Family Weekend in Bordeaux
Coffee will never outmatch wine in this city, this region and most definitely in this country, but that does not mean that the locals do not like a good cup of coffee. Although the local children try their first sip of wine sooner rather than later and often share a glass of wine diluted with water at the dinner table with their parents, their coffee experience definitely comes much later. Despite of that, coffee spots here show more care of the children than you would expect.
While the parents slowly sip their coffee in any of the local top speciality coffee shops, children can enjoy lemonade or home-style ice-tea. Those who have a love for coffee and at least a little bit of love for their kids (just kidding!) have two main destinations in mind in this city. One is “Horace” where adults can treat themselves with a cup of coffee and maybe a sandwich or a piece of cake and children can enjoy home-style lemonade of the day or some ice tea. The other one is „l’Alchemiste”, which I consider the most stylish and probably the best coffee spot in the area. Here you can enjoy lemonade made from fruit grown not farther than in a 40km radius of the shop – it will astound you. If the latter offers both lemonade and a selection of cakes along with coffee, then “Horace” during weekends turns into place where you should stay away from cappuccino (unless you enjoy some nice and flat 5-minute foam, that is), instead – go for anything else, here you will find the best breakfast in town. And don’t forget to book a table. Overall, both of these spots offer excellent coffee – espresso, cappuccino, syphoned or filtered coffee. The possibilities are endless and you will never get bored, because how can you get bored of perfectly made coffee.
If you want to see a smile and a dusting of powdered sugar on your child’s face (and, let’s be real, on yours as well), then a visit to „Dunes Blanches chez Pascal” is in order (by the way, as I discovered couple of years back, it is right opposite the „l’Alchemiste”). The locals would probably say that you haven’t really tried the true taste of Bordeaux, if you haven’t been to „Dunes Blanches”. Simple chouquettes filled with the lightest crème chantilly and, even though, they are sold in every other boulangerie in France, nothing, truly nothing compares to the Pascal’s version named after the white dunes of the Bordeaux region.
If you are on a family trip, no child will let you live down not finding an ice-cream spot. In truth, we could happily live on without all other things – the clouds, the puff pastries, the bread and everything else, but there simply must be ice cream. Bordeaux is not renowned for its ice cream spots, just the one that is all you need - „La Maison du Glacier”. Here you will not find piles upon piles of ice cream in all the colours of the rainbow. You will only find something bio and seasonal and a line that never seems to end, and nothing can compete with the after-dinner lines around 21.00 when it seems that the entire city is here.
Even though anyone who loves canelés, knows that there is nothing more famous than “Canelés Baillardran”, a little local bird told me that even though they are good, there is something even better and if you want to find it, all roads lead to „Le Boulanger de L’Hotel de Ville”. And I must agree. In addition, here you will find not only canelés but also bread, sandwiches, croissants, quiche, cakes and everything that includes a lot of flour and maybe some sugar, butter and textures that simply melt in your mouth. You can eat here or take away and after a long walk, nothing makes the kids happier than the classic jambon fromage sandwich with Emmental cheese and fresh ham stuffed in a crunchy baguette pulled from the oven just mere hours ago. And, of course, as a finishing touch – canelés, here, and, in the name of tradition, from „Canelés Baillardran” as well (you will find these stores all over the city).
Even though Bordeaux is filled to the brim with places to eat and where everyone indeed eats, there are not too many places to truly enjoy while eating, especially with children. It’s not like the locals don’t like children, but you can’t say that the French love to see children in public spaces, and for this reason „Belle Campagne” is a true gem not just in terms of food, but also the attitude. But, I’ll be honest, even if they didn’t like children, we would still show up, because this is one of the few restaurants that offers truly seasonal, truly local, truly delicious and fresh food. The menu changes every day or at least couple of time a week, everything is made from locally grown and produced products (not further than 250km away) and the food – it is magnificent. Fries with aioli, steak with béarnaise sauce, duck hearts with pureed peas, seasonal vegetables of the day. The dishes are small and the philosophy is to share. The favourite discovery for the kids was the cucumber and apple juice, but for me – everything I tasted. Booking is a must.
It is always a good idea to enjoy a little bit of sophistication, an extra layer of cream, butter, choux dough and champagne, at least in Bordeaux, and when you get that kind of craving, you need to look for the most classical of the classics – „Miremont Pâtisserie”. While the children can hold on to their ice cream cup, letting the treat slowly melt in their mouths, the adults may enjoy a glass of champagne and Paris-Brest. All you need to make the entire family happy.
The kids will be able to run around while you enjoy oysters and a glass of local wine. They will steal a couple of fries or a piece of bread and later finish off a large bowl of the world-famous chocolate mousse from „Mousses & Chocolats by Hasnaâ Chocolats”. You will get some yogurt and cheese for breakfast, maybe a slice of pizza and go home or for a walk. Or maybe you won’t buy anything and visit „Cité du Vin” (if your children have already been introduced to wine culture). You can find all of that and more in the newly opened and the most delicious place - “Halles de Bacalan”.
If you are living somewhere between “Halles de Bacalan” and Jardin Public you can’t say no to croissants, pain au chocolat, chausson aux pommes from „La P’tite Boulangerie Notre-Dame” and, of course, a walk along little Notre-Dame Street, which, as it turns out, is not famous only for its smaller version of the Notre-Dame cathedral, but also its antiques and tiny boutiques and little streets with so few cars that the children will enjoy a little bit of running in the middle of the road. But, if we return to food – this, in my opinion, is the best boulangerie in Bordeaux. From A to Z.
Author: editor of food magazine Četras sezonas, cookbook author and food blogger Signe Meirāne.