rachel-36 bordeaux-rachel-37 bordeaux-rachel-38

I did a bit of damage to my rental car driving into the woods. That little car was not meant to do the kind of off-roading we were doing and I was NOT taking it easy on it at all. I ended up ripping up some of the bottom of the car which lead to a $1000+ bill from enterprise upon the return of the car. I am covered by amex so I’m not all that concerned about it. I already called them and told them to keep an eye out for the charge and they are handling it. THAT’s why I have the coverage. So, no worries.

Saturday was a wash for us. We hit the mall because it was raining (my least favorite place in the WORLD). We made dinner at home saturday night.

Sunday was another lunch with Patrick and his family (nearly his ENTIRE family this time). Another 5 hours of lunch and conversations and wine and cheese and more. It was only my immediate family left at this point. So the 5 of us went out for one last dinner at Le Petit Commerce in Bordeaux Central by Place du Parlement. Cool spot but the service was really pretty terrible. Perhaps it was because we were seated in their “satellite” location about 20 yards from their main spot or perhaps the waitresses were just shit. Either way, the food took forever to get to us, but, once it did, was quite good.

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Not much else to say about Bordeaux. Here are some other pics from the trip.

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