Reflections of Bordeaux

WaterMirror_AFARWhile most travelers seek the bright lights of Paris, I prefer France’s smaller cities. Bordeaux quickly became one of my favorite places and not because it’s undeniably the wine capital of the world. The joie de vivre was contagious, and the history, architecture and culture are rich reminders of France’s glory, both past and present, in this enduring and picturesque city.

The “Miroir d’ Eau” near the Garonne River is a delightful place for an afternoon of people watching. While photographers focus on the reflections of the Place de la Bourse in the mirror of water, children and fun-loving adults dance through the fine mist that spews every 15 minutes or so. Bordeaux’s once grimy waterfront has been replaced with exquisite gardens, walking and bicycle trails, and cafés that attract local families, street musicians, lovers, and tourists.

My 5:30 a.m. departure from Bordeaux allowed me an opportunity to take one last photo of the Grand Theatre de Bordeaux, which opened in 1780. Royal architect Victor Lewis conceived the theatre as a temple of arts and light and succeeded in making it one of Europe’s most magnificent venues. The 12 statues above the Corinthian-style columns GrandTheatre_AFARrepresent nine muses and three goddesses — Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Inside, the focal point is a grand marble staircase leading to an elegant auditorium that holds more than 1,100 people. Home of the Bordeaux National Opera and its ballet company, the building is also open for guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but it would be a shame to miss a live performance. Be sure to have dinner or a glass of wine at the Café Opera inside the theatre. A two-course, pre-fixed menu is available prior to performances with service that assures you will be in your seat when the curtain rises.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, Bordeaux offers culture, heritage, fine cuisine, and — of course — the world’s greatest wines.

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