Orientation Week in Bordeaux

Bonjour from France! This is Blog Team 1: Zach, Molly, Lessi, and Julia.

Place de la Bourse, on the bank of the Garonne river

Over the last few weeks, we have been exploring our new home for the spring semester!  Without hesitation, we have immersed ourselves in the culture of Bordeaux. We have taken part in many different activities all over the city including wine tastings, museum visits, tours, and a scavenger hunt. We got off to a rough start due to the storm back home that ravaged the North East. Many students were late and we lost three suitcases and one Grace (three of the four have since been returned to us).

A painting in the Musée des Beaux Arts depicting the foggy Bordeaux mornings we’ve come to love, and the docks where Dr. Caldwell lives

One of our first activities was a visit to La Cité du Vin (the City of Wine) where we enjoyed a meal and a wine tasting together. They offered several traditional french dishes that members of our group tried. Charlton Kelley tried a steak tartare, while Azlyne Zheng had foie gras, and Julia Mulhern enjoyed rillettes. After the meal, we got our first experience of wine culture through an interactive museum visit and wine tasting.

Students enjoying wine and contemplating the view of the river from the belvedere at the top of the Cité du Vin

Macalah and Lessi pose for a selfie reflected in the mirror-clad walls of the belvedere 

The Cité du Vin’s unique architecture, intending to evoke the swirling of wine in a glass

Later in the week, we competed in a scavenger hunt centered around the various landmarks and “portes” (doors/gates) in Bordeaux. The hunt ended with snacks at Dr. Caldwell’s apartment, overlooking the Pont de Pierre at sunset.

Lessi, Fiona, and Tanner’s selfie with the iconic Blue Lion, which represents the future of Bordeaux and the right bank of the river

We’ve had our ups and downs and a fair share of miscommunications. For example, Cate thought that when you get hit by a tram, you have to pay the TBM (Transport Bordeaux Métropole) 40 rhinoceros. What she failed to understand was that getting hit by a tram FEELS like getting hit by 40 rhinoceros.

Tram lines along the Pont de Pierre, Bordeaux’s oldest bridge, at sunset

Moreover, after visiting two beautiful chateaux in the Médoc region (a large producer of red wine), our bus faced some technical difficulties. Due to said technical difficulties, we could not travel faster than 12 mph the entire trip home. As we reached the outskirts of Bordeaux, Dr. Caldwell requested we be dropped at the nearest tram station, only for the bus to magically begin working again seconds later.

Lessi, Grace, Molly, and Fiona at the château

Classic oak barrels in the cellar

Lastly, while it was disorienting at first, we have finally learned some key aspects of Bordelaise life… never be on time, family comes before work, and a baguette a day keeps the doctor away. Despite any hiccups, we have truly embraced our motto, “on s’adapte” (we adapt), taken from the film Le sens de la fête.

The Cathédrale Saint-André in the early evening light  

Till next week, when blog team 2 will show you our trip to Toulouse and Carcassonne!

Zach, Molly, Lessi, and Julia.