All the subjects covered by the website over the past twelve months have once again been a delight to compile and research. But here ar...

2014 in review: five personal favourites

All the subjects covered by the website over the past twelve months have once again been a delight to compile and research. But here are five subjects which proved particularly interesting when peeling the layers away. Click on the titles or associated pictures to read the items!

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The time has come to finish off the calendar year with a couple of items that look back on some of the features that ran on Invisible Bor...

2014 in review: the year’s most-read Invisible Bordeaux items

The time has come to finish off the calendar year with a couple of items that look back on some of the features that ran on Invisible Bordeaux over the past twelve months. This first set compiles the five most-read articles. Click on the titles or associated pictures to read the full items! 

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The latest issue of Voyage , the official Liverpool John Lennon airport magazine, features a double-page feature about Bordeaux. The que...

'Blogging the World' item in Voyage, the Liverpool John Lennon airport magazine


The latest issue of Voyage, the official Liverpool John Lennon airport magazine, features a double-page feature about Bordeaux. The question-and-answer session is part of a regular series of interviews with bloggers who have gained inside knowledge of their city and, yes, for the Bordeaux piece they looked to... me!

You can therefore read what I say about the best places in and around Bordeaux to get a sense of history, to take in an unforgettable view, to be surprised, to take in a concert... and even where to go if you're in a romantic mood. Loyal readers will be pleased to see that I also squeezed in a reference to Cacolac (though sadly not in the paragraph about getting romantic). 

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This bronze statue, which can be found on Place Montaud in the heart of the Bastide quarter, depicts one Joseph Marie Edouard Chabrely (1...

Dr Chabrely: La Bastide's unforgettable “médecin des pauvres”

This bronze statue, which can be found on Place Montaud in the heart of the Bastide quarter, depicts one Joseph Marie Edouard Chabrely (1835-1895), a doctor who was a cornerstone of this right-bank community in the 19th century.

For 39 years, Dr Edouard Chabrely provided the local working classes with medical care, paying close attention to each individual’s ailments and, according to the plaque in front of the statue, “knew the right remedy to heal each wound”. Chabrely was also a member of the local council until his death. By then he had earned not only plaudits but also various titles and honours, much to the embarrassment of this naturally humble man.

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To celebrate the blog’s third anniversary, Invisible Bordeaux teamed up with Mollat, the city’s most famous independent bookstore… enabl...

Invisible Bordeaux 3rd anniversary competition result


To celebrate the blog’s third anniversary, Invisible Bordeaux teamed up with Mollat, the city’s most famous independent bookstore… enabling one lucky reader to win a copy of the marvellous “Nouveau Viographe de Bordeaux”!

Here then is the prize draw in all its glory, including cameo appearances from Bono and the official Invisible Bordeaux cat.


Click here if video does not display properly on your device.

About the prize: Kindly donated by the good people of Mollat, Robert Coustet’s “Nouveau Viographe de Bordeaux” is an authoritative 560-page encyclopedic guide to the stories behind every one of the city’s streets and squares. Packed with fascinating historical insight and often surprising architectural information, the book is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to get under the city’s skin. Click here for further information.

And of course, massive thanks to bookstore Mollat for partnering with Invisible Bordeaux for this competition! You can of course visit them on the internet (www.mollat.com) and hook up with them via various social networks… I particularly recommend their fantastic Instagram account!

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A few months ago Invisible Bordeaux ran a set of pictures merging old postcards with modern-day shots, the end montages produced with th...

More pictures merging past and present views of Bordeaux

A few months ago Invisible Bordeaux ran a set of pictures merging old postcards with modern-day shots, the end montages produced with the expert help of talented work colleague and friend, Anthony Poulachon.

Here then is another selection of pictures that combine past and present, juxtaposing buildings and landmarks that have changed – or no longer exist – with the environment as it looks today.

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After recently visiting the 45th parallel north marker in Saint-André-de-Cubzac , it suddenly dawned on me that a remarkably unique latit...

Puynormand’s point 45°N 0°: where the Greenwich meridian and the 45th parallel north intersect

After recently visiting the 45th parallel north marker in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, it suddenly dawned on me that a remarkably unique latitude/longitude confluence point lay just 60 kilometres to the east of Bordeaux: the intersection between the 45th parallel and the Greenwich meridian.

By doing a little bit of research, I realized that visiting confluences of the like had become a pastime for enthusiasts around the world who then posted their stories and photos on the www.confluence.org website. I was therefore able to read about other visits to the 45°N 0° confluence and saw that, well, there wasn’t much to be seen there at all.

