My family on my dad’s side, so my French family is from the region of Bordeaux. It’s where my grandmother grew up, it’s where my father was raised with his siblings, it’s where I was born and where I’ve spent my holidays as a child. Most of my childhood memories (in France) soothe between the smell of my grandfather’s precious lawn, freshly mawn, the flavour of buttered cannolaise spread with my grandmother’s homemade “melon d’Espagne” jam that’s spotted with vanilla beans, the joy my sister and I would feel as we see the family house at the other end of the vineyard after a road trip, way too long for two little girls excited about spending their holidays, either in Beythies or Longarisse.
There’s an old stone staircase in my college that brings me back to this other spiral staircase at my grandparents’ house that my cousins and I were absolutely forbidden to use as it didn’t have any banister. This wing of the library has the exact same smell of this old corridor that seemed so dark when we were still little and yet I love climbing up those stairs in the library because this old memory of mine has only remained positive somehow. I’m getting #nostalgic. But I do hold dear this past as they remind me where I’m from and where I know I will always belong.
Easter week-end this year promised to be rather boring, my mother and siblings being in Gabon by my father’s side. Eating chocolate all alone in London and doing nothing else was the picture. Fortunately I had the chance to speak to my cousin Margaux who let me know that most of the family was going to meet in Lacanau for the holiday, and I managed to tag along for a few days. But first stop was Bordeaux.
I was really happy to go back to France, especially to my grandparents’ house as I’ve just explained how much I love the time I spend there, surrounded my loving people. The French countryside is really beautiful, and I can only understand why so many English buy houses in Dordogne and other provincial regions of France. “Douce France, chère pays de mon enfance, bercée de tendre insouciance, je t’ai gardé dans mon cœur.” (You don’t know that you know Charles Trénet; he’s the one who composed “Beyond the Sea”).
I landed in Bordeaux, Mérignac airport 15 minutes early – at least Easyjet is prompt. My grandmother, who I call Mamette because that’s how you say “Grandma” in this part of France, was already there to greet me. She took me to the town centre of Bordeaux and dropped me on the Cours de l’Intendance.
My oldest friend Coline, who I’ve known since I was 4, and I were supposed to meet to grab some drinks and catch up on our lives during the very brief time I was in her city. I walked down the streets of the Centre-ville which is absolutely beautiful.
The Mayor, Alain Juppé, who is probably the French politician I admire the most and who I find the most inspiring, has done such a great job refurbishing everything, and I am so glad he was just re-elected. :D
I walked down the famous rue Sainte-Catherine, which corresponds to our Regent’s Street, just on the scale of Bordeaux. I love seeing the window shops in France… Too many shops we don’t have in London which would bring some novelty to the hundreds of Cath Kidstons, Topshops and Urban Outfitters. It was super sunny, therefore super crowded.
I made my way to the Place Camille Julian where are some really cool bars, brasseries and cafés. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the weird people who hang around the square all day long. A downside you don’t have in London. Every place has its pros and cons I guess.
Coline texted me letting me know we should meet at this café near a flat where we had already been and which we had loved. I changed directions, exploring the streets governed by all those XVIIIth century cut stone buildings.
And there it was: Les mots bleus.
It’s a very calm café/bookshop, perfect to relax, do some reading, and catch up with friends.
Coline and I sat a table outside because there was no way we were going to hide from the warm and pleasing weather that I’ve missed since I’ve lost all faith in English weather. We had a really good time, telling each other about our lives – we hadn’t seen each other in a year so you can imagine how much girl chatting occurred.
I had to leave at 5pm to go back to my grandparents’ flat so we hugged and promised to see each other as soon as possible. One hour and a half is not enough catching up.
Strolling back was absolutely wonderful, I was a little tourist in my own home.
I passed by Molla, the greater bookshop of all times. My grandmother would take me when I was little and I would always come out with a great book to devour at home.
THE SHOP OF MY LIFE!
I obviously couldn’t resist walking in the Baillardan shop… Cannelés are one of THE specialities of the region, and definitely one of my favourite treats.
Just a tiny cute mini one!
I finished my walk with the Quinconces. Another testimony of the beautiful French architecture of old.
New designs are cool too… I mean did you see the inside of my grandparents’ flat??
Going “home” feels good… I really hope I’ll be back sometimes this summer for the tanning season, the bike rides beyond the pines, 10pm Gelato with view onto the Atlantic ocean after the sunset.