After the wedding in Bordeaux, France, my family and I made our way to Venice to begin the Italian chapter of our European vacation. Located in the Veneto Region of north-eastern Italy, Venice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that receives over 30 million tourists a year. The city itself is home to only 50,000 people - the lowest population in centuries - but the exorbitant amount of tourists makes Venice a lively (and crowded) place. Looking beyond the tourists, it's fascinating to observe a city on water and all the nuances of such a place; the traffic jams in the canals, the public services on boats, and the modified infrastructure. The architecture in Venice is primarily Venetian-Gothic inspired by Byzantine and Moorish styles of the 14th century, creating a skyline of pointed arches, ornate spires, and elaborate decoration. Venice is truly a photographer’s dream; although we were only in the city for an evening, a few hours of exploring was more than enough time to fill my memory card with colourful images of the floating city.
Traveling through Europe is always an adventure. My family and I recently arrived home from a ten-day journey through France and Italy, a family vacation we have been planning for almost two years. Our oldest family-friends’ son was getting married to his French bride in the South of France, so a weekend in Bordeaux was planned as the first stop and home-base for the first leg of our trip. Situated in South-Western France, Bordeaux is a city famously known for being the wine capital of the world, and it is not without good reason: there are over 8,500 chateaux producing Bordeaux’s namesake red wine in the region. Luckily for us, the wedding was held in the heart of France’s wine district, at the historic Châteaux de Mouchac - a castle within the small commune of Grézillac, located an hour outside of Bordeaux. The opportunity to attend a traditional French wedding in one of the most picturesque regions of France was an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we are so honoured to have been able to attend such an extraordinary event.
Bordeaux itself is a wonderful city with lots of things to see and do. My family rented a traditional French apartment on rue Sainte-Catherine, Bordeaux’s main pedestrian shopping street, during our stay. Having arrived in France at the beginning of their annual nation-wide summer sale, the city was bustling with excitement, and the location of our apartment was right in the thick of it. We were staying only steps away from Place de la Comédie, which is an iconic square where the main streets of Bordeaux converge. It features important landmarks such as the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, the InterContinental Grand Hotel, and Sanna of Bordeaux - an illusionist sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Chartrons in particular was my favourite district of Bordeaux: this charming neighbourhood is home to antique shops, vintage stores, outdoor markets, and the lively street rue Notre Dame.
The Garonne river divides the city of Bordeaux, separating it into two banks: the Left Bank and Right Bank. Quayside attractions line the Garrone, such as the Miroir d’eau, which draws in locals and tourists alike. Designed by the late landscape architect Michel Corajoud, Miroir d’eau is a large reflective pool situated in front of the Place de la Bourse, and in the summer it releases a cool mist every few minutes - ideal for the sweltering 40C we were experiencing during our stay. On the other side of the Garonne - the Right Bank of the city - is La Bastide, a former industrial site that has seen major redevelopment over recent years, including a new botanical garden along the waterfront. La Bastide offers striking views of the historic spires in Bordeaux’s city centre, and offers a quiet respite from the city's touristy Left Bank.
Having traveled to Bordeaux only for the sake of the wedding, I was surprised by the amount to discover in this beautiful place - our only day of exploring barely scratched the surface of what France’s sixth largest city has to offer.