In the early years of the 20th century in France, the boom in personal hygiene and a desire to swi...

Bègles Piscine Les Bains: rejuvenating Gironde’s oldest swimming facilities

In the early years of the 20th century in France, the boom in personal hygiene and a desire to swim coincided with the rise of art deco architecture. In some cases, the phenomena combined, resulting in places like the “Piscine Les Bains” establishment to be found in Bègles.

Officially opened on December 4th 1932, the pool was the first of its kind to start operating in the Gironde département. It had been commissioned two years earlier by the town’s Socialist mayor, Alexis Capelle, and was executed to the designs of local architect Louis-Alfred Blanchard. Various specialists brought their specific expertise to the decorative mix: a painter named Bime, a sculptor named Vignal, the ceramist brothers Castiaux and the enameller Duvigneau.

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Working on this website has provided a means of discovering some inspiring places and stories. It ...

Camp de Souge memorial: remembering 300 wartime executions

Working on this website has provided a means of discovering some inspiring places and stories. It has also been a way of unearthing some of the more horrific chapters in the recent history of Bordeaux and Gironde. The memorial to be found at the Camp de Souge military base is one such find. 

The Camp de Souge covers 7,000 acres of land to the north west of Martignas-sur-Jalle, some 20 kilometres to the west of Bordeaux. It has been a military base since 1900 and is today home to the French Army’s 13th “Régiment de dragons parachutistes”, providing accommodation and vast areas which are dedicated to training drills and manoeuvres. Souge is also a flight test centre for military and civilian unmanned aerial vehicles.

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[April 2015 update: the boat is now in Arcachon] On the southern edge of Arcachon Bay, the Port ...

Yves Parlier’s hydro-glider: resting in peace in Gujan-Mestras

[April 2015 update: the boat is now in Arcachon]

On the southern edge of Arcachon Bay, the Port du Canal in Gujan-Mestras is home to a number of oyster farmers, fishermen and ship-builders. It is also here that a record-breaking high-speed catamaran conceived by renowned Arcachon-based sailor Yves Parlier has seemingly been left to rest in peace in full view of all-comers. What is more, at the time of writing, it can be yours for €250,000.

Originally unveiled by Parlier in 2004 after six years in the making, the boat is the “hydraplaneur”, a 60-foot (18.28m) carbon fibre “hydro-glider”. She was designed by a partnership known as Aquitaine Design Team and manufactured by Chantier Naval de Larros (CNL). The boat’s main innovations were its twin rig with a mast on each hull (unlike on trimarans where the central hull supports the mast), and the “stepped” hull design, inspired by the use of this shape on seaplanes enabling the aircraft to take off and land at high speed.

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The annual Journées européennes du patrimoine take place on September 15th and 16th. A number of...

Journées du Patrimoine 2012: the Invisible Bordeaux selection!

The annual Journées européennes du patrimoine take place on September 15th and 16th. A number of places previously featured on Invisible Bordeaux will be open to the public, while others are on my list of things to see and write about!

Here is but a small selection of the places to see in Bordeaux itself, bearing in mind that throughout the region a whole host of fascinating venues are taking part in the event!

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Perhaps the most surprising sight in the quiet residential town of Saint-Aubin-de-Médoc is a 1/5 s...

Diamant A: a little bit of Space on Earth in Saint-Aubin-de-Médoc

Perhaps the most surprising sight in the quiet residential town of Saint-Aubin-de-Médoc is a 1/5 scale model of a 1960s Diamant A rocket positioned in the middle of a roundabout.

The model, which was funded by the space technology company EADS Astrium and manufactured by Matisa, was unveiled by the local mayor in November 2009. It celebrates the contributions made by engineers in the town to the Diamant A project, which formed part of President Charles de Gaulle’s plans to develop an independent nuclear defence system at the height of the Cold War.

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On Rue Charles-Domercq, a side-street adjacent to Saint-Jean railway station, a 1929 building con...

Centre de tri postal: no longer processing rail mail

On Rue Charles-Domercq, a side-street adjacent to Saint-Jean railway station, a 1929 building continues to reign supreme: the former Bordeaux postal sorting office.

The structure was designed by the Toulouse-born architect Léon Jaussely (1875-1932), who had been appointed chief architect of the postal services in 1914 and is also famed for his extravagant “Hall de la Dépêche du Midi” in Toulouse and the “Cité Nationale de l'Histoire de l'Immigration” in Paris.

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