Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Boulevardier-style shopping

Competing with the reflections of the building across the street represents a challenge for the bucktoothed bunny trying to sell guitars. But he obviously caught the attention of the photographer reflected below.

A breeze, a forgotten summer, a smile, all can fit into a storefront window.

Dejan Stojanovic, a Serbian poet and journalist

We found Bordeaux about the most pedestrian-friendly city we have ever wandered around, which meant we had ample time for window-shopping as we ambled about. People who have downsized twice have little interest in acquiring anything beyond calories, so it’s an amusing, inexpensive past-time. Often reflections capture our attention as much as the displays.

They claim Bordeaux has more restaurants per capita than any other city in France, and I don’t doubt it. But walking around, it also appeared as though Bordeaux might also be the barber shop capital of the world. They were everywhere.

While one of us might have dawdled by music stores, one of us was a food watcher. Some windows were not seductive to us. No matter how many opportunities we passed for sampling France’s most popular fast food – “tacos” – we weren’t biting. A rose might smell as sweet with another name, but calling those tacos is just wrong. New name, and I’d try it. Maybe.

Other windows succeeded. So well that I did do more than window shop; I purchased calories. They are pretty easy to carry home; airlines weigh baggage not individuals. At first, I craved only my nostalgic college-day favorite, strawberry tartes. Then, I remembered how good French apple tartes are. But, wait, then there are the regional specialties.

In the late 1600s, egg whites were used to purify wine. Bordeaux produced a lot of wine, which meant enormous amounts of yolks. Someone started donating yolks to a nunnery, where the thrifty sisters combined them with flour to bake dense cakes known as caneles. In the 20th century, it dawned on a chef to add rum and vanilla, caramelizing the outside of the miniature bundt-shaped cakes while leaving their innards soft and dense. A more recent patissserie innovation is represented by dunes blanches, or white sands – sugar-coated choux pastry filled with luscious fresh cream. We failed to sample all the regional specialties, but Ira Szmuk offers an ample sampling via Lost in Bordeaux.

An organized attorney?

Okay, time for my grand award for a window failing to serve as a recommendation of the talents of the owner. Would you want to hire an attorney who presents the storefront on the right as an indication of the organizational skills he or she will demonstrate in handling your case? (And, yes, I admit, my desk always looked this bad. But, you couldn’t see it from the street right next to my name plaque.)

An artistic ratcatcher?

Then, my quirky favorite on the left, making deratisation appear almost fashionable on Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges.

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