Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

I Went to France and Thanks to Fodors I Know Why Europe Is So Expensive or Indytravel Went to Bordeaux. :-)

I Went to France and Thanks to Fodors I Know Why Europe Is So Expensive or Indytravel Went to Bordeaux. :-)

Dec 13th, 2004, 05:45 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,330
I Went to France and Thanks to Fodors I Know Why Europe Is So Expensive or Indytravel Went to Bordeaux. :-)

Yeah, I know it's a provocative title but what are you gonna do to get noticed on the internet these days?

Here's my trip report for the Bordeaux region of France. I left Thanksgiving Day and returned on Dec. 5th. As a bit of info I'm a very, very young 43. I'm male and was traveling single. This was my 4th solo trip to Europe. I spent 2 nights in Poitiers, 1 in Angoulême, 2 in Saintes and 4 in Bordeaux. From Bordeaux I took a day trip to St Emilion.

I'd booked the airfare back in June(?) for $475USD roundtrip out of Indianapolis. Luckily I was able to get the time off from my client who can't really decide when they want their ERP software to go live. I was sweating it for a few weeks, but timetables slid in October and I benefited.

I arrived a couple of hours early for my Indy departure. Due to bad weather the day before American put me on a flight leaving in a few minutes. It worked out well. The "early" flight left late but still managed to get me to O'Hare with time to catch my flight to CDG. Oddly enough out of Indy I sat next to a lady who was going to Paris. Another small world kinda thing.

I arrived at CDG at 9:15am on Friday the 26th. I was early. Why do the planes arrive early when you'd planned for a delay? It must be cosmic irony. Passport control, bag claim and customs went very smoothly too. I walked out of the 2A arrival gate at 10:00am. Great, my SNCF prem fare from CDG left for Poitiers at 1:45. 3.75 hours to kill at CDG.

I checked the trains from CDG. Nothing earlier which I knew from the Internet. I also knew if I kept moving by the time I hit Gare Montparnasse I'd not get to Poitiers any faster. It was CDG for me.

I checked out terminal 2E. The one that had the bridge collapse. It was in limited use with just 3 or 4 flights listed. The bathrooms are pretty spacious and practically unused which is nice.

I rode the Line 3 bus that circles Terminal 2. It took 20 minutes with light traffic to make a complete circuit. I walked from one end 2E to the catty-corner other end 2B in less time than that.

I looked at all the signs that annoy me so much. The signs that point out to the Line 3 bus when the walk is closer. I noticed in the TGV station that the only sign for 2A went to the buses. You can walk through 2C into 2A faster than taking the shuttle bus.

I sat and had a café. Normally I'm caffeine free so it's nice to be able to use it and get a kick out of it.

I had more than enough time to realize just how screwy CDG really is. That was just Terminal 2. Terminal 1 certainly has it's own issues.

I was finally able to board my TGV for Poitiers. Standing on the platform I realized I was boarding the "Theme Park Special." The train stopped at Val de Marne for Disneyland Paris, Massy, St Pierre des Corps (Tours,) the Futuroscope theme park and Poitiers.

As the train slowed for Massy I saw the air traffic control tower for Orly airport. It makes me wonder if there's a way to connect with Orly by bus. I also wonder why they don't have a train connection between the two.

I streaked through the countryside towards Poitiers. It rained a bit. The sun came out a bit. It was mostly overcast. I saw the modern buildings at Futuroscope. I finally arrived at the Poiters train station around 4:00pm.
indytravel is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 05:54 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,400
David! Welcome back! I was beginning to wonder if you were still bar hopping with the chef that made your fois gras!!!
kybourbon is online now  
Dec 13th, 2004, 06:11 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,713
He's Home!!! Indy's back and Fodors has him!
cigalechanta is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 06:15 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,400
OOOOpppsss! Spelling
da VIDE and foie
kybourbon is online now  
Dec 13th, 2004, 06:33 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,330
Hey Mimi & Lara!

da-VIDE (my French name ) Has finally returned.

Lara I could have stayed with the foie gras chef for years, but I wouldn't have fit through the airplane door. In some ways it would be fabulous to be "stuck" in France but I'm not sure I want to be as Winnie-the-Pooh stuck in the door to his house with a foie gras, er, honey pot, in his hand.
indytravel is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 06:51 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,460
Now here's a guy who knows how to have a good time on vacation. It never would have occurred to me to ride the bus around the airport and then walk the route to compare. An off the beaten track suggestion that I have never seen before on Fodor's or read in any guide book.

Welcome home.
Nikki is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 07:24 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 422
Glad you're back, back in the USA!

But surely you've got lots more to tell us. Come on now, forget unpacking and all that dreary catching up on business matters, we're waiting to hear the rest. We already know it's gonna be good!
Croque_Madame is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 07:25 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,836
Good going, David, can't wait for the rest. I can totally relate to the caffeine hit in Paris. I never drink coffee at home but the minute I arrive at CDG I get a caffeine hit that boosts me all day!
StCirq is online now  
Dec 13th, 2004, 07:27 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,510
David,
Welcome back! Can't wait to hear all about it!
marcy_ is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 07:34 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,893
what are you gonna do to get noticed on the internet these days?

