Last weekend a friend and I took a trip to the beautiful city of Bordeaux, it was just a little weekend to break up the bleak winter months of a new year and a few days to explore somewhere new and I tell you, we fell in love. With the city, that is, because of course we already love each other dearly. There is nothing greater than a friend who you can turn to at an moment in your life, for dinner, for help or a little weekend escape and Natalie is my perfect weekend companion.
We walked, we ate, we drank (coffee and wine only), and we cosied up in a dreamy French apartment. But as we did all these things, the environmental nerd in me is always on the lookout for sustainability, so here’s a little overview of my top spots:
FOOD & DRINK
This is France, so naturally there are bakeries everywhere, there are also restaurants that only sell steak and chips, there are also SO MANY independent shops for groceries, you can get the most delicious fresh fruit and veg across the whole city, but if you’re going to choose one then head to Charlotte et Clementine for tomatoes of every variety, extra large aubergines, carrots big and small, 5 types of peas and a big shelf of dried fruit and nuts to package up in little paper bags to your hearts content.
For the meat-eaters among you, if you want steak and special sauce then the Bistro Regent is your spot, a chain restaurant with a real French feel, this is the place you go for Friday night steak, the best frites you’ve ever had and the secret special sauce (that I’m sure is full of butter) that makes that steak so special.
The Saturday market is probably your best bet for sustainable food with lots of stalls from local artisanal producers and grocers, it also features the biggest stall in the centre which for both shopping and hopping on a bar stool at the counter to eat organic food.
French wine is divine, you can even catch me drinking a Rose there which is quite unheard of since the days of splashing out £4 on a bottle of Blossom Hill at university. If you’re unsure what to choose from the wine menu, a St-Emilion is a good bet not least because at the end of last year St-Emilion Wine Council announced that every bottle of wine from the 2019 vintage onwards will be produced using sustainable farming methods for growing their grapes.
PLACES TO SEE
Dotted all around the city are little ateliers de reparation – mending, tailoring and made to measure studios – which are all beautifully decorated with traditional tall French windows with painted shutters, inside you can see they run a busy trade which is so promising for the people of this city making loved clothes last.
Galerie Lafayette is like the Selfridges for women of Bordeaux, a department store of luxury brands for clothing, make up and accessories. In here, I was surprised to spot a couple of little nods to sustainability like their “so desirable, so chic” 100% sustainable shopping tote bags in lovely pastel colours.
Organic and natural grocery stores were also in abundance across the city selling organic and plastic-free fruit and veg, fresh baked bread and pastry and local agricultural produce.
THE CITY ITSELF
Like most cities in Europe Bordeaux has the “Boris bikes” which are super cheap to hire out for 24 hours and can take you all the way around the city with lots of pit stops and stations to return them anywhere. There are also multiple electric car charging and hiring points around the city as well as the main form of public transport being the tram which runs on electricity rather than diesel like the buses.
Now, here s something you really gotta see: the Darwin Ecosysteme. Since 2008 entrepreneurs in Bordeaux have been working on the renovation of the deserted warehouses in the former Niel Military Barracks, a part of Bordeaux’s historical heritage. Darwin Ecosysteme is an incubator for sustainable development through fun eco-friendliness to impact sustainable behaviour. Now, over three hectares the Darwin Ecosysteme is home to lots of green and creative economy companies including around 117 SMEs and 40 associations. It’s a WeWork style co-working space, business incubators, cultural, artistic, architectural and social events, urban culture, shared gardens, nautical club, sustainable food stores and restaurants.
Bordeaux is definitely one of those cities where you could so easily settle into life there, it’s a place where you are not rushed, you can enjoy the small simple pleasures of life and most importantly you could easily maintain a sustainable lifestyle. I thoroughly recommend a trip here and it’s absolutely on my bucket list to go back in summer to visit the vineyards.