We arrive at lunch time and stop off at the tourist office for a walking tour and guide. We eat lunch in a huge park surrounding Place de Quinconces divided into all sorts of areas. The Place has a huge monument, called "Liberty Breaking her Chains" to the Girondins killed during the 1793 Reign of Terror in the governing chaos after the French Revolution.
There's a green arbor of shady trees, a tram stop, benches where Christie and I eat our lunch, and what looks to be a permanent "brocante" - flea market.
Chuck is in heaven. He has wanted to find a flea market ever since arriving and now we've stumbled onto a huge one. We pass an hour browsing and both Pat and Chuck find something to buy.
|Chuck at the flea market (Dave took this photo with the monument sticking out of Chuck's head.|
Notice how nicely Chuck can balance it on his hat.)
|Pat and Dave at the flea market.|
We drop the backpack off at the underground car park and start our walking tour of the city. The tour goes from A-Z and we made it to all of the sites, but not without several stops for rest and re-hydration.
Bordeaux presents a face that is primarily 18th and 19th century which belies its long history as an important French city. Most of its early architectural history has been lost to wars and redevelopment. It is the 6th largest city in France and owes much of its importance to its position at the mouth of the Garonne River as a port city whose importance in the Bordeaux wine industry is unparalleled. When last I saw it (some 30+ years ago in the rain), it was all black due to pollution. They've obviously had a campaign to clean at least the old center of the city and it's looking pretty spiffy now. Very lively and inviting.
The tour starts in earnest at the Grand Théâtre, Bordeaux' National Opera House (1780)
|National Opera of Bordeaux is housed in the Grand Théâtre|
Next to the Opera House is a modern sculpture that I find very intriguing. Called "Sanna" by Jaume Plensa, it is cast bronze done in 2013 as part of a series of 7 feminine figures done for Bordeaux. Only 2 of the figures were cast (the sign doesn't say why, but money could be part of it).
|Sanna by Plensa|
We see churches, official buildings, pedestrian streets, walls, and lots of cobblestones which are hard to walk on even in good walking shoes. We take a shade and drink break at a café in front of St. André Cathedral. While the cathedral dates from the 12th-16th centuries, the square around it was remodeled in the 19th century.
|We couldn't go in to visit the cathedral because people were lined up waiting for the doors to open for a concert.|
|15th century Tour de Pey-Berland, built just cuz they could|
next to St. André
The Grosse Cloche however is the last remnant of 13th century military defense.
|Grosse Cloche (Big Bell)|
A 1775 bell for Clark - It is rung 5 times per year: Jan 1 (New Year's), May 8 (WWII Victory in Europe Day), July 14 (Bastille Day), August 28 (WWII Liberation of Bordeaux) and Nov 11 (WWI Armistice Day)
|Grosse Cloche - 13th century city gate|
|Miroir d'eau with spire of St. Michel behind|
|fountains of Miroir d'eau in action|
|Wet fun for a sunny day. You can see the pedestrian path in front of and river beyond the fence|
And here are a few images of things that amused me as we traversed the old city of Bordeaux
|Do you think the rich merchants of Bordeaux wanted to impress us with their wealth and standing?|
|This gas pump was tucked into a grungy corner along the path. Though not ancient, it is a reminder of days gone by.|
|This steel and wooden beam structure was just to the left of the Fina pump above.|
We think it's keeping the shell of the building from collapsing, which would likely pull down buildings attached to it.
|Who says the Bordelais don't have a sense of humor.|
This car extends out the parking garage above these store fronts.
A warning, perhaps, to pay attention to your driving?