Thursday, 26 March 2015

The day Soulac-sur-Mer's Le Signal residence became a work of art

It was a very early start on Saturday March 21st 2015. I woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head and drove 85 kilometres from my home near Bordeaux to Soulac-sur-Mer, with the sole aim of being on the ocean-front at 5:15AM to view a one-off son et lumière performance that made use of the façade of a doomed apartment block, Le Signal.

Le Signal has long been an angular eyesore for some, but was a much-loved home and holiday residence for others and was initially set to be just the first of a number of such buildings in Soulac. Importantly, when it was built, between 1965 and 1970, the ocean was a good 200 metres away. But over the ensuing years, the Atlantic has literally gained ground on this lone apartment block, at a rate of between four and eight metres per year.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Old postcards shining new light on past Invisible Bordeaux subjects

Old postcards have often proved to be the starting point for Invisible Bordeaux investigations. But recent acquisitions have also added an extra dimension to subjects which have already been covered in the past. Here are some examples!

We start our journey on Allées de Tourny, on April 25th 1905, at the official unveiling of a grand monument celebrating the achievements of 19th-century statesman Léon Gambetta. Leading the tributes that day was French president Émile Loubet, although this picture shows the undoubtedly stirring rendition of La Marseillaise by renowned baritone Francisque Delmas.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Lapébie cycling dynasty, the velodrome of Bordeaux and the Entre-Deux-Mers bike path

“Lapébie” is a name which is familiar to cyclists who use the velodrome in Bordeaux or travel along the 54-kilometre cycle path which runs between the city and Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. But who were the Lapébies?

They were two brothers. Roger was born in Bayonne in 1911, Guy following suit in the Landes town of Saint-Geours-de-Maremne in 1916. Over the subsequent years, the family base shifted to Pessac, where their father managed the Médoquine freight station, although their mother reportedly soon moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, in the suburbs of Paris.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Sud Ouest item: "Le stade des Chartrons, patrimoine oublié"

You may remember that the blog recently ran an article about Stade des Chartrons, the Girondins' "lost" football stadium. After generating a healthy amount of interest, local newspaper Sud Ouest got in touch to get the full story on the stadium and the findings of the research carried out with fellow blogger Antoine Puentès (also known as MystickTroy). 

The interview resulted in a nice spread in the February 28th 2015 edition of Sud Ouest, which was also available online. 

Do note there is a factual error in the piece which is entirely of my own making: I got my "B" suburbs muddled up and stated that the topsoil for the football pitch had been brought in from Bègles when it was in fact Bruges (as correctly specified in the original blog articles). Apologies to readers! 

Big thanks to writer Tristan Baudenaille-Pessotto for getting in touch and for bringing this little-known story to the masses! 

Monday, 2 March 2015

New York - London - Paris - Caudéran: the life of the legendary songwriter and singer Mort Shuman

One of the most illustrious permanent residents of Cimetière des Pins Francs, in the Caudéran district of Bordeaux, is none other than the legendary songwriter, pianist, singer and sometime actor Mort Shuman, the man who penned the melodies of some of the most famous songs of the 20th century.

Mortimer Shuman was born in Brooklyn in 1938, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants. The young Mort began studying philosophy at the New York City College but was expelled after a year because he spent too much time playing rhythm and blues piano in local bars, putting to productive use the piano tuition previously dispensed to him by the Julliard School of Music. He switched academic paths and went on to study music at the New York Conservatory, and began writing songs at the age of 18.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Video: Cycling through the Monopoly streets of Bordeaux

Long-time readers may remember my attempt to visit Bordeaux using the local edition of the board game Monopoly as my roadmap.

I thought the adventure deserved to be turned into a video, and so here is a GoPro view of an early-morning non-stop bike ride through the city. Starting out in the Le Lac district to the north of the city and finishing up at Bordeaux Airport in the western suburb of Mérignac, the adventure takes in a wide variety of the city's streets, squares, neighbourhoods and landmarks.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Fontaine des Salinières: supplying fresh drinking water on the waterfront since 1788

The Salinières fountain, also known as Fontaine de la Grave, is one of the landmarks in the city of Bordeaux which people see but rarely stop to look at. That was certainly my case until I recently made a point of inspecting this unusual sight, on the left-bank waterfront more or less in line with the spire of Saint-Michel church.

The fountain was the work of the then chief city architect Richard-François Bonfin and was first installed here around 1787-1788. It was initially fed by the “Font de l’Or”, a spring captured on nearby Rue Carpenteyre and which had previously been channelled to a more rudimentary fountain a little further down the quayside near Porte de la Monnaie.

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