Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: garonne

March getaway part 3, Toulouse

I’ll finish this post before heading back to Bordeaux from Annecy, as I will have A LOT to write next week about this training school I’m attending that is nearing the end.

In the last part of my March getaway with LY, we arrived in Toulouse, a relatively big city in France. Toulouse is between Bordeaux and Carcassonne, so after our little stop in Carcassonne, LY and I took the train back to Toulouse and stayed there for the night before heading back to Bordeaux on Sunday night.

The first thing we did after we dropped off our stuff at the hotel was find food and head to the riverside for some night views of the city. On our way, we passed by many areas where nightlife was thriving and crowds and crowds of drunk students were partying. Ha, it was a Saturday night, what else did we expect! We arrived by the Garonne river, the same that traverses Bordeaux, to a gorgeous view of the Pont Neuf and the quais, yet in my opinion, still not as gorgeous as that of Bordeaux 😉

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At the end of the river the sundown beams…

♬…all the relics of a life long lived…♫ Can anyone guess the song lyrics in the title? 😉

19 months since first stepping into Europe. Let me do a quick count. 10 months in Bordeaux, 8 months in Louvain-la-Neuve, and a month last year back in Canada for vacation. Although Bordeaux is supposed to be my “home” city and I’m supposed to spend way more time here compared to Louvain-la-Neuve, it seems like the way things worked out, the ratio is almost one-to-one so far. It hasn’t even been one full year in total in Bordeaux, if we look at it that way! Then June is China and Belgium, then Canada again in September and Belgium in October. It seems like I’m not gonna hit the one-year mark in Bordeaux till…November this year? What a whole lot of movement…and excitement coming up!

At least I’m here till the end of May. Spring in Bordeaux means rain…loads of it! It has been raining intermittently pretty much every single day for the past two or three weeks, and it seems like it will persist for at least another week. Goodness gracious. And it’s cold. Not so much the temperature is low, but the wind really adds quite a chill to the exterior…AND interior. My room is so cold at night that sometimes I have to turn on the heat. Is it really almost the end of April?

It wasn’t always like this, though. I was told that there were a few days in March – most likely the days when I was attending the training school – when the weather was so nice that you could go out in shorts and a T-shirt. We’re talking about 20+ degrees Celsius, the kind of spring (even summer) weather that we really enjoy. Then I came back to Bordeaux and the overcast skies chased away the sunshine. It’s not the first time that the weather turned gloomy upon my return to Bordeaux from Belgium. I think typical Belgium weather, consisting of dark clouds and rain, likes me enough to follow me back to France. I don’t think it’s very welcomed.

Before the attack of the rain, though, I caught a few days of relatively good sunshine, meaning warm enough that I wasn’t going to freeze from the wind by the river. That was about two weeks ago, when one night I decided to bike to the riverside after dinner to have a leisurely walk. It’s been too long since I’ve last been here. Way too long.

The walk started after I parked my bike at a nearby VCub station. As usual there were runners and bikers around, sharing the wide pedestrian area with people like me who prefer to walk slowly down the river. St.Michel cathedral stood tall and proud in a distance, always a prominent landmark visible from the waterfront and usually the first thing I notice when I arrive in Bordeaux by train.

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When the river awakes

Every year, the city of Bordeaux celebrates one of two things. Since 2011 is an odd number year, it was the time for…Fête le Fleuve! On June 18 and 19, the quays of Bordeaux awoke to the call of the river as the celebration began with dances, concerts, and of course, a spectacular firework at the end of both days. It rained a little during the afternoon on Saturday, but thank God the skies were clear the rest of the time, especially during the fireworks!

(If you were wondering, wine is celebrated in even number years, as if you hadn’t already guessed that.)

