Saturday, 18 October 2014

In honour of Lesparre-Médoc's Tour d'Honneur

What is 30 metres high, 12 metres wide, made of stone and dates way back to the 14th century? The answer, if you happen to be 65 kilometres to the north of Bordeaux in Lesparre-Médoc, is the magnificent “Tour de l’Honneur”.

The 6-level tower (other than the ground floor, there are four levels each comprising a vaulted room, plus a rooftop terrace), is the sole surviving section of the even grander “Château de l'Honneur de Lesparre”, parts of which even predated the 14th century. The original fortified castle comprised three further towers and was a pivotal means of defence for the Médoc and Gironde Estuary, the area being of strategic importance during medieval times. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

From Blanquefort to Gare Saint-Jean: the view from a suburban train

Over the years, my views of Bordeaux have been gained either riding a bike, as a pedestrian, behind the wheel of a car, or from the seat of a bus or tram. It struck me that one vantage point I hadn’t really explored was that of the suburban train.

The time had therefore come to report to Blanquefort railway station and buy a €4.30 ticket for the 35-minute journey into Bordeaux’s Gare Saint-Jean. The big question before the train arrived was would I spot anything new from this rear-window vantage point? The answer was not exactly a resounding “yes” or a definite “no” but somewhere in-between: it would simply provide a sample of the city’s suburban living quarters and landscapes, some of which we’ve almost stopped noticing.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Signs through the times: spotting the traders of the past

Faded hand-painted adverts and signs, so-called ghost signs, have often featured on the blog. And among the interesting subsets which regularly appear on the Invisible Bordeaux Instagram account are the faded painted signs above old stores and workshops.

Here are a few examples of the Instagrammed signs that have therefore made it through the times. All are located in central Bordeaux and, other than a couple of exceptions, I think that none of these companies continue to operate - certainly not out of these outlets. But if you know otherwise or can provide information about any of the featured names, then please get in touch!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Charles Lamoureux: the Bordeaux-born conductor whose orchestra lives on

Towards the top end of Rue des Remparts, the charming, gently sloping pedestrianised street which connects Rue Porte Dijeaux and Place Pey-Berland, a discreet plaque can be seen on the wall of a three-storey building. 

The words are virtually illegible, given that they have been written in white on a white background. But that shouldn’t be enough to put us off deciphering the text: the plaque celebrates the birthplace of Charles Lamoureux, the illustrious violinist and conductor who did much to popularise the music of Berlioz, Wagner and Handel in France.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Video: Parc Rivière, Bordeaux's park with a difference

A few months ago I published an item about the little-known Parc Rivière, a fascinating expanse of greenery which lies between the townhouses of the Tivoli quarter and the high-rise apartment blocks of the Grand-Parc district. 

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

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).
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