Saturday, June 7, 2014

On the Streets of Bordeaux:

Walking through the streets of Bordeaux: a city nestled in Aquitaine, the official name of this southwest corner of France, which is separated from the Atlantic Ocean to its left by a dense sea of coniferous trees–the Landes Forest. An inland city at its finest, Bordeaux’s history began to accelerate during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the former the era of its Golden Age, when the power of the French Colonial Empire was at its greatest extent. The Garonne River snakes its way along the city; the Pont de pierre bridge spans it. Known the world over for its wines, those vines exist mostly in the countryside, nearby the château that surround the city; the city center is largely where the wine produced from those vines is largely consumed–if it isn't exported–and in endless volumes, too. Strolling almost anywhere, it’s hard not to find someone raising their glass yet again; clustered wine glasses endlessly chink on sidewalk cafés, bistros, and restaurants. Yet wine is not the only diamond set within the wonder that constitutes the offerings of Bordeaux; the city’s architecture is sumptuous and stoutly expresses the absolutist ideals of the eighteenth century, as they existed before the French Revolution. So stately is Bordeaux’s architecture that the Haussmannian renovations of Paris in the nineteenth century were–interestingly enough–modeled on this fine city to the south; the French government has even taken up residence in Bordeaux during its few moments of exile, from Paris. Tans and creams contrast with shades of grays and blacks, and all kinds of formations made from wrought iron; all this is set within a dense sprawl of finely aged and intimately interlocking streets, along the Garonne River, in the south of France.