If Emily in Paris captured your imagination in quarantine, chances are you’re in the throes of plotting a not-so-socially-distanced move to the city. But before you book an overpriced Airbnb in the city with the worst air pollution in France, allow me to recommend an alternate destination: Bordeaux.
Whatever you’re seeking by living out your francophone dreams – a richer diet, a return to nature, a happening social life – chances are, you’ll find it in Bordeaux.
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With plenty of green space and a more relaxed pace of life, Bordeaux scores highly on quality of life indewes. Photo: AFP
Quality of Life
Ranked as the fourth most desirable French city to live in, Bordeaux beats Paris in both financial and meteorological climate.
While it is rich port city, your euro will go much further here than in the capital. And if you share the French preference for countryside living, the city is even more attractive; it’s just a day-trip away from the Atlantic coast and boasts a wealth of public parks within the city limits.
If weather and quarantine restrictions allow, testing the waters around Bordeaux is a must.
While Bordeaux proper doesn’t border the ocean, a smattering of small surf villages are accessible from the city by train or bus. Sign up for lessons or simply rent a board if you’re a seasoned surfer in the charming beach towns of Biscarrosse Plage, Hossegor or Biarritz.
Although the city never experienced prohibition, Bordeaux’s thriving bar scene has happily adopted the American speakeasy tradition.
For a clandestine drinking experience, swing by one of the city’s best-hidden speakeasies, Symbiose or CanCan Bordeaux, for a signature cocktail. Locating the bars might be difficult – Symbiose’s entrance is camouflaged by a grandfather clock and CanCan purports to be a pitiably small bookshop – but their intimate atmosphere is worth the search (once they reopen after lockdown, naturally).
Likely due to its flourishing skate culture, Bordeaux boats an impressive population of hipsters, and has the trendy neighborhoods to prove it.
The groovy pearl of the city is DARWIN, a former military barracks and general store that locals have since converted into a one-stop shop for entertainment. Among other attractions, the complex now boasts a bookstore, café and brunch spot, skate park and thrift shop. On weekends, there’s also a joint flea and farmer’s market.
The city's most famous product definitely lives up to the hype. Photo: AFP
Need I say more? Bordelaise wine is renowned for a reason.
Living within this wine culture gives you access to not only an abundance of tasting opportunities at local restaurants and nearby vineyards, but also two wine museums that specialise in the history of Bordeaux wine culture (and which also happen to offer tastings).
Your everyday diet will literally be infused with wine – many traditional sauces and meat dishes incorporate local wines. Pro tip for wine lovers: when in doubt, any dish described as à la bordelaise will likely be steeped in a local wine sauce.