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To celebrate the blog’s third anniversary, Invisible Bordeaux has teamed up with Mollat, the city’s most famous independent bookstore… e...

Celebrate Invisible Bordeaux’s 3rd anniversary and win a copy of “Le Nouveau Viographe de Bordeaux”!


To celebrate the blog’s third anniversary, Invisible Bordeaux has teamed up with Mollat, the city’s most famous independent bookstore… enabling one lucky reader to win a copy of the marvellous “Nouveau Viographe de Bordeaux”!

To have a chance of winning the coveted prize, simply answer the following question, submitting your response before Sunday November 30th:
 
[COMPETITION NOW CLOSED!]

A draw will take place on Monday December 1st and the name of the winner will be announced shortly afterwards on the blog!

About the prize: Kindly donated by the good people of Mollat, Robert Coustet’s “Nouveau Viographe de Bordeaux” is an authoritative 560-page encyclopedic guide to the stories behind every one of the city’s streets and squares. Packed with fascinating historical insight and often surprising architectural information, the book is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to get under the city’s skin. Click here for further information.

And of course, massive thanks to bookstore Mollat for partnering with Invisible Bordeaux for this competition! You can of course visit them on the internet (www.mollat.com) and hook up with them via various social networks… I particularly recommend their fantastic Instagram account!

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The suburb of Le Bouscat has long been renowned for its racecourse, its residential quarters, its high street shops and, a-hem, its coun...

Le Bois du Bouscat: a cultural walk in the woods


The suburb of Le Bouscat has long been renowned for its racecourse, its residential quarters, its high street shops and, a-hem, its countless car dealers. But this sign greets visitors to one of the latest additions to the town’s portfolio of potential outings: le Bois du Bouscat.

The Bois du Bouscat provides a landscaped walk in the woods which was two years in the making and was officially opened in June 2013 by local mayor Patrick Bobet. The project was the result of the acquisition of woodland which stretches along one flank of the racecourse (indeed, it was previously best-known as Bois de l’Hippodrome) and next to the high-rise blocks of the Lyautey estate.

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We are in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, some 23 kilometres to the north of Bordeaux, on the right bank of the Dordogne… and coincidentally on th...

Saint-André-de-Cubzac’s Montalon windmills and 45th parallel marker

We are in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, some 23 kilometres to the north of Bordeaux, on the right bank of the Dordogne… and coincidentally on the 45th parallel north, mid-way between the Equator and the North Pole. This part of town is known as Montalon, a large mound which rises 73 metres above sea level and identified in the 18th century as the ideal location to build a number of windmills.

Today, five of these distinctive circular constructions can still be seen, although maps produced in the 19th century record the presence of as many as ten such mills. Three of the surviving structures have been incorporated within private properties – a couple even appear to be the natural extensions of some lucky homeowners’ living quarters. The other two have been partly restored although both were closed when I was there: one provides a unique rooftop vantage point for a panoramic overview of the site, while the other has become an astronomical observatory which is run by the local council in conjunction with an association.

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When shooting the footage that formed the basis of the Invisible Bordeaux “View from Pont d’Aquitaine” video clip , I was reminded of a s...

The mysterious rig with no name on the river Garonne

When shooting the footage that formed the basis of the Invisible Bordeaux “View from Pont d’Aquitaine” video clip, I was reminded of a story which was recently covered by local newspaper Sud Ouest: the mystery of the disused iron rig on the Garonne.

The rig in question can be seen near to the left-bank Bacalan district of Bordeaux, more or less mid-way between the Chaban-Delmas lift bridge and Pont d’Aquitaine suspension bridge. When the subject was initially raised by Sud Ouest, journalist Jean-Paul Vigneaud asked more questions than he provided answers about what he called the “phantom of the Garonne”, a structure “where nobody goes and which nobody is interested in” and which now resembles a “mid-river heap of scrap iron” (un tas de ferraille au beau milieu de l’eau).

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Every day, thousands of vehicles cross Pont d'Aquitaine, the impressive suspension bridge over the Garonne river that connects Bordea...

Video: the view from Pont d'Aquitaine

Every day, thousands of vehicles cross Pont d'Aquitaine, the impressive suspension bridge over the Garonne river that connects Bordeaux and Lormont. 

However, only cyclists enjoy the luxury of being able to take in the stunning view over the city, the river and the surrounding area. So, with public interest at heart, I have gone along to the bridge on my bike, camera in hand, and this brand Youtube clip shows what can be seen!

Click here if video does not display properly on your device.

Of course, loyal readers will remember that Pont d'Aquitaine was the subject of a standalone article some time ago.

Finally, if you would like a longer, closer look at the two panoramic shots which featured in the video, here they are:

The view looking south towards Bordeaux.
The view looking north towards Bassens and the Médoc.

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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 kilometr...

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. 

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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 ...

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.

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Faded hand-painted adverts and signs, so-called ghost signs, have often featured on the blog . And among the interesting subsets which re...

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!

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Towards the top end of Rue des Remparts, the charming, gently sloping pedestrianised street which connects Rue Porte Dijeaux and Place Pe...

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.

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A few months ago I published an item about the little-known Parc Rivière , a fascinating expanse of greenery which lies between the town...

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:

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The annual European heritage days take place on September 20th and 21st. As ever the event will provide a unique opportunity to get behin...

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

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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 Bahu...

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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In central Bordeaux, three bronze orientation maps (or “ plans-reliefs ” in French) have been positioned at strategic locations. I met ...

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.

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

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:

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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 (1...

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!

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In the previous Invisible Bordeaux item , we explored the compact botanic gardens which have been located in the grounds of the Jardin Pu...

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.

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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 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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Unbelievable as it may seem today, in the early 1950s the city centre of Bordeaux hosted four Formula 1 Grand Prix races, attracting driv...

When Bordeaux city centre became a Formula 1 racing track

Unbelievable as it may seem today, in the early 1950s the city centre of Bordeaux hosted four Formula 1 Grand Prix races, attracting driving aces including Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and Maurice Trintignant.

Motor racing had grown in popularity throughout the first half of the 20th century, with a number of urban circuits holding Grand Prix events. In Gironde, the earliest races to be organised by Automobile Club du Sud Ouest (ACSO) were held in the Parc Bordelais throughout the 1920s, followed by a one-off Grand Prix in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles in 1932. 

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This mosaic interpretation of the city of Bordeaux’s shield of arms can be seen in the Parc Floral and is one of many designs to be sp...

All about the city of Bordeaux's coat of arms (and logo!)

This mosaic interpretation of the city of Bordeaux’s shield of arms can be seen in the Parc Floral and is one of many designs to be spotted throughout the city. But what do its various components represent? Let’s work our way down from the top.

The blazon is topped off by an azure segment comprising the distinctive silhouette of the fleur de lys, the stylised lily which was the symbol of French royalty. As we shall see further down the page, this part of the coat of arms has not always featured!

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Loyal readers of the blog will know that before-and-after photos are a recurring feature. Meanwhile, there is currently a growing trend f...

Merging past and present views of Bordeaux

Loyal readers of the blog will know that before-and-after photos are a recurring feature. Meanwhile, there is currently a growing trend for old and new views to be merged so, with the precious technical help of colleague and friend Anthony Poulachon, Invisible Bordeaux brings you this selection of pictures that mix and match old postcards with modern-day shots.

We start on Cours de l’Intendance and this attempt to bring first- and second-generation trams together! Look out for the charming selection of adverts on the wall over to the right. The moustachioed tram driver seems very focused on his job. Note the horse-drawn carts parked over to the right-hand side.

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The small town of Saint-Savin, 50 kilometres to the north of Bordeaux, formed the backdrop to one of the shortest and strangest chapters ...

Saint-Savin's road to Argentina 1978 and the attempted kidnap of Michel Hidalgo

The small town of Saint-Savin, 50 kilometres to the north of Bordeaux, formed the backdrop to one of the shortest and strangest chapters in the history of the FIFA football World Cup: the attempted kidnap of France’s team coach Michel Hidalgo.

The year is 1978 and, for the first time since 1966, France’s national squad have qualified for the World Cup finals. The tournament is to be held in Argentina which two years previously suffered a military coup, when Isabel Perón’s government was toppled. Argentine army senior commander Jorge Rafael Videla has since installed a merciless dictatorial regime.

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In the Saint-Genès district of Bordeaux stands a mansion house with Victorian traits which wouldn’t look out of place in the UK. Today it...

Exshaw’s mansions: little Britain in Bordeaux and Cussac-Fort-Médoc

In the Saint-Genès district of Bordeaux stands a mansion house with Victorian traits which wouldn’t look out of place in the UK. Today it is the regional head office of a trade union but the building is still known to many as Hôtel Exshaw, in reference to the man who commissioned its construction: the original owner Frédérick Exshaw. And the mansion has a virtual twin in the Médoc!

