Before I came to Bordeaux, I talked with some students who had previously studied here, and “bring warm clothes” was in each of their top three pieces of advice.  I always thought “bone chill cold” was a bit of a dramatic over exaggeration of the fall weather here…but let me tell you, it is not a joke.  It is usually below freezing when I leave for school in the morning, and my trench coat and Patagonia fleece unfortunately do not suffice.  All of the California students have become frequent shoppers at UNIQLO near Rue Sainte Catherine, stocking up on all of their thermal shirts and leggings. 

I was really reminded of this cold when I met the students and professors of our gastronomy class early last Saturday morning, as we headed out in an icy-windowed mini bus to a honey farm about an hour outside of Bordeaux.  All of the dewy fields along the way were so pretty, and the couple which runs the farm showed us all of the processes they use to produce honey.  Even better, we got to taste at least eight different varieties of honey, as well as many different types of candies made out of the honey!  It was so delicious. 

We then hopped back in the bus which had fortunately thawed out during the visit, and we went to the old little village of La Réole, to visit the Saturday market and have a few hours to explore the quant and quiet streets.  A couple of students and I got quiches and éclairs, and we enjoyed them on the sunny riverbank.  

After that, we went on to an organic vineyard.  Once again owned by a small family, we walked through the vines and learned all about the techniques they use to make their wine.  I had a little “aha I’m in France moment” when we, twenty American college students and our two professors, were invited into the family’s home to have some snacks!  They were so incredibly hospitable and welcoming; they even let people use the bathroom in the master bedroom.  It was just something I could never imagine happening in the US, and it was truly just such a nice amicable environment.   

I’m happy to say I feel that sense of friendliness a lot here in Bordeaux, and it was something evident again last night at the Bordeaux-USA Club’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Prepared at Le Chaudron, a small restaurant in the center of the city, all of the students from California and all of the members of the club had a Thanksgiving away from home together.  It was definitely interesting to taste a French version of thanksgiving, but it was great…. especially the mashed potatoes full of French butter.  Can’t get much better than that.  

In other news, final exams are coming up in a few weeks, so I’m starting to prepare for those now.  Oooh!  And the Christmas markets have opened up in Bordeaux!!  I cannot wait to explore the little chalets selling gifts, and walk through all the streets of the city decorated with lights!  I will be going to Strasboug, the so called Capitale de Noël, in two weeks, so prepare for some Christmas-y posts!  

Natasha Szombathy studied abroad in Bordeaux, France in 2017: