Friday, 12 September 2014

Journées du Patrimoine 2014: the Invisible Bordeaux selection!

The annual European heritage days take place on September 20th and 21st. As ever the event will provide a unique opportunity to get behind the scenes of many fascinating places, or else stay out in the open and enjoy some fine guided walking tours.

Once again there are hundreds of options available, making it difficult to know where to start. So to make things easier, Invisible Bordeaux has been through everything on offer 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

Saturday, 6 September 2014

From the Allied War Cemetery of Talence (to the fields of Flanders)

We are in the suburb of Talence and looking at a sign outside a small, carefully-tended plot of land at the end of a cul-de-sac, Rue Bahus. The sign reads “Commonwealth War Graves” although a more precise description would be “Allied War Graves”.

The tiny cemetery, which is located next to Talence’s municipal graveyard, is the final resting place for 18 men: five Americans, ten Canadians and three Britons (or Australians).

Wooden crosses mark the graves of the five Americans, who died at various dates between 1918 and 1945: Edward Simacys (1918), Anton Rivas (1919), Abraham Hamde (1920), Charles Carroll (1928) and Joseph Bouchard (1945).

Friday, 22 August 2014

Sculptor François Didier, the plans-reliefs of Bordeaux and Bages, and the Jardin de Casaque

In central Bordeaux, three bronze orientation maps (or “plans-reliefs” in French) have been positioned at strategic locations. I met up with François Didier, the sculptor behind these popular hands-on works of public art, to talk about the pieces, about a similar project rolled out near Pauillac and about his private sculpture garden at the northern tip of les Landes.  

The plans-reliefs project was initiated around 2007 by Philippe Prévôt, who is in charge of “patrimoine historique” (heritage sites) at Bordeaux Office de Tourisme, as well as being a renowned author of articles and books about the city’s lesser-known stories. Prévôt had been inspired by a 3-D map in Florence, Italy, and thought his friend François Didier would be the right man for the job, as the sculptor had already produced scale models of towns in the past. The idea soon gained the support of the city council who would go on to commission the works in partnership with the Office de Tourisme.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Video: Tracking the river Devèze from Mérignac to Bordeaux

Some time ago I published an item about the Devèze and my attempt to track the now mostly-underground river from Mérignac airport all the way into central Bordeaux. 

I recently went back and this time filmed the adventure, which you can view in this brand new Youtube clip:

Friday, 8 August 2014

The bust of Carl Linnaeus, in the words of artist Lucie Geffré

One of the focal points of the Right Bank botanic gardens, as featured in the previous blog item, is the bronze bust of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). The Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist is regarded as the father of modern taxonomy and one of the initiators of modern ecology.

To get the full story about the bust, I got in touch with Lucie Geffré, the talented Bordeaux-born, Madrid-based artist who was commissioned to produce the piece. Over to you, Lucie!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The botanic gardens of Bordeaux 2/2: the Right Bank gardens

In the previous Invisible Bordeaux item, we explored the compact botanic gardens which have been located in the grounds of the Jardin Public since the 19th century. This time we are in the Bastide quarter on the Right Bank of the Garonne to visit the bigger, more ambitious and, yes, slightly crazier botanic gardens which were first opened in 2003.

Built to the designs of landscape gardener Catherine Mosbach and architect Françoise-Hélène Jourda, the 4-hectare gardens (that's 9 acres or 6 football pitches) are made up of a succession of distinct zones, taking visitors through a wide variety of scenery, greenery and ambiences.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The botanic gardens of Bordeaux 1/2: Jardin Public

Today, the city of Bordeaux boasts not one, but two botanic gardens, and the joint endeavours share a history that stretches way back to the 17th century. Today, we are braving the rain to witness the older of the two structures, which lies in the grounds of the Jardin Public.

It is said that the city’s first gardens, initially known as “Jardin des Plantes” were founded in 1629 as a formal collection of indigenous plants cultivated for medicinal, aromatic or culinary purposes. The Jardin enjoyed a number of different locations throughout the city until 1856 when it moved into the Jardin Public, the extensive parc à l’anglaise in central Bordeaux. 
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