Friday, 2 October 2015

Inside Bordeaux's Jewish Avignonnais cemetery

Regular readers may remember the recent account of the morning spent exploring the Portuguese Jewish cemetery on Cours de la Marne, one of three final resting places for Jews in central Bordeaux. Of the others, the cemetery on Cours de l’Yser is still in use, whereas burials at the tiny “Cimetière des Avignonnais” on Rue Sauteyron, a mere 50 metres from Place de la Victoire, ceased more than 200 years ago.

The Avignonnais cemetery is rarely open to the general public, and can only usually be visited during specially-organised guided tours, so when I spotted it would be accessible as part of the city’s European Heritage Days programme, I decided to head over to the site to take in a low-key tour of my own.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Chapelle de la Villa Algérienne: Cap Ferret’s oldest and most unusual place of worship

Cap Ferret’s oldest place of worship is the curious Sainte Marie du Cap, also known as Chapelle de l’Herbe, but most often referred to as Chapelle de la Villa Algérienne.

The "Algerian Villa" in question once stood barely 100 metres away from the spot where the chapel can be found, on the Bassin d’Arcachon-side waterfront of the affluent presqu’île, near to the picturesque fishing village L’Herbe.

The full story goes back to 1863, when the successful civil engineering entrepreneur Léon Lesca partnered with his brother to purchase 27 hectares of remote, untouched land (L’Herbe had yet to be founded at this time). Lesca had recently returned from North Africa to his homeland (he was born in La Teste-de-Buch in 1824) as a rich man, having overseen projects such as the construction of the port of Algiers and of the railway line that connected Constantine and Philippeville. 

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Journées du Patrimoine 2015: the Invisible Bordeaux selection!

The annual European heritage days take place on September 19th and 20th. Hurrah! As always, there are hundreds of options available, making it difficult to know where to start. 

So, to make things easier for you, Invisible Bordeaux has been looking closely at what’s on offer in the city and here is a small selection of some of the more unusual and eye-catching visits... while the full list of venues and visits - in Bordeaux and beyond - can be found on the official event website

Chapelle et cloître du CROUS

CROUS is the structure set up to support and guide students in their quest for accommodation, grants and work. Surprisingly, the organisation is housed in premises which also feature a “neogothic” cloister and chapel that formed part of a convent and later a seminary. The visit is a new and welcome addition to this year’s Journées du Patrimoine programme!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

In conversation with Martine Lohiague, Eysines hairdresser and Kapla enthusiast

When working on the recent article about the wooden construction toy Kapla, I briefly met Martine Lohiague, who for more than a year now has built and exhibited her Kapla productions in the window of her hairdressing salon in Eysines. I later arranged for a short-back-and-sides and while Martine was cutting my hair she told me a bit more about her unusual pastime.

How did it all start?

When I took over this hairdressing salon in Eysines, I decided to revamp the interior design. I wondered what activities I could provide for children. First I considered buying some toy cars, and then I thought of Kapla which ticked all the right boxes: it’s made of wood and is fun and interesting.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Following the Eau Bourde from its source to the Garonne (via Cestas, Canéjan, Gradignan, Villenave d’Ornon and Bègles!)

It was Vincent Bart, my blogging counterpart over at the rather fabulous Bordeaux2066, who suggested we team up once again. His idea was for us to get on our bikes and follow a stream from end to end, the stream being the Eau Bourde, which flows some 23 kilometres from its source in Cestas until it reaches the Garonne in Bègles. The challenge was an interesting one and I was more than willing to be his travelling companion.

We met up on Saturday August 1st in Vincent’s childhood hometown Gradignan and cycled southwards towards the point that we had identified as the Eau Bourde’s discreet starting point, near a roundabout on the Nationale 10 road in the Labirade district of Cestas. But after weeks and weeks of warm weather, the source was dry and instead we had to make do with exploring some enormous pipes that ran under the busy thoroughfare. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Visiting Château d’Agassac: wining, dining, plenty of history and lots of pigeonholes

Châteaux in the legendary Médoc wine-growing area are not renowned for their accessibility, but one establishment which is seeking to reverse that trend is Château d’Agassac in Ludon-Médoc. As well as being arguably one of the prettiest châteaux on the Médoc circuit, it is also capitalising on its rich history to draw in visitors… and has recently opened a restaurant which provides a good excuse to stay that little bit longer.

Historically, the château’s roots date back to the 13th century. At the time a wooden fortress stood here, erected by local dignitary Gaillard de Gassac to protect the city of Bordeaux from the enemy (i.e. the French, as the area was under British rule at the time). It is said that the fortress was destroyed and rebuilt as a stone castle, and that the land was given to Gaillard de Gassac as a reward for his efforts, his title becoming Seigneur d’Agassac (agasse being the Gascon word for magpie; Médoc lords were frequently given the names of birds).

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Video: Top 10 essential sights and landmarks in Bordeaux

When recently preparing a weekend away in one of Europe’s more exotic capital cities, my wife and I found it useful to check out Youtube clips to get an idea of what to expect. It then occurred to me that Bordeaux deserved similar treatment, so here is my back-to-basics video guide to the ten essential sights and landmarks to take in during a stay in the city.

Of course, purists will regard this as going against everything the blog stands for, given that the website’s aim is to uncover the little-known sights and stories to be enjoyed in and around Bordeaux, but please forgive me as Invisible Bordeaux strays into Visible Bordeaux for all of four minutes!

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