Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Gare d’Orléans: the railway station turned multiplex cinema

The weather was hot on Sunday July 17th 1853 as the first train from Paris pulled into Gare d’Orléans (later also known as Gare Bordeaux-Bastide), some thirteen hours and seven minutes after leaving France’s capital city. The journey may have been long but it was far shorter than the only other option available at the time: a 44-hour ride in a horse-drawn stagecoach.

The travellers were understandably tired but undoubtedly happy to have arrived at their south-western destination… although they would still have to cross the bridge to reach Bordeaux proper; at the time the right-bank Bastide quarter was technically part of Cenon. The Bastide district had already made giant leaps forward with the opening of the Pont de Pierre in 1822, and now the new station would help it blossom further.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The forgotten wartime camp in Eysines

We are in a residential quarter in the suburb of Eysines, barely 300 metres from the town’s parish church. The unusual thing about the quiet neighbourhood is that it was the location of a camp which operated throughout the Second World War.

The history of the camp is poorly documented. By far the most complete account I was able to find is on the Porte du Médoc website, where a chronological overview is coupled with some eye-witness testimonials. Sifting through the information available there and elsewhere, here are the basic facts. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Parc Rivière: the central park with a difference

During my time documenting the Bordeaux area, I’ve done my best to uncover some of the city’s best-kept secrets, and Parc Rivière is one such example of the lesser-known jewels in the Bordeaux crown.

This ten-acre landscaped park (that’s four hectares) lies between the bourgeois houses of the Tivoli quarter and the high-rise blocks of the Grand-Parc district. It is, in effect, land which has been reclaimed from a bourgeois mansion built in the 19th century, the ruins of which form the centrepiece of the park.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Every street tells a story: my afternoon with Bordeaux 2066

Over recent months I’ve become a loyal reader of one of the city’s most likeable blogs: www.bordeaux2066.com. The concept is simple: the two authors have taken it upon themselves to visit and document every street, road, cul-de-sac and square in Bordeaux, using an Excel spreadsheet to choose at random which of the 2,066 addresses is next on their list.

The 20-something Bordeaux-based urban explorers are Vincent Bart (also known as Vinjo, brought up in Gradignan in the city’s suburbs) and Pierre-Marie Villette (or Pim, hailing originally from Lille). They launched the website in June 2013 and have so far visited just over 20 of the city’s streets; if they were to continue visiting one street every week, it would take them 39 years to complete their task.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

An update on Stade Bordeaux Atlantique, the next big sporting arena

Shortly after launching this website I headed over to the Lac district of Bordeaux to get an idea of where the city would be building its new 43,000-seater arena, set to form the backdrop to the endeavours of footballers, rugby players and international music stars in the years to come.

At the time it took a great deal of imagination to picture a stadium rising above the trees but now, a little over a year ahead of delivery, the skyline has indeed changed beyond recognition.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Les grands magasins : Bordeaux department stores past and present

For many locals, a day spent in downtown Bordeaux is synonymous with a shopping trip in the Rue Sainte-Catherine quarter, but if you peel away the uniform corporate logos there are some interesting stories to tell.

With this is mind, fellow blogger MystickTroy and I went in search of the department stores of yesteryear with the aim of understanding how strong the influence of the shops of the past continues to be. The account of our quest, which we have jointly published on our respective blogs, starts out at Galeries Lafayette…

Monday, 10 March 2014

Invisible Bordeaux: as seen on TF1

Invisible Bordeaux was one of a number of contributors to a lengthy report about the city broadcast by national TV station TF1 during the lunchtime news programme on Sunday March 9th. 

In the feature, I demonstrate my thorough knowledge of Bordeaux's extensive history by referring to some medieval cobblestones and a wall as being "very old" (the kind of expert analysis which loyal readers have come to expect).

It was a bad hair day (I've since been to the hairdresser's), my name is misspelled in the caption, but all in all it was an interesting experience and such prime-time exposure is very much appreciated, so big thanks to TF1 and to journalist Erwan Braem for getting in touch!
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