The Exshaw family were wealthy traders in cognacs and “eaux de vie” spirits who had permanently relocated from their native Ireland to Bordeaux in 1805. Frédérick was born in 1826 and, around the early 1880s, he commissioned architect Louis Michel Garros (best-known in Bordeaux as the man behind the 1865 fountain on Place du Parlement) to design a mansion inspired by the houses that were all the rage in Britain during this Victorian era.

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People who go googling for “free walking tours of Bordeaux” can rejoice: the four walking tours conceived by Invisible Bordeaux are now a...

Invisible Bordeaux guided walking tours now available as free PDF downloads

People who go googling for “free walking tours of Bordeaux” can rejoice: the four walking tours conceived by Invisible Bordeaux are now available as free PDF downloads.

The tours, which were previously available as applications for iPhones and iPads, aim to provide visitors (and locals!) with interesting itineraries through the city that take in a host of sights of architectural, historical and cultural significance.

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Let's rewind 100 years to 1914 and Place Jean-Jaurès in central Bordeaux (known at the time as Place Richelieu), where the lens of th...

What happened to the statue of Sadi Carnot?

Let's rewind 100 years to 1914 and Place Jean-Jaurès in central Bordeaux (known at the time as Place Richelieu), where the lens of the postcard photographer has been pointed at the focal point of the square, the bronze statue of late president Sadi Carnot.

The statue was inaugurated in September 1896, two short years after President Carnot’s death. It was the result of the combined work of the sculptor Louis Ernest Barrias, the architect Jean-Louis Pascal and the Barbedienne foundry. The project was funded by public donations and by grants allocated by the city council and the State ministry for “Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts”. In all, the bill came to some 42,567 francs.

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Cours Gallieni was historically one of the main arteries into and out of Bordeaux, forming the main road to Pessac and the primary esc...

Ghost signs galore on Cours Gallieni


Cours Gallieni was historically one of the main arteries into and out of Bordeaux, forming the main road to Pessac and the primary escape route to Arcachon. As such it was no doubt a highly strategic spot in terms of advertising potential and many vintage wall-painted signs and ads can still be seen today. Let me take you down because we’re going to... Cours Gallieni to view its ghost signs galore! 

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Meet Jérôme Mabon, creator of the États Critiques movie review blog and occasional contributor to Bordeaux cultural webzine Happe:n . Jé...

Accessible Bordeaux: how wheelchair-friendly is the city?

Meet Jérôme Mabon, creator of the États Critiques movie review blog and occasional contributor to Bordeaux cultural webzine Happe:n. Jérôme also happens to be physically disabled and kindly agreed to provide me with a personal guided tour of Bordeaux as viewed through the eyes of a wheelchair user.

We arranged to meet up at one of Jérôme’s favourite (and accessible) bars, the legendary Chez Auguste on Place de la Victoire, where we discussed Bordeaux’s ranking in the annual “Baromètre de l’Accessibilité” as drawn up by the Association des Paralysés de France. The city currently lies 13th in the table which is topped by Grenoble, Nantes and Caen: “Bordeaux has its shortcomings and there is definite room for improvement, but I do think that position is a bit harsh. On the whole, I’m satisfied by what has been done in the city.”

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The scene is Arcachon, in the latter years of the nineteenth century, and local baker Sylvain Dornon (pictured left) has taken it upon hi...

Sylvain Dornon : the Arcachon baker who stilt-walked from Paris to Moscow

The scene is Arcachon, in the latter years of the nineteenth century, and local baker Sylvain Dornon (pictured left) has taken it upon himself to popularise the bygone Landaise tradition of walking on stilts. To do this he organises demonstrations and performances, then opts to stilt-walk up the Eiffel Tower, before venturing from Paris to Moscow. But let’s go back to the start…

The use of stilts, or “échasses”, was widespread throughout the Landes from the 18th century onwards. The wooden implements (and their leather foot-straps) were primarily employed by shepherds as both an easy way of manoeuvring through marshy land and as a means of extending their field of vision when watching over their flock of sheep. Other stilt users in the Landes were messengers and postmen, keen on time-saving and maintaining a steady step. But as the wetlands became drier, due to the work of Nicolas Brémontier and previous blog subject Jules Chambrelent, so the use of stilts began to die out. 

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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-...

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.

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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 ...

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. 

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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 ...

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.

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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...

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.

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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...

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.

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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...

