France is the world’s most visited country. With wonderful architecture, a world class culinary scene and delicious wine, there’s much to appreciate. The French spend more of their money on food than all other Europeans. Listed here are 5 must eat meals in Bordeaux, though it’s tempting to write just one word…canard…because the French love indulging in duck in a variety of ways.
1) Foie Gras
Sorry vegetarians, perhaps no dish makes PETA members cringe more than foie gras because of debatable feeding practices. Foie gras is a delicacy typically made from the enlarged liver of a duck, or sometimes a goose (“oie” in French). Either bird’s liver can be served whole or in seasoned pate style, which is the cheaper version.
Foie gras doesn’t sound fantastic but when done well is tastes like a delicious meaty butter, which is why it is so sought after. It’s expensive because additional labor is involved to produce it, though it can be cheaper in France than elsewhere, which is why you should eat it there (just don’t waste your time with the canned stuff). And while the foie gras industry is particularly targeted by animals rights organizations, it’s no worse to eat a gavanche fed duck than it is to eat an American Tyson chicken (America’s largest chicken farm).
2) Magret de Canard
More duck! This is a plump duck breast steak, taken from ducks specially bred for their foie gras livers. You’ll see this on restaurant menus everywhere and wonder why it costs roughly the same as a good steak. You’ll understand why when you try it. When a good cut is grilled properly and cooked medium rare, it melts in your mouth and tastes comparable to an excellent quality venison steak. This is possibly my favorite dish of the must eat meals in Bordeaux!
3) Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame
There are far worse things in life, but these are prime examples of why it sucks being lactose intolerant. Sure, there is lactaid, but there is one terrible side effect to lactaid…it doesn’t work. Anyways, a properly done croque monsieur is basically the best fried ham and cheese sandwich you’ll ever eat. The sandwich is typically made with emmentel or gruyere cheese (never plastic flavored yellow cheese). The cheese is also lathered on top. The croque madame is the same concept, except it comes topped with a fried egg as well. Fun that they are both a closed and open faced sandwich at the same time! Suffice to say they are eaten with a knife and fork – very dignified.
Where to Stay in Bordeaux?
Book hotels in advance that offer free cancellation! That way if your plans change, you can cancel without penalty.
We stayed at the Ibis Bordeaux Centre – Gare Saint Jean, which is a pretty good option for budget travelers. It’s no frills, but it was comfortable enough for an enjoyable visit to Bordeaux.
Families especially will find the best deals on short term apartment rentals. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here and receive $40 credit off your first stay! It’s great to have a fridge to store delicious French cheeses and other goodies! Be sure to book apartments with consistently good reviews.
4) Crepes: 5 Must Eat Meals in Bordeaux
Crepes are one of the most popular concepts to be exported from France (the concept of American “French Fries” actually originated in Belgium, where half the nation speaks French). You can get a wonderful crepe in a cafe, but it’s also excellent street food in France. You’ll frequently see a stall with a large round griddle, with a man constantly pouring fresh pancake batter and spreading it out thin. A typical French street crepe is pretty simple but delicious. They’re typically flavored with sugar or strawberries.
5) Sausage and cheese picnic!
So stereotypically French, it’s a must to visit one of Bordeaux’s great markets (or at least a grocery store) and select from an incredible assortment of sausage and cheeses. Plus it’s excellent value. Consider taking your picnic down to the Jardin Public or Le Miroir d’eau on the La Garonne river, both in the center of the city. These are both wonderful and relaxing places to enjoy one of your must eat meals in Bordeaux. Bon appetite!
Day Trip to Saint Emilion
Saint Emilion is a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled among rolling French vineyards. If you don’t want to drive, it’s a 35km train ride from Gare St. Jean train station in Bordeaux to Gare de Saint Émilion. The train takes around 40 minutes each way. Consider taking a day tour to Saint Emilion in a comfortable minibus if you don’t want to stress over details. It’s one of our favorite towns in Europe.
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