Summer is in full swing and what better way to mark the sunny season than a road trip to France? Here’s what we got up to down South last month.
We drove to Folkestone and stayed overnight, ready for the Eurotunnel to Calais the next morning. It was a nice way to ease into the journey, especially as we had a long way to go. Sam was kindly doing all the driving so I wanted to make sure he had plenty of breaks, especially as there was a heatwave both in Britain and France. We’re on our way!
Saturday and Sunday
On Saturday, we caught the Eurotunnel to Calais, which only took 35 minutes. It was BRILLIANT! After leaving the tunnel, we set off and Sam drove as much as he could before needing a rest. We attempted a pitstop in Paris but parking was a nightmare so after a quick coffee we carried on to Blois for the night.
We finally arrived in Bordeaux, late on Sunday afternoon. It was 40-degrees so a dip in the hotel pool was essential after checking into Mercure Bordeaux Lac. After unpacking, we went out for dinner and a walk around the nearby lake to stretch our legs.
The next day, we headed to the Monument aux Girondins, Palace de la Bourse and cooled off in the Miroir d’Eau, which was a lifesaver on another scorching day! With plenty of shade, the Jardin Public also gave us some respite from the 42-degree heat. The homemade peach iced tea in the café went down a treat!
Then, we strolled through Rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian street in Europe. And of course, popped into a few shops including Galeries Layfayette and Baillardran to sample the famous vanilla canelé. After that, we drove back to the hotel, had a swim and got ready for dinner at L’Aquitania. The carpaccio with mango was delicious!
Today was another day of exploring. We hopped on a little tourist train, which took us through the city and gave an audio commentary of the history of Bordeaux’s heritage. We saw various landmarks such as the Grosse Cloche, one of the oldest belfries in France and Cathédrale Saint-André. After taking inspiration from the train stops, we sauntered back to Place du Palais and had an espresso at Chez Fred, which offered stunning views of the Porte Cailhau. To finish, we hired bikes and cycled along the river in the sunshine. Can I live here, s’il vous plaît?
We spent the whole day at Aqualand waterpark on the Bassin d’Arcachon, which was fun. Sam had booked Arcada for the evening, a Michelin guide restaurant tucked away in one of the many side streets of Bordeaux. The food was exceptional and the service was brilliant, it’s really worth a visit if you’re in Bordeaux! My starter was wonderful, tomatoes with peaches and mozzarella. The lamb was perfect with the medjool date confit and Sam’s new favourite desert is the chocolate pear with tonka bean.
Today was all about the beach! We ambled to Plage du Lac, which was about 25 minutes from our hotel. It was a lovely, clean beach with plenty of shade from the nearby trees. It was extremely busy but to be expected in the summer holidays. In the evening, Sam had booked Le Bistrot du Fromager, which had the most divine selection of cheeses. How could we not go to France and not overindulge? Post-cheese, we had a gorgeous dessert and more peach iced tea at a stunning, traditional brasserie, La Belle Epoque.
Our last full day in Bordeaux was mainly spent wandering around the city centre. We called in cute little bakeries, browsed the markets and stopped for a peach iced tea (no shock there!) and grilled pineapple at Café Des Arts. Magnifique!
We love to make the most of anywhere we go so it was an ideal way to finish our time in this spectacular city. As usual, Sam was a complete sweetheart and had booked another outstanding restaurant for dinner, Le Loup. The cuisine was remarkably high quality – I chose the strawberry gazpacho to start and skate fish for the main course while Sam went for the Iberico pork ribs with polenta.
Saturday and Sunday
Sadly, it was time to leave lovely Bordeaux. We loaded up the car and spent most of the day driving. We stopped in Saint-Omer, a town to the south-east of Calais. Not ones to miss an opportunity, we explored as much as could. The Jardin Public was worth visiting for the flowerbeds alone, it was probably the most impressive park I’ve ever seen!
Naturally, we couldn’t leave without sampling the cuisine so we had dinner at Restaurant Claire Marais, another one of Sam’s fine dining finds! I was ridiculously spoiled with incredible food on this entire trip and I’m so grateful. On Sunday, we said au revoir to France and drove back to Wales.
I don’t know what it was about this holiday but nearly 4 weeks later, I still can’t get it off my mind. VIVA LA FRANCE! I cannot WAIT to go back.