It was an honor to attend my first French wedding this past weekend in a beautiful town 30 minutes from Bordeaux in Rions, France. I went with no expectations and was delightfully surprised. Think unlimited champagne and non-stop dancing.
We took the brand new double decker Express TGV from Paris to Bordeaux which was fully equipped with USB plugs, outlet charger and a desk light for reading. Needless to say, it was a very short 2 hour train ride as we watched two episodes of Stranger Things and arrived shortly after.
After a brief stop at our hotel to change into our party outfits, we headed to the local Mairie “City Hall” to meet the family and friends of the bride and groom. Inside the Mairie, the local Mayor officiated the wedding ceremony as we watched the bride and the groom sign the marriage contract along with their two witnesses. ***Usually, the witness is the best man and maid of honor but anyone with a French identification card can be a witness. A photographer is allowed in the room along with the rest of the guests.
After the Oui “I do” and a round of clapping, we proceeded outside where we were provided some confetti to sprinkle the newly wed couple. More pictures were taken and then we headed over to the Reception.
Typically, the Reception and the Dinner are held in the same place with the Reception taking place for several hours. Group pictures are taken before the start of the Reception and we were offered soft drinks while we waited for the bride and groom to finish their photos. We started the Reception with an endless supply of champagne and non-alchohlic drinks to officially get the party started. Foie gras, salmon tartare, mini burgers and BBQ skewers were just a few of the things we sampled during the Reception hour. There was also a beer keg and a candy station which was a nice touch. ***At some weddings, guests that are not invited to Dinner will slowly make their exit during the Reception as it is completely normal to attend the Mairie and Reception and not be invited to the Dinner. Luckily, everyone that came to the Mairie were also invited to the Dinner portion.
Around 9pm, we were ushered inside the Dining Hall. The Salle was beautifully decorated with a high ceiling and walls made out of stone which was very typical french. The tables were covered in white cloth with a glass vase of lilies per table. Each seat had a party favor and I received a cool neon bracelet that glowed while I danced! Some trivia cards were scattered on the table with a placard of what we were having for dinner.
Before we started our meal, we were instructed to the dance floor where we line danced and welcomed the bride and the groom into the room.
Once we were back at our seats, we received our entree “appetizer” course and a bread basket of petite baguettes for the table. We had a bottle of sparkling water, flat water and two bottles of wine to share for the table. The champagne was brought out somewhere between the main and dessert course.
Each of the courses were spread over 3 hours with some light entertainment and dancing. A typical french tradition is to have performance skits featuring the best friend of the bride or groom in lieu of speeches. Games are also popular and one of the games required some of us to retrieve a cigarette lighter, a shoe, a belt and a lipstick. I have to admit it was pretty hilarious and fun to participate.
Promptly at midnight, a tiered “Croquembouche” cake made of individual cream-puffed pastries were brought out with a sparkler cake topper. The rest of the night proceeded with dancing and drinks. By 4am, we were seriously parched for water and decided to head back to our room but the party continued on until 7am.
The next morning we enjoyed a typical french breakfast with croissants, tartines and juice/coffee overlooking the garden.
We checked out of our hotel at 11am and proceeded to explore the beautiful city of Bordeaux. As this was my second time back in this beautiful city, I was excited to walk by my favorite spots and to have an awesome brunch.
Most of Bordeaux is walkable with no underground metro. There is a tram that goes around Bordeaux and runs every few minutes. Taxis are available from the Gare de Bordeaux St. Jean. Personally, I would advise you to walk as there are some amazing architecture to see along the way as you explore the city.
Things to See in Bordeaux
Miroir D’eau is one of those cool picture moments that you just have to come capture yourself. The weather was cloudy with a light sprinkle on Sunday but just enough light to get a great shot. Head to Place de la Bourse on foot or take the tram that stops right in front from the Gare de Bordeaux St. Jean.
Grosse Cloche is a magnificient clock tower and a well known landmark of Bordeaux. It is displayed on the city’s coat of arms and dates back to the 15th century. The clock display has an unusual semi-circular dial and should not be missed when you are walking around the city.
Quartier Saint-Michel is a beautiful square with the Saint Michel Church built between the 14th-16th century. The markings and architecture is quite distinguished and there is a weekend market right in front to the church where you can buy small trinkets.
Sunday Food and Drink
A lot of the restaurants are closed on Sundays but you could always find a few good places for Sunday brunch.
Koeben – Swedish style unlimited buffet for €33 pp. If you like raw fish, cold cuts and whole grain breads, this is a must stop. Reservations are available and brunch sittings are typically 11:30am and 1:30am on the weekends.
Plume – Typical brunch style food with muesli, avocado toast and charcuterie. The bread is exceptionally delicious but expect a long line after 12pm. Come early if you want to grab a seat.
Books & Coffee – American style cafe with eggs and bacon. Excellent coffee and the burgers are a big hit. Great coffee and yummy desserts.
We were sad to leave this beautiful city and back to our hectic lives in Paris. But happy to have enjoyed a great 2 day trip in the South of France.