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…

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Invisible Bordeaux was one of a number of contributors to a lengthy report about the city broadcast by national TV station TF1 during th...

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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A mansion in Lormont, just off a narrow road which runs alongside the A10 motorway, forms the backdrop to what is undoubtedly one of the ...

Musée National de l’Assurance Maladie: showcasing France’s healthcare system in Lormont

A mansion in Lormont, just off a narrow road which runs alongside the A10 motorway, forms the backdrop to what is undoubtedly one of the most unusual attractions in the Bordeaux area: le Musée National de l’Assurance Maladie.

The museum, which opened in 1989, is the only one of its kind in France. It provides an extensive historical overview of the country’s national healthcare system for three target audiences: schoolchildren and students, the general public, and staff of the CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) healthcare fund institution itself.

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If you follow Invisible Bordeaux on Twitter , Facebook or Instagram , you may already be aware of the fact that the blog was featured th...

Invisible Bordeaux featured in Direct Matin Bordeaux7

If you follow Invisible Bordeaux on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you may already be aware of the fact that the blog was featured this week in local newspaper Direct Matin Bordeaux7.

The interview provides a thumbnail introduction to the story behind the website and its philosophy, as well as pointing readers towards other likeminded online resources! 

Big thanks to Direct Matin Bordeaux7 journalist Emeline Marceau for getting in touch and for producing the item! 

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We find ourselves in a run-down part of a Leclerc shopping centre in the Chartrons district of Bordeaux. The building in question used to...

Gare Saint-Louis: once a railway station, now a deserted shopping mall

We find ourselves in a run-down part of a Leclerc shopping centre in the Chartrons district of Bordeaux. The building in question used to be one of the city’s railway stations: Gare Saint-Louis.

Invisible Bordeaux first encountered Gare Saint-Louis when researching the cycle path which runs all the way to Lacanau. The cycle path replaced a railway line which previously departed from Gare Saint-Louis. The station’s other destinations included Bordeaux Saint-Jean and the Médoc wine-growing area.

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These are difficult times for independent bookstores, but one shop which continues to weather the storm is Bradley’s, the only English-la...

Talking past, present and future with Bradley’s Bookshop

These are difficult times for independent bookstores, but one shop which continues to weather the storm is Bradley’s, the only English-language bookshop in Bordeaux and one of the city’s most respected literary outlets. On a suitably rainy Saturday morning, I met Anne-Françoise Mazeau, who owns and runs the business, and long-time attendant Juline Druillole to learn more about Bradley’s past, present and future.

Bradley’s was founded in 1983 by a couple of expatriate Australians, Pauline and Paul Carpenter. They moved into premises on Place Gambetta and, instead of simply calling it “Carpenter’s”, opted to give the brand new bookshop Pauline’s maiden name: Bradley. The Carpenters spent 20 years at the helm of the store until their retirement in 2003, when the business was taken over by Englishman Terry Vincent.

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My Invisible Paris and Invisible Lyon counterparts and I regularly look to old postcards as a source of inspiration for subjects which ...

The Bordeaux waterfront... as featured on old postcards

My Invisible Paris and Invisible Lyon counterparts and I regularly look to old postcards as a source of inspiration for subjects which end up being featured on our blogs. Therefore, without really trying, I appear to be slowly amassing a bona fide collection of interesting pictures of Bordeaux as it used to be.

The following all show various views of the waterfront, demonstrating how much it changed throughout the 20th century, and how much it has evolved in recent years with the city “reclaiming” the quayside for pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers, and installing the popular “Miroir d’Eau” attraction.

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A name that seems etched into the collective consciousness of La-Teste-de-Buch, on the southern ridge of the Bassin d’Arcachon, is that o...

Jean Hameau: the La Teste doctor who paved the way for Pasteur

A name that seems etched into the collective consciousness of La-Teste-de-Buch, on the southern ridge of the Bassin d’Arcachon, is that of Dr Jean Hameau, whose research paved the way for the scientific achievements of Louis Pasteur.

Hameau was born in La Teste itself on October 5th 1779 in a small house located on what is now Rue du 14 Juillet. His father, André, was a local tailor who had married Jeanne Labouroir from Dax, further south in the Landes area. Aged just 16, Hameau began his medical studies under the guidance of one Dr Desquives in Ychoux, a few kilometres to the east of Biscarrosse. Two years later, in 1797, he departed for Paris, pursuing his studies at École de Santé de Paris where he spent four years and contributed to an initiative known as the “Centre de la Vaccine”.

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