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Sat Mar 18, 2017, 11:30 AM

Celebrating Food and Wine in Bordeaux

'On a Sunday afternoon, people streamed across the Place de la Comédie, a grand Haussmannian square in central Bordeaux. The crowd was diverse in age, social class and ethnicity, but, this being France, the majority wore artfully draped scarves. They rode by on public share bikes and sipped espresso at the terrace cafes on the square’s southern edge, in the shadow of an elongated sculpture of a head by the contemporary Catalan artist Jaume Plensa. They clustered in pools of sunlight on the limestone steps of the Grand Théâtre and trickled contentedly out of Gordon Ramsay’s Le Pressoir d’Argent and Philippe Etchebest’s Le Quatrième Mur, part of a recent wave of high-profile restaurant openings in this comely port city in southwestern France.

As I took in the scene, it was hard to believe that not so long ago Bordeaux was considered somewhat of a backwater. Despite being one of the world’s major wine industry capitals, the city was known for years as La Belle Endormie, or Sleeping Beauty, as much for the smoke-blackened walls of its center as for its sleepy, overlooked reputation.

But in the last two decades, Bordeaux has come awake. An ambitious revitalization campaign begun in the mid-1990s by Alain Juppé, the longstanding center-right mayor and a former prime minister, cleaned up the city center, making it more welcoming to pedestrians. The project also established a still-expanding tram system and transformed over 7,500,000 square feet of former docklands into an agreeable terrain of walkways, bike paths, landscaped gardens and public waterside attractions. In 2007, half of the restored neo-Classical city received Unesco recognition, making it the largest urban World Heritage site. In 2013, Bordeaux was ranked as France’s second-favorite city, after Paris. Last June, the city added to its offerings La Cité du Vin, an ambitious new museum on the banks of the river Garonne dedicated to the history of French viticulture, and as of December, a new high-speed train line, set to begin service this summer, will run from Gare Montparnasse in Paris to Bordeaux in just over two hours.'>>>


It's fun to read about Bordeaux, as I've visited there briefly on several memorable occasions during different stages of my life. Most 'recently,' when my now 30-something children were young, our first eating-stop after disembarking from the train from Paris, and launching our weeks-long trip around France, we discovered how DIFFERENT McDonalds a la francaise is!

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