Post a nude photo of yourself, of course, and provide us with the link.

Looking forward to more, dear. Welcome home.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 03:41 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 669
what a legend.

Where are you going next, indy traveller? Do tell?
alice13 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 04:40 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 438
Welcome home, Dave
Come on now, post some more. Must we beg?
starspinners is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 07:45 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,330

The holidays are slowing me down. Too many social obligations and going to St Louis this weekend while trying to write my trip report.

LOL NYCFS I don't think the world is quite ready for nude photos of me, though it is an idea!




Poitiers


Friday

The last 20 minutes of my TGV trip to Poitiers it rained. I'd planned on avoiding the cost of taxis on this trip. I broke down and told myself I could take a cab this one time. I exited the Poitiers train station to see not a single cab at the taxi stand. Dang fair weather people. All the cabs were out delivering others while I was standing in the rain. I whipped out my umbrella and started walking. How hard can it be to find a hotel in a town of 100k with a compact old city center in the rain with a cartoon map?

Yeah right. I and my cartoon map wandered for 45 minutes in the rain. I'm sure I met half the people of the fair city asking directions. I distinctly remember chatting with a few members of the "clean team" dressed in green. They were swabbing out a public toilet. The French they were speaking as I interrupted them was not the same French taught to me at Waldron High School. They enlightened me that Place Leclerc is pronounced with a silent "c" on the end as they directed me in the right direction. Well, right for a while. I would always go the right way for the first two instructions then get turned around.

I finally found the Place Leclerc. I was standing with the Hôtel de Ville on my right, a Christmas market being set up behind me and a Printemps to my left wishing I had a cell phone when I finally espied the Hôtel Plat d'Etain. Down a small alley it was a couple of dozen feet off the main square. A nice little two star without an elevator. I was on the European 1.5 floor. Sadly only one small trash can. I like at least two in a room to hold all the junk I accumulate through the day. It had a nice shower with curtain, comfortable double bed and a view of the steeple of Eglise St. Porchaire. It was quiet at night and my most expensive hotel of the trip at 45euros a night.

By now it was 6:00pm and quickly getting dark. I decided to start looking for dinner. I walked out r. Carnot knowing there was a Maître Kanter restaurant out that way. I ducked into a bar. Not really surprising that I would duck into a bar. This one was a bit quiet for a Friday evening. It was Europe. I thought I was early.

In my jet-lagged stupor I sipped my kir pêche and read the bar copy of the Sud-Ouest newspaper. People kept piling in yet it was still really quiet. Suddenly I looked around and the bartender started talking to me. That's a bit odd. Usually the barkeep keeps to himself in France unless you start a conversation. I finally realized he was telling me that it was the end-of-the-month meeting of the local sign language group for deaf people. Well, he must have thought I was from the local mental hôpital as slow as I was. I finally figured out "signe" meant sign language as I was seeing people sign all around me. Duh. I'm usually not that slow.

I don't think he was telling me it was a private function. He didn't make any shooing signs towards the door. He was explaining that his sister was deaf and once a month she sponsored the event. It didn't matter to me. I told him I could barely understand French so French sign language wasn't any different to me.

Dinner was at the finally found Maître Kanter. The waiter spoke excellent English. He switched to it after my "bon soir" with a first question of "are you English?" My response was no, American. He was a bit surprised. The French don't seem to run into many Americans in the countryside. It's one of the reasons I go there. We continued our conversation in French and English as the evening progressed. I had a foie gras appetizer and a flammenkuche pizza. With a 50cl pichet of white wine and a dame blanche for dessert it came to 35euro. A bit pricey, but the foie gras part was 14euro. The oysters looked fabulous.

I need to track down some old "friends" and get cranky with them for giving me expensive tastes in food!

Saturday

Saturday morning the rain had stopped. The sun was out. The temperature started in the mid 30's and went a bit over 50 in the afternoon. A perfectly gorgeous day for exploring Poitiers awaited me.

I started with the Eglise St Prochaire near my hotel. Interesting double nave without a distinct cross shape like most old Catholic Churches. I wandered down the street to admire the freshly scrubbed appearance of the Romanesque Notre Dame Church. It's beautiful inside and out. I especially liked the intricate exterior carvings.

On the other side of Notre Dame was a Saturday market in progress. Inside a low, ugly concrete building and all around the outside. I like to walk through the markets watching the throngs of people buying fresh meats, seafood, produce, cheeses, etc. It's so unusual to see things like chickens with the heads still on, whole skinned rabbits, and the seemingly endless variety of gorgeous cheeses.

As the museums were not open for the morning I continued my quest to view churches. I worked my way south through the cathedral with some 12th century stained glass and Radegonde church. I find them all so peaceful and pretty. Every Catholic Church has its own style of the 14 Stations of the Cross. I'm trying to memorize the stations in French. Seems like it would be a novelty at parties if I could ever get it done. Maybe I ought to memorize them in English first.

