This Summer my boyfriend and I decided to move to Bordeaux, France; mainly for education purposes. Honestly, Bordeaux wasn’t our preferred choice of city but it seemed like it could bring the opportunities we were in search of. Upon arrival we had nowhere of our own to rent, so for the time being we had prebooked an Airbnb for the first time so that we had somewhere to stay for a little longer than a week until we could find a place of permanent residence. Unfortunately, as somewhat expected, it was a rocky beginning in France. Getting an apartment to rent was proving difficult; it takes more than money and the right as an EU citizen to live in France to be able to actually rent or buy a property there. You need a French ‘citizen’ to be your guarantor, or get a bank guarantor which in our particular case seemed highly unobtainable. Nevertheless we finally found a dormitory style accommodation facility, which worryingly ran on a month-to-month contract basis (so renewing the contract eventually couldn’t be further extendable).
Despite the worries of trying to find appropriate housing and getting accepted into places of education, we had some days of exploring to simply live a little.
We found a Facebook group which was advertised as a language exchange meet up, where you can learn and practice languages that you want to learn or help someone to learn whilst making friends at the same time. Luckily the designated meet up spot was less than a 10 minutes walk from our dormitory, in a cafe/bar. The social group was more like a hang out rather than educational, and suprising wasn’t as awkward as I initially anticipated (except for the fact that I couldn’t speak French and was the only one in the group that could only speak one language *sigh*). We ‘promised’ to attend the group fortnightly, but alternatively ended up socialising outside of the group’s usual meetings with a select few from the original language exchange group. Towards the end of our time in Bordeaux, a friend encouraged us to attend an English speaking church. For some reason I expected the church to be run by Americains or at least by French people who speak English, however I was surprised to discover that a fellow British family were the founders of the church. Its wonderful to make friends with people from all over the world, but knowing that you will go your separate ways so soon after meeting is discouraging.
The centre of Bordeaux has its centuries old hotels that act as a backdrop to some beautiful fountains and sprinklers which are embedded into the ground. The city is mostly well know for wine production and it’s river ports. What was most distinguishable was the popularity of the shops along Rue St Catherine. The blazing summer heat couldn’t deter shoppers, buskers and pubs were filled with customers as the Tour De France and rugby were broadcasted.
Evidently, Bordeaux has aquired a taste for Japanese cuisine. On every street corner they was at least one Japanese resturant and more kept opening, seemingly out of nowhere, towards the end of Summer. Of course oriental foods and cultures have increasingly become the ‘new’ fascination during recent years, but never have I seen more Japanese resturants than American franchises in one confined area before. Being a foodie I of course tried a fair few Japanese resturants as well as many tacos from kebab shops. The tacos I’m referring to aren’t the hard tortilla shell kind, a regular soft tortilla wrap is used and can contain french fries, kebab meat, cheese slices and a selected sauce. It just proves that the cheapest takeaway foods/restaurants that aren’t a big franchise can often be one of the best, giving you delicious food in generous quantities.
Bordeaux is quite a socially productive city. I’m not sure about during the colder months, though in late Springtime and Summer there were many art, music and dance events. I attended an outdoor gospel performance which was hosted by a church community and a short art show where art students produced a sequence of graphics designs and animations which were projected onto the front of a building. Furthermore, there were also a variety of jazz performances and a interactive salsa dance lessson/show that celebrated South American cultures.
Bordeaux has it’s perks but has it’s flaws. It’s not stimulating enough with variety even when being so culturally diverse and it’s not the cleanest. Going there wasn’t totally regretable. I met new people, experienced different things and just because it didn’t work out for me, its doesn’t necassarily mean it’s an unplesant place.