The great thing about Bordeaux during the summer is its many festivals that fill the city with music and animation; the bad thing is that transit workers tend to strike on those days. Yup, services from 6h30 till 20h00 with a frequency of 10 to 12 minutes per train (20 to 25 minutes on Sunday) certainly didn’t sound very convenient for an event that was supposed to last all night long. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. Perhaps they want to party as well. This of course makes it difficult for people who live outside the city center to gain access to where most of the activities are, since public transit is rather vital in Bordeaux. I am lucky to be living right in the center of downtown, so Fête le Fleuve was the perfect time for me to get out and immerse fully in the festivities.

The festival was grand. The entire downtown area from Quinconces to la Bourse was filled with people out to enjoy the entry to summer. Never have I seen so many people all at once in Bordeaux before. And never has the Garonne seemed so gorgeous before, so elegant, so OURS.

Welcome to Bordeaux, the beautiful land of wine!

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Back to France part 2: My Bordeaux

Read part 1 here and part 3 here.

Bordeaux! Je t’aime!

Yup, after a month and a half of being away from Bordeaux, I was finally going back, albeit only for two days. My friend and I decided that we’d make a short stop by Bordeaux, since her European experience wouldn’t be complete without a visit to my main base in France. I will be going to her headquarter in London in May, so let’s just call this an exchange!

The trip was actually quite well-timed, though unintentionally. Just last week, while talking with my supervisor, he was saying how it’d be nice if we could try a different approach with our experiments, the only problem being that the chemicals we need were in Bordeaux and we’d need to get them shipped. You probably saw where this is going. So I said, “Um…actually I planned a trip to Bordeaux this weekend, so…I can go to the lab and bring them back?” My supervisor literally jumped for joy at the suggestion, and so my return had an added purpose. What perfect coincidence.

So you see, my stay in Europe is not all fun and play; I do work too ^_^

Anyway, back to Bordeaux. Remember that word that I used to describe Bordeaux? Elegant. I arrived in Bordeaux during the autumn season, spending my first European fall and winter there. Even then the city was elegant, but my goodness, Bordeaux is a heavenly beauty during the springtime. I felt like I was falling in love with it all over again. Quinconces, St. Catherine, the Garonne River, Place de la Bourse, Victoire…everything felt so renewed, so FRESH under the sun! I absolutely did not want to come back to Louvain-la-Neuve.

Of course, with a friend close by, I finally have some pictures of myself in Bordeaux! The following were all taken near some of my favourite spots in downtown Bordeaux.

A view of the St. André Cathedral outside my apartment. It still looks so majestic and so grand. Oh, I haven’t forgotten about the special entry that I said I’d dedicate to the cathedral. I still intend to do it because it deserves such recognition. Once I’m back in Bordeaux from Louvain-la-Neuve, I’ll find a day to take only pictures of the cathedral from every angle possible. Let’s hope I don’t put it to shame!

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From Quinconces to Garonne

After one week of officially being a grad student, I am already starting to appreciate the weekend. Though the first week consisted mostly of burying myself in literature, I find that both my body and my mind are exhausted by the time it’s 21:00. I have been steadily keeping a sleeping schedule of 22:30 to 6:30 for the past week, and I guarantee this will not last more than a month. Me sleeping early – that’s like snow in Bordeaux (according to my supervisor, the locals are wowed every time it snows in Bordeaux).

Also, I’ve decided to update the blog weekly instead of whenever I want. I’ll put up something new every Saturday or Sunday, so check back or subscribe! 🙂

I’ll start with the pictures this week, because a picture is worth a thousand words but starting an entry with a thousand words may drive away my visitors. This week, I took a trip down to the Garonne, the river that traverses Bordeaux. The weather is gorgeous and a walk sounded like a perfect idea, so why not?

Trees at Quinconces

I started my trip at the Place des Quinconces, and this is the first thing I saw when I got off the tram. Trees – lots of trees. I really like this place. Like…really. When I first saw this (which actually was last week) I literally said, out loud, “Wow, this is…nice.” Yes, the ellipsis too. I paused between “is” and “nice”. Anyway, I have a thing for perfectly aligned trees creating a pathway between them. Quite lovely.

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