Friday, August 17, 2012

Bordeaux, Argeles Sur Mer, and Cahon

My brothers went to Bordeaux and came back raving about it, so we planned a trip to Bordeaux. XiaoQin hadn't been to the Mediterranean either, so we decided to tack that on, especially when booking.com found us a discounted hotel at a really good price.
From Europe 2012 Selects
I'd stayed in Bordeaux at the start of the 2008 Tour Across France, but it was only a stopover before starting our tour, so I didn't pay much attention. This time though, it would prove to be the only time that XiaoQin and I would manage to get to a gastronomic restaurant in France. Unfortunately, we arrived on a Sunday, when most of the restaurants were closed, but we managed to book a place at Solena, and we were blown away by the meal. At 39 Euros a person, we got a 3 course meal where everything was cooked superbly. It's a very small restaurant and an intimate dining experience, but I can highly recommend it.

The next day, we took a city tour and looked around for food and found a nice seafood restaurant that XiaoQin had spotted earlier in the day.

This was my first time driving on French freeways, which was occasionally a frustrating experience, but also frequently set up more sensibly than American freeways. For instance, speed limits are enforced by traffic cameras, rather than cops chasing you down to give you a ticket. Now this means nothing if the cameras are randomly placed, but what happens is that the location of the speed cameras are well known, and most GPS units will tell you where they are. This is a sensible way to do things if your goal is to keep everyone safe: what you do is to place the speed limit cameras at dangerous locations so people slow down. The dark side of French freeways is that the toll booths are annoyingly placed, and not all of them take credit cards, so you have to carry quite a bit of cash just in case. Near Argeles-Sur-Mer, the freeway switched between 130 and 110 speed limits a few times, and unfortunately, one of those times confused me and I ended up with a speeding ticket (that was also unfortunately addressed to my host, something we cleared up once we got home).
From Europe 2012 Selects
I'd never been to Cote Vermille in the summer, and it's a good thing. The beaches were packed. What's worse is by around 1pm, the sand is scorching hot, burning your feet! We spent a couple of mornings at the beach, each time packing up by around 2pm to avoid the worst of the heat. We also visited Colliure, and rented kayaks for a little bit.
From Europe 2012 Selects
After a few days at the beach, we drove home, stopping in Cahon for a night before returning to Chinon. We had one last day in Chinon, where we rented a Canoe and paddled down river. The slow moving river lent a lazy feeling to the trip.

The return to Paris was uneventful, though unfortunately the airline lost half our luggage on the flight back to San Francisco. Fortunately, both pieces were eventually found and returned to us.
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