To my English-attuned ears, the name of the street sounds somewhat silly, but I believe the “Ha” came from a 1600s temple nearby that belonged to an order of nuns. The narrow street barely runs three blocks and was about that distance from the apartment we rented in Bordeaux. We were on the prowl and hungry, and I laughed that the reason we settled into the last table available on the sidewalk of Orta was the sign on the corner seemingly forbidding any kind of safe exit from Rue du Ha.
Above, Cathedrale-Primatiale Saint-Andre de Bordeaux
It seems as though almost a dozen streets lead directly to the grand plaza surrounding Saint Andre Cathedral, and all are rewarded with stunning views of its portals, the spires topping its bell towers or the adjacent Pey-Berland Tower. Now well disguised by later French Gothic transformations, the original Romanesque church dates to around the year 1000.
This church was the site of the wedding of 13-year-old Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) and the man who not long after their nuptials became king of France, King Louis VII (1120-1180) – making her queen. That marriage wasn’t a happy-ever-after story, and its failure led her to wed a much younger man, Henry of Anjou (1152-1189), who also would make her a queen, but of England. Will not distract you from the cathedral with the fascinating history of how her marriage to Henry II made the Aquitaine region of France part of England for three centuries.
Above, “breakfast” platters of seafood at Chez Jean-Mi
Marche des Capucins is the city’s oldest public marketplace, meriting the moniker of the “Belly of Bordeaux.” The abundance and quality of its seafood, produce and cheese stalls inspired numerous chefs to open booths there in the past decade, but, while we were in Bordeaux, COVID and August vacations temporarily pared down their numbers.
Seafood remains prominent. The most renown platters are found at Chez Jean-Mi. One has to arrive early because it both gets crowded and closes before 2 p.m. most days. This forces many a foodie-pilgrim to venture forth for raw oysters for breakfast. As wonderful as a succulent raw oyster can be, I just couldn’t talk myself into eating it first thing, and there definitely was no room at the counter by lunch time.