Maggie Lohmann is a senior international relations major at Kent State University. During the fall 2015 semester she studied abroad in Bordeaux, France. As part of her ISV Magazine series, she reflects about her experience in the city, the pros and cons of her weekend trips around the region, and the differences between the educational systems of France and the United States.
Maggie will also reflect about her experience being in France during the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. This article can only be seen in the spring 2016 issue of ISV Magazine. Click here to subscribe.
To begin her series, Maggie shares what you need to know about Bordeaux, France.
Location Spotlight: Bordeaux, France
Located in the southwest region of France, Bordeaux is a city that has been transformed from the “Sleeping Beauty” of French civilization to a bustling city with many opportunities for students, tourists and wine enthusiasts alike. Before the turn of the 21st century, Bordeaux was considered a “sleepy” city, a city that did not have the infrastructure in place for a large tourist population. However, the city went through large renovations projects by the historic districts and riverbanks and was then officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. These changes transformed the city from a working population to a bustling metropolis. As an exchange student from September to December 2015, I was able to enjoy this bustling metropolis of Bordeaux, France in its entirety.
Bordeaux is a city most well known for their expansive industry in wine-making, and that was evident from the moment I stepped off the plane into vineyards surrounding the airport and advertisements for wines covering the airport walls. However, with the demand and increase of the public university programs within the city (more than 25% of the population consists of university-age citizens), Bordeaux has many great opportunities and spaces for study abroad students and French students alike.
The lively attitude of the city is illustrated by the bustling downtown. With the weekend riverbank markets, to the squares full of collegiate bars to the parks filled with family, there is always something to find in Bordeaux. As a student living in Bordeaux, I, of course, had my favorite places to visit, socialize, eat, and learn. In the list below, I describe my favorite places of the city.
- To Socialize: La Victoire is one of the main social spots in Bordeaux, specifically for the Universite de Bordeaux students, French and foreign alike. With a circle of eight restaurants and bars, this main square is considered the main location for a night out in Bordeaux, with many more bars just a block or two away. You can find trivia nights here (The Grizzly Pub), sports games turning into a night of dancing (El Bodegon), and American classic rock playing all night long (La Grange).
- To Eat: L’Entrecôte is a necessary restaurant for all Bordelais visitors. The visit is made very simple, as there is only one meal on the menu. With one restaurant in every metropolitan
French city, there is consistently a line wrapping around the building for this meal of simple salad, fries, and a large cut of entrecote steak. Though the sole menu option does not leave much for choice, this meal was easily the best meal of my four months in Europe.
- To Visit: The city of Bordeaux is split into two riverbanks by the Garonne River, and the riverbank near Bordeaux’s city center is a necessary stop in Bordeaux. The refurbished walkway alongside the river features “Miroir d’Eau”, the France’s largest reflecting pool (see photo above), a weekly Sunday-morning market, and different cafés and restaurants all along the riverbanks. The quays perimeter downtown Bordeaux, so it is within walking distance to famous monuments and shopping. On the weekends, the riverbank is filled with families shopping, running groups, and friends socializing- a lovely sight for all Bordeaux visitors.
- To Learn: As in stereotypical Bordeaux fashion, there is much to learn on the subject of wine in the city. There is the “Musee du Vin et du Negoce”, a wine museum located in the heart of the wine merchants’ quarter. There is an interactive exhibit, with guidebooks in almost every language. At the end of the tour, you will be treated to an (English or French spoken) summary of the Bordeaux wine region, along with two samples of the local wine. For a price of only 10 euros for adults and 5 euros for students, a visit to this museum is necessary.
Maggie has much more to share, so stick with ISV Magazine to learn more about her study abroad experience in Bordeaux!