To get the full story, Invisible Bordeaux teamed up with fellow blogger Antoine Puentès, also known as MyStickTroy, who had suggested the subject as a potentially interesting one to pursue together. To add an extra layer, a request had also come through from David Ledru, the webmaster behind the marvellous Scapulaire.com site (the definitive online database and guide to the history of the Girondins de Bordeaux), who wanted to track down information about the buildings which had taken the stadium’s place, on behalf of the descendants of Olivier Lhoste-Clos, a former chairman of the club.
So, where do we start? The Girondins football team’s story began in 1919 when they were formed as part of an “omnisports” club whose roots can be traced back to 1881, when the Société de gymnastique et de tir des Girondins was founded (hence the “1881” which features on the football club’s badge these days). They soon became known as Girondins Guyenne Sport (in reference to the 1924 merger with Guyenne Sports from the Saint-Augustin district).
|Top left: September 1938 picture of the Girondins sporting their brand new "V" design shirts, possibly at the inaugural game at Stade des Chartrons (source: Scapulaire.com). The other two pictures show games in progress at the stadium. Source top right: Sud Ouest via Histoire Caychac, bottom: Scapulaire.com (note the 1930s advert for the website).|
In 1940, the club merged with Association Sportive du Port (an anchor was added to the club’s badge at the time), although this was mainly because, in this wartime period, Girondins sportsmen were called on to operate as pompiers for the Port of Bordeaux. The newly-enrolled members of the club therefore avoided being deported or being assigned to tasks such as the construction of the Atlantikwall. (It might also be noted that during the War, Italian and German soldiers stationed at the nearby submarine base made use of the Chartrons sporting facilities.) Meanwhile, back on the pitch itself, les Girondins won the French Cup in 1941 after a “series” of finals (the cup’s format had been somewhat disturbed by the country’s situation). The club wouldn’t win the cup again until 1986!
|Cup finalists again in 1943. Standing to the right, partly obscured, is club chairman Olivier Lhoste-Clos (source: Scapulaire.com)|
The Girondins continued to train at the stadium, which was no longer used for top-level matches, until 1962 when a major change was to occur. The “omnisports” club purchased the Domaine de Rocquevieille in Mérignac and transformed it into a sports complex that comprised the football team’s training quarters. The Chartrons stadium was no longer needed and was passed on to the city of Bordeaux, who had grand plans for the 16,681 square metres of land that were freed up: it would be an ideal location to rehouse some of the working class inhabitants who were about to be evicted from the Mériadeck district, which was on course to be transformed from a seedy neighbourhood of échoppes into the city’s ultra-modern high-rise administrative and business quarter.
In 1962 the stadium was therefore demolished and, shortly afterwards, made way for two high-rise estates: Résidence Chantecrit and Résidence des Chartrons. The latter can be reached via a short cul-de-sac off Rue Leybardie which has been given the name Cité Lhoste-Clos, in memory of the man who had been at the helm of the Girondins between 1934 and 1945, and, as noted above, had been instrumental in the construction of the stadium.
|The area as seen on GoogleEarth, and the approximate past location of the stadium.|
|This aerial view, captured by reader Vincent M with the GoogleEarth History application, shows the same area as it was in the mid-20th century. The stadium is clearly visible.|
|And this incredible aerial view, spotted by reader Gaël Barreau on Géoportail, shows the scene in 1947. Look carefully and you'll see there are even footballers on the pitch (but no spectators). Note the empty swimming pool bottom left... Could that be another potential blog subject?|
|The view at Cité Lhoste-Clos, and the scene where the football pitch used to be.|
Over on Rue Chantecrit, a “City-Stade” urban sports pitch does at least provide an opportunity to photograph one of the apartment blocks from a sporting environment. With Antoine we wonder whether this is where a coal processing factory was located when the Stade des Chartrons was in its prime. Over time, layers of coal dust from the factory were deposited on the stands, later causing some commentators to jokingly refer to the stadium as Stade des Charbons (coal).
The coal, like the stadium, is long gone, the district has continued to develop, and the Girondins have gone on to flourish, becoming one of the country’s most successful outfits. In 1981, the football team became a standalone entity, setting up their own training facilities at Domaine Bel Air, a château in Le Haillan. Meanwhile, the Rocquevielle sporting facilities continue to be used by the “omnisports” club to this day.
|Top: the Rocquevieille complex in Mérignac, which is still home to the Girondins omnisports club, and bottom: the Le Haillan headquarters and training facilities of the modern-day football team.|