On Friday afternoon we took the tram downtown and walked all over this ancient city, taking in the charming architecture and lovely shops. It is still incredible to me that this city has been here since Roman times (actually, before), and it is very awe-inspiring to be in such an old, historical city. Here are some pictures from our excursion.
Picture #1: This is the Cathedrale Saint-Andre, which was built in the 11th-century and was the church where Eleanor of Aquitane married Louis VII in 1137. Very old and very majestic, this church has a central chancel/chapel and around it are more chapels, some with candles for you to light, some where you can pray. One was in use for a mass while we toured this building our first day in Bordeaux, so it really added to the atmosphere while I walked around. There are very old paintings on the walls and magnificently detailed and colorful stained glass windows. After we had toured the Cathedrale, we went over to a tower that sits adjacent to the church where we climbed over 250 steep, winding stone steps to the tower. The tower being so old, the steps were very uneven and were obviously used by a people smaller than we are today. I had to squeeze through the small doorways in the tower and often had to put my head down on the descent to keep from bumping it - and I'm only 5'3! The climbing was hard, but the view from the two levels we climbed to were worth every aching joint. Again, this is a recap of my first day, but this picture was taken on our Friday trip.
Picture #2: Ths is one of the streets we were on. It was also one of the least crowded. Shops line the street and there are residences above them - not unlike our modern cities such as Chicago and New York, only these have been this way for hundreds of years. The streets are so narrow at times that although they are two-way, only one car fits and so there is a lot of maneuvering one has to do when driving (it's more than I care to try - thank goodness for the tram!).
Picture #3: We stopped on this plaza of the cathedral for cafe creme and some pastries that my cousin was good enough to run and get for us from a patisserie nearby. How can you sit anywhere without something to much on in France? :-) I love the cafes here because they are mostly outdoor seating only (there are wide umbrellas to shield you from rain) and you can sit down anywhere, order coffee and stay as long as you like - they'll never kick you out or ask you to leave. Oddly enough, the seating areas are often seperate from the kitchens. There have been many instances where I've crossed the street or walked the sidewalk with a server who is on his way from the kitchen to the restaurant's actual dining area. We ate dinner at a restaurant last night where the kitchen was one door over from the dining area. Our server had to go back and forth on the sidewalk all night.
Picture #4: Another view. This time you can see the back of me and my cousin. I am on the far left, wearing a blue shirt and pushing the stroller for my cousin, center, in the green shirt.