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Please refresh the page and retry. M y challenge was to go to Bordeaux and not think about wine. That would be like going to Melton Mowbray and not eating pies. Wine had always been the thing: tasting, analysing, discussing, writing, judging. Yes, judging. Some of those medals you see on bottles once resulted, in part, from my vote.
That indicates just how phenomenally reliable the whole wine competition process is. So, enough about wine. To highlight the advantages of a high-speed train, I arrived by car. As with Vitruvian Man, the proportions are exactly right. In the 18th century, they ripped out medieval squalor and replaced it with stately open space and neoclassical expressions of belief in the power of colonial riches.
A sense of entitlement floats on the air; this is evidently a capital city in search of a country to rule. I always want to go around ordering slovenly pedestrians to smarten up. Then I see my reflection in a shop-window, and hurry on. As I now did, down a side-street to the Mama Shelter hotel. From the outside, it looked like the regional HQ of an insurance company.
Inside it confirmed Mama Shelter as, presently, my favourite hotel chain: groovy enough for groovers, without casting the old adrift.
Bedrooms are comprehensible, the entire bed headboard constitutes the reading light, and the bar-restaurant is a cross between a school canteen, beach club and coffee shop. Otherwise, full marks. I lit out. A stroke of luck. Its northern wing was full of renaissance yearning, beseeching and Virgins. In the southern wing — dealing with 19th and 20th centuries — I fell among the animal paintings of Bordeaux-born Rosa Bonheur.