31 July 2010


Since we were in the area we couldn't resist going to Cadillac either - a tiny French town which is by mysterious ways the namesake of one of our time's most famous pieces of Americana. Cadillac is in fact so small that you can't even take the train there - but you can take the train to Cérons and in good weather it's certainly doable to walk the approximately 2 km to Cadillac. Arriving that way the last thing you do before arriving in Cadillac is crossing the Garonne river.

The central town is surrounded by the old city walls and in the largest gate there is a list over the worst floods of the river through the latest couple of centuries (given in meters over the normal water level) - for those who weren't there we can report that very few people will be able to keep the head over the surface of the water standing in the gate already when the level reaches 10 meters (which apparently happened last on December 16th 1981).

Apart from the name itself the town is perhaps most widely known for the castle, Château de Cadillac, which over the course of it's 400 years has been the home of French noblemen, a women's prison, psychiatric hospital, and now open to the public for an entrance fee. It was nice to see, but we are a bit sceptical regarding the description of the castle as 'impressive' in our Danish guidebook to Mid-France.[1] Likewise, we are puzzled about the claim of 'innumerable small, cosy restaurants ' from the same book - we had a splendid lunch by the town square, but we didn't exactly spend hours deciding which restaurant to choose...

[1] (C) Politikens Forlag A/S, 2007

29 July 2010

Cows on parade

It turned out that Bordeaux was hosting a cow parade this summer. For the uninitiated we can report that cow parades are a currently increasing phenomenon. Since the first cow parade in Zürich in 1998 more than 70 cities world-wide have hosted cow parades. In a cow parade a number of artists are invited to design cows in realistic size. Some of the projects are chosen for realisation and the cows are placed at various sites in the public space of the hosting city.

For most of the cows the design consists 'merely' of the painting of a standing cow, but quite a few cows also have more interesting shapes.

Of the the 60 cows on parade in Bordeaux we managed to snap shots of about 50 - most of those can be seen in the 'co(w)llage' below. If your internet connection isn't too slow we recommend opening the image in the original size (about 4.5 Mb - done in most browsers by first clicking the image to view the image only, then clicking it again to zoom to the full size)... a few non-authentic cows have found their way into the 'co(w)llage', so try to spot them.

27 July 2010

A whole lotta sand...

Even though the plan was for us to just relax in Bordeaux we couldn't keep ourselves from making a couple of excursions. Especially not when closer reading about the area revealed the presence of the largest migrating dune, Dune du Pilat, in all of Europe on the coast just outside Bordeaux - this was an opportunity we found ourselves unable to say 'no' to.

When one Monday morning it was overcast we knew this was our moment: this had to be the best day for climbing a migrating dune.

First we took the train to beach town Arcachon - picturesquely located by the shallow waters of Arcachon bay.

Here we rented bicycles and rode south along the coast through Pyla sur Mer - some 5-10 km - before suddenly finding ourselves at the northern end of migrating dune. The dune is quite impressive in size, but the otherwise difficult climb up its steep sides is eased significantly by the temporary stairway which is in place during the summer season.

We intended to walk along the top of the dune to its southern end. But we gave up when we'd been walking for about half an hour with no end in sight and the sun beginning to come out.

On the way back we stopped in Moulleau for a couple of local oysters and a nice pot of mussels with fries (so-called moules et frites).

25 July 2010

Vacation in France

IECB (European Institute of Chemistry and Biology), Bordeaux

We had a feeling that this year we needed a relaxing vacation without too many planned activities. Thus, when it was confirmed that Tue was going to a conference in Bordeaux in the beginning of July, we decided it might as well be there we had our vacation - that would also give us an opportunity to practice our French a bit. When the conference was over Lisbeth showed up in southern France and we moved into a cosy little flat we rented for the purpose.

Bridge over the Garonne river

Not surprisingly it is warmer in Bordeaux than in Stockholm - especially when there's a heatwave in Bordeaux. Therefore it was not shocking that it was extremely popular to cool down by the water mirror at Place de la Bourse.

The water mirror at Place de la Bourse

As expected we spent most of our time there reading books, relaxing on the sofa, watching movies, walking around in the old parts of town by the river, relaxing in parks, shopping at the market, cooking, eating a lot (perhaps even too much) cheese and drinking locally produced red wine.

Our 'loot' from the big Sunday market

Stuffed ball-round zucchini - a variation over these two recipes

Of course we added to that a couple of visits to museums - of which we would particularly like to mention the very interesting video exhibition 6 milliards d'autres, shown in impressive fashion in an old submarine base. We also found the time for a couple of day trips, but more about those later..

La base sous-marine - the old submarine base

01 July 2010

Midsummer in the archipelago

This year the Swedish midsummer wasn't till the weekend after the solstice. We managed to get up early Saturday (Midsummer's Day) so we could get on one of the two boats that left from strömkajen in central Stockholm at 8:30. The two boats followed the same route out through the inner archipelago until Vaxholm, although they took turns at stopping for more passengers at the possible stops along the way.

After almost 3 hours we reached Finnhamn - named such because the boats to and from Finland used to stop over there. Currently, Finnhamn has a restaurant, a store (the sign correctly advertises 'affär' in the singular), a hostel and a village of cottages.