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MONDAY 13TH: BORDEAUX
Having previously arrived in Paris on the Eurostar (our tickets were £30 each way via a RailEurope special offer), for the first day of our Inter-Rail quest we caught the 9am TGV from Paris to Bordeaux. We only chose such an early connection to get the most out of the day in our destination, but the early start and a ride on a packed Paris metro to Gare Montparnasse wasn't much fun. We nearly missed the TGV in fact because the metro we were travelling on chucked everyone off in the middle of the journey for no apparent reason. The ensuing commuter crush caused a row between two women in our carriage, but no punches were thrown and really it was all part of the Paris atmosphere.
We hadn't made a hotel reservation prior to arriving in Bordeaux but were given a room in the first place we tried, the Hotel la Boëtie. Checking in was peculiar: the Boëtie itself was in one street, but when we went there we were directed to the vastly more attractive Hotel Bristol, which seemed to oversee several hotels in the city. There we checked in and were given our key which turned out to be for a room in a third hotel, the Lyon, in another street. It made no odds to us as we'd plumped for the ludicrously budget option of a miniature room for €20 atop an old building with a creaky staircase. The room was clean, dry and warm, but it had a definite rickety, seedy charm to it, complete with a yapping dog in the next room. With TV and shower though it proved excellent value.
Some Bordeaux streets and sights...
During our wanderings we noticed a poster for a band called Fat Truckers, "le premier trio d'electro-punk de Sheffield", an advert for a gym called Spunk Action and a magazine called Poopoo Promo. A cash dispenser told us, after we'd selected its "English language" option, "You have not well entered your pin", although when we had well entered it and taken our cash it did say "Thanks for your coming".
We had a traditional lunch (featuring the biggest entrecôte we'd ever seen) in a good place off rue de la Porte Dijeaux. The three-course menu was just €11 and a demi pichet of house red wine was €2.50. In the evening, having fathomed the launderette in the rue de Palais Gallien, we went for another budget option, a chicken kebab. The kebab shop owner was friendly, spoke funky English and gave us free miniature glasses of hot, sweet mint tea. We sat outside in the street all cosy with our comfort-kebab and hot mint tea while we waited for our laundry to finish down the street. When we went back to the launderette however we found it had shut for the night, with our washing in it...
NEXT STOP: LA ROCHELLE