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Beginning in Bordeaux

sunny 26 °C

A couple of ferries, nine hours on an A380 super jumbo jet, and a coach, took us just 26 hours from our island home to the storm-lashed south coast of England. However, between downpours, we visited the Channel port of Shoreham where a maritime junkyard has been turned into a semi-floating village by an ad-hoc army of landlocked seafarers. Dozens of dilapidated ships sit on the mudflats and only come afloat during the highest tides. Among the numerous unseaworthy vessels now turned into a home is one of the first motor torpedo boats to have arrived in Normandy on D-Day in 1944. However, first prize for ingenuity must go to the person who stuck a broken down bus, an airplane cockpit and several scrapped vans onto an old barge and rents out 'rooms' to tourists looking for something different!
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We think the (seemingly) unexploded bomb in the mud next door might be off-putting to some prospective guests.

We have some 'different' accommodations lined up for us in the near future but our next port of call was a lofty apartment in the historic French city of Bordeaux, 60 miles upriver from the Atlantic on the banks of the Garonne River. There are no sinking relics on the riverbanks here – just a British three masted schooner and an enormous cruise liner overshadowing the grand waterside buildings. The city has a wealth of interesting architecture from the middle ages with triumphal entrances to the city...
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...and church spires dating back to the 12th century...
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The riverside square known as le Place de la Bourse is surrounded by magnificent buildings from the mid 1700s, but Bordeaux has been an important city for millennia. It was a great Roman city nearly two thousand years ago and, despite the fact that it is the South of France, it was an English city for 300 years (1154 – 1435). The whole region was English thanks to the marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. But all that glitters is not regal and some of the backstreets of Bordeaux are as dismal and derelict as many of the boats on the skids in Shoreham...
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However, on a Sunday afternoon the pedestrianised shopping streets were abuzz with Bordelais...
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Traditional cinnamon cakes, called canelés, are everywhere in Bordeaux and we had no idea why some bakeries had window displays full of the unsold little delicacies while others couldn't make them fast enough. Here's just a part of the long line-up at one of the popular places...
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We soon discovered the allure of this patisserie – the canelés were a third of the price at other places.
Bordeaux was interesting but was just a one-night stopover for us to get our bearings, pick up a hire car and brush up our French before heading inland to our first destination – the famous wine region of Dordogne.
No sooner had we left the city of Bordeaux than we slipped off the main road and weaved our way through the vineyards that have made this region famous throughout the world. Names of villages and chateaux slip by like a walk through the French aisle of a classy liquor shop. First stop – the village of St Emilion where the grape harvest is in full swing. Grapes grow everywhere here – even on the slopes of the 13th century keep of the king's castle that towers over the picturesque town...
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The ancient streets of St. Emilion are delightfully calm, (especially on Mondays at the end of September).
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This year's vintage isn't in the bottle yet but we were able to snap up a very nice bottle of red that has a sell by date somewhere in the 2030s. Cheers for now. Next stop – Bergerac: another town whose name is synonymous with happiness in a bottle.
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Posted by Hawkson 01:26 Archived in France

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Comments

I woke up to your lovely blog with bedside transport to the wine fields. Always a pleasure to virtually accompany you on your travels. Thanks for the words and photos. “To your health.”
????????love, trudy

by Trudy

I did not see you all since very long time when wi ll you visit again sri Lanka

by S L Brothers Tours

Happy happy Birthday Sheila! What a beautiful area to celebrate. We will toast you tonight. May this be another new year filled with wonderful moments and delightful surprises. Enjoy your day. Love, Trudy

by Trudy

Salut! And happiest of birthdays to you Sheila!

by Catherine

Happy Birthday Shelia. Most certainly a bottle of good wine and a delicious meal will honour your special day. And the adventure begins.......

by Sue Fitzwilson

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday Sheila! Enjoy and safe travels to both of you!

by Sandra

Add our wishes for a Happy Birthday Sheila. Enjoying your blog as usual. Note the backpacker with the two dogs. Odd combination.

by R and B

As I was reading this post, a notice came up that you had seen the birthday card. How do two separate sites on the same topic come together? Synchronicity? Love and good health wishes for the coming year.

by Janet

Happy Birthday Sheila! What an exciting way to start a new year. xoxo

by Ginny

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