We arrived in Bordeaux yesterday and spent the afternoon exploring the neighborhood of our hotel. Today we got better acquainted with the city. Near our hotel is one of the most popular attractions in the city, the Reflecting Pool (Le Miroir d’Eau). The impression given by the name may well be the intent of the city and the designer, but in practice, at least during the weekend daytime hours, it is more of a family playground:
What child doesn’t love splashing around in water an inch deep, or in a fine spray of mist on a warm autumn afternoon? But my own tastes run more to the tranquility of the night:
This is the largest installation of its kind in the world, almost 2/3 the size of an American football field. It cycles about every half hour filling to its one inch depth, resting (or trying to rest) for 15 minutes, then emptying and going into the misting mode for about three minutes. It’s a must-see if you find yourself in Bordeaux.
We are here, of course, because Bordeaux the city is the center of Bordeaux the wine region of west France. We concentrated our exploration of this heritage by visiting The City of Wine, a new museum along the Garonne River.
We arrived about lunchtime, and guess what? We had a chance to have wine with out lunch. Check out the selection. Not only is the wine itself a work of the vintner’s art, but some of the labeling is itself pleasant to look at:
The exhibits are interesting in themselves, but to this engineer, the use of interactivity was impressive: just wave your hand over an image, and it adapts to your own interests. In addition to an exhibit on wine in the Bible, there was also an exhibit on “The Dark Side” of wine. Something for everyone.
Like any major city, Bordeaux is about more than wine. It has a long history, as illustrated by the Great Bell, built in the 15th century adjacent to the church of St. James. (James is usually rendered Jacques in French, but James is the Gasconese form, the ancient language of the region.)
If you’ve been paying close attention to the skies in the pictures of this trip, it’s been fairly consistent that the days start out overcast and foggy, and clear up in the afternoon.
Our parking garage was in the same building with a library and a school. As we came out, this sculpture reassured me that I wasn’t the only one with the occasional “one of those days.”
We will add a little bit to our wine tour tomorrow with a side trip to St. Emillion, a small village between here and Sarlat, our destination for tomorrow night.