Friday, May 15, 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015 - Bordeaux

Christie leaves from Bordeaux at the crack of dawn on Monday. Since we're 2.5 hours from Bordeaux, we're dropping her at a hotel tonight with a plan of visiting the city today. The weather is sunny and promises to be hot, so off we go.

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

Looking back from the Grand Théâtre toward Place de Quinconces.
Building on left is 1788 Maison Gobineau, la Maison du Vin de Bordeaux (House of Wine)
In an earlier post (April 30, I think) you can see photos of  Clark and Dave tasting wine inside.
In this wine sampling house, you pay a fee and then can choose which wines you'd like to taste.

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.

13th century Royal portal of St. André's Cathedral. It is located in an unusual position, on the north side of the nave, because
the church was built into the city walls at the time. A portal such as this would have been at the west end of the church (at the end of the nave) 

15th century Tour de Pey-Berland, built just cuz they could
next to St. André
The Porte Cailhau a 1496 fortified gate built mostly for show as its defensive features were a bit passé at this time of the early Renaissance.
Porte Cailhau

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
One of the most fun-looking spots is at Place de la Bourse (former stock market buildings) where a large park stretches along the river. A "Miroir d'Eau" (water mirror) is the perfect family playground for a hot Sunday afternoon. Jets of water periodically spout and the water level is never more than an inch or so deep, so everyone can play in the water.

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?
After dropping Christie at her hotel, we head home, arriving very late, very tired, and full of memories of Bordeaux.

No comments:

Post a Comment