I ended up at the Clain River. I saw a kingfisher bird working the river. I didn't know they were in Europe. I only rarely see them in the US.

Close enough to noon I stopped for a pint at a corner bar. Though a bit early for a nip (wink, wink) I was on vacation. Standing at the bar sipping my pint I noticed a lady sitting at a table with her drink. From the disapproving look the bartender gave, it must have been at least her 2nd double vodka on the rocks she ordered while I was standing there. Wow, I thought I was being crazy with a beer at 11:30. I guess all I need do is find a crowd that makes me look more responsible.

From there it was over the river and up the hill to see the statue of Notre Dame blessing the city from above. I wanted to climb the spiral stairs up her back side but sadly it was closed to visitors. I had to enjoy the view from her base.

I stopped at a small restaurant near Notre Dame Church: a small salad with two piping hot disks of goat cheese and an onion dressing, the tagine de poulet was tender dark meat with saffron rice and olives, 50cl of sauvignon blanc for a total of 19euro.

While eating my delicious lunch Eminem's latest rap song started playing in the restaurant. It's his latest where he screams "AHHHH" sounding like Peewee Herman getting caught doing the nasty at an XXX theater in Florida. Is that the kind of music to accompany nice food?

Now in the afternoon it was time to visit Poitiers' museums. First up the Musée de Chièvres. A nice, small museum with a mix of stuff. A Tintoretto painting, a Brueghel and a 1700's ornate billiard table were in the collection.

I entered the Baptistry. One of the oldest Christian buildings in France it was built in the mid 300's. In the floor is a sunken pit where supposedly early Catholics practiced full immersion baptism. It looked like an antique hot tub awaiting repairs to me. There were parts of 4th century frescoes on a couple of walls, several sarcophagi and various architectural rocks and blocks strewn about.

Musée Ste-Croix mostly below ground has a large, open courtyard. Lots of sculpture and rescued carvings from buildings and some Martinot glass. The lowest area had Roman walls left intact that were found while constructing the museum.

I went to the train station to buy a ticket for the next day. On the way back I climbed Escalier du Diablo, the devil's stairs. With a challenging name like that I knew I would conquer them with disdain and I did.

Gasping for breath at the top I spotted St Hilaire. Mass was about to start so I stepped into the back of the church. As people walked in they took a host from a big platter and put it onto one of three smaller platters. Except a few people who took host from a smaller platter and put it on the big one. Then there was the little girl who grabbed several of them and started munching them down like chips.

I'm absolutely certain this was host that had not been consecrated. Consecrated host would never be treated so casually. I'm not sure what was going on. Maybe a kind of portion control so that only enough host would be blessed to feed the people attending?

Transsubstantiationism or not I wouldn't want a piece of host that people had been pawing through at the back of a church. I know what at least a couple of those men were doing before they came into the church. I'd bet big euros they don't use hand sanitizer afterwards either. As the procession for Mass started I quietly exited the church to work my way towards dinner.

Dinner was at Le Poitevin. The amusé bouche was a pot of salmon butter with crusty baguette slices. The set menu choices were more a series of small plates which was a nice change.

I started with a rabbit confit. With its fat and stock it was cooked down to a gel consistency and served cold. It had loads of hearty flavor. Next up was 3 huge slabs of foie gras (huge for foie gras) complemented by razor thin slices of grilled pear and a fig compote. It was heaven. The foie was seared hot yet still rare on the inside. Perfect texture and the fat/sweet ratio with the compote were making my tongue tingle.

The 3rd course was goat cheese in a puff pastry served hot with a tiny walnut and greens salad. It was very good but how could it stack up to the prior foie? Dessert was little fruit sorbet scoops doused with peach liqueur. At the end a café was served with a macaroon and several delicious chocolate candies. The food was 28euros. The bottle of wine tacked on another 15.

After that all I could do was waddle back to the hotel and collapse.

indytravel is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 08:15 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 800
Welcome back! Enjoying your report so far.
yeadonite is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 09:53 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 6,101
In regards to beer at 11:30 a.m. -- you can always tell yourself it's afternoon somewhere in the world!
hopingtotravel is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 10:15 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,420
I am really enjoying this trip report, you write so well. I do hope you got to Futuroscope, I want to hear what that's like.
Christina is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 10:31 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,510
Oooh, that foie gras with grilled pear and fig compote sounds SO good!

And all the goat cheese, too.....

Enjoying your report --Keep it coming!
marcy_ is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 10:35 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,134
I am enjoying your report, love your writing style and wit. Now I have the image of Peewee at the movies, thanks alot!!
SeaUrchin is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 10:41 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,025
Small world...I live in St. Louis and was in Indy over the weekend. I guess we traded places!

Thanks for the trip report. I'm enjoying it!

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 11:19 AM
  #20  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,144
Welcome back, Indy.

Am enjoying your report.
ira is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:27 PM.