Archive for the ‘Bordeaux’ Category


Bordeaux, 14 July 2017. Part 2, a bit later than planned.

The important national holiday in France was commemorated in Bordeaux by a formal military parade on the Quai des Chartons, while the city was out in its tens of thousands. These are a few of the pictures I took. I wasn’t early enough to be at the front of the main event. Many citations were read, medals awarded and not just to the military but to members of the fire service and police.

I wasn’t sure that a picnic was a good idea on the rather threadbare grass possibly coated with who knows what.

A couple of them did succumb to the heat, which was 30ºC during the two hours or so they were standing there. Or, as in the case of those below, sitting in full ceremonial uniform.

After the presentations, there was a kind of drive by and march past.

After the event, local bikers and those in uniform were seen exchanging words on the merits of their various mounts – these were customs men with BMW’s – and they nicely let children sit on them and have their pictures taken by mum and dad.

Bordeaux, 14 July 2017 – Part 2.

Tagged: on July 19, 2017 by cubsur51

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Visit to Lormont, 14th July 2017

In Bordeaux,France on July 17, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Lormont-Bas is the northern destination of the Batbus, Bordeaux’s scheduled ferry service along the river. Lormont is a suburb of the city, on the right bank. Population is around 20,000 these days, it has declined slightly in recent times. It is a nice wooded area with some parts of some antiquity, with the Chateau of Lormont dating from 1060, the church from 1451 and many of the buildings in the older part of town from the 17th century.

Wikipedia article in English –

Beyond Lormont are areas of docks and industry.

I took a random walk around for a couple of hours. These are some of the pictures I took. First is the plaque on the side of the viaduct that carries the Paris – Bordeaux railway through the town alongside the river. The line still carries trains on the main route between Paris and Bordeaux, the recently opened high speed stretch joins this much older line a few km north of Lormont.

No I do not know why this house has an orange spotted cow on the roof!

One of of the several old public wash-houses around the town, now all locked up and out of use.

Hard to believe this is only about 8km from the centre of Bordeaux.

The former Gendarmerie dates from 1900, still in use for some local council offices.

The Chateau de Lormont, now an upmarket restaurant and offices. The main Bordeaux ring road, or beltway, runs in a deep trench immediately to the right of this picture.

A local resident outside the gates, perhaps looking for a way in.

Another of the old wash-houses, the Lavoir Banchereau, was in use from the late 18th century until, apparently, 1975. Once again locked up and inaccessible to visitors.
Article and pictures in French from the local historical society

These houses opposite date from the 17th century.

Some nice flowerbeds outside the church.

A church has stood here since 1294. This edition was consecrated in 1451. The bell tower was built slightly earlier. Observe the rather crude join between the two parts, the buttress cuts across a former doorway and even a window!

The rear of the church has several stained glass windows.

How to get to Lormont? The ferry runs at off peak times on weekdays, at weekends and on public holidays it runs every 45 minutes. All Bordeaux daily, weekly and multi-ride passes are valid, a single trip paid cash on board is €2. More information and current timetable at scroll down to the very last item on the list. Lormont-Bas (down by the river) is also served by city bus routes 7, 40, 91 and 92. The more ‘modern’ part has a stop on Tram line A (the branch to La Gardette) and bus 40 wends its way up there. Also, bus 32 goes over the Pont D’Aquitaine and into that area. All the timetables can be downloaded from that same page. Make sure you are looking at the current edition as a different timetable applies on many city routes during July and August. Also be aware that the entire city tram and bus system (and the ferry!) does not operate on the Labour Day holiday of May 1st.


Visit to the Dune de Pilat, 13th July 2017

In Bordeaux,France on July 15, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Having read and watched a lot about the Dune de Pilat, I decided to make a visit. The Dune de Pilat (sometimes spelled Pyla) is Europe’s largest sand dune. It is assessed as being 110 metres high, 500 metres wide at the base and 2.7km long. In fact, a headline in the local newspaper that day claimed it has grown in height 1.3 metres this year.

There are steps laid into the dune, but the proper way is walk up the soft sand to the top. The view, if you get there, is worth it.


The sand is very soft and the walk is across the slope rather than direct, so it quite hard work. Safe to day I did make it but knew about the effort on arrival!


The view is good, this picture shows the bay, Arcachon town is off to the right out of shot. Across the bay is the Lege Cap Ferret holiday spot.


Down below the dune is a sandbank, the Banc D’Arguin, obviously a popular place for people with boats to visit.


Immediately below the dune is a rocky beach, covered at low tide, where children can look for creatures.


The height of the dunes makes the area an ideal base for hang gilders. These are 1km or so south of the main dune itself.

Further along, a boat takes people across to the sandbank.


As with much of the coast, the erosion over the last 75 years has resulted in World War  Two German defences now being underwater even at low tide, showing how far the sea has come in.


And, finally, the rather splendid war memorial at Arcachon, bedecked with flags.



Arcachon is about 1 hour by local train south-west of Bordeaux. Trains run about once each hour, every day. Cheap day return fare of €15 was available when I made the trip. From the Railway station, bus number 1 runs about every 40 minutes in summer to the Dune, the fare is only 1 Euro. Helpfully, one of the bus company staff was selling tickets at the stop. The bus I took was absolutely full. The journey takes about 30 minutes and is a bit of a tour around the town at first. There is a also a less frequent service from the railway station at La Teste de Buch – bus website – only available in French.

It usually takes also about an hour to drive between Bordeaux and Arcachon, probably longer on peak summer days.

The bus stops about 10 minutes walk from the steps. There are several large car parks  there also plus expensive cafés and souvenir type shops. The queue for toilets was huge, there are none on the dune and beach so many people were observed sneaking off into the nearby woods. The walk is along a path which gradually turns into a sandy track. it is totally unsuitable for any kind of wheelchair, buggy, baby carriage etc. Even if you could get them up the side of the Dune!


Bordeaux 14 July 2017

In Bordeaux,France on July 15, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

14th July is a very important national holiday in France. It was a very pleasant afternoon and evening here, the city was out in force for various celebrations.


A formal military parade was among the evenrts, with solemn speeches and medals presented. Afterwards there was a short march-past of the various units.


More later. I had been walking around earlier. On Thursday I visited the landmark Dune de Pilat, near Arcachon. Some pictures from that visit later today I hope.


First day here in Bordeaux, south west France. It has been cloudy almost all day with showers and drizzly rain on and off. I did manage to get out for a while and take some pictures of areas familiar and unfamiliar.

Bordeaux is the kind of place where you can be walking around and suddenly find yourself in a large open space where once buildings stood. Typical is the Place André Meunier, which ages ago was the site of a fort, then of the city abbatoirs (slaughterhouses)and is now a semi-neglected space of grass and gravel. Plans to transform it into a city park have been on hold since 2014, but are supposed to be getting under way later this year. I have more pictures in the album below.


Nearby is one of Bordeaux’ oldest retail markets, the Marché des Capucins which has been active since 1749. A lot of stallholders must have been on holiday, but there was still enough going on to make it a lively and interesting place to visit. Some of the stuff made me feel unhealthy just looking at it.

Even older and just around the corner is one of the surviving fragments of the city wall, which dates from the 13th century but probably on earlier foundations, perhaps even from 800 years before when it was the Roman city of Burdigala. They needed it! For a long period, the city was attacked and plundered by several famous tribal names including the Vandals, Goths and Visigoths. Then along came the Moors in the 8th century. And if that wasn’t enough, Vikings turned up in the mid 9th century. Nothing much was heard from the city for a good while after that. There is not much left from those times, unsurprisingly.

During the 12th and 13th centuries the city came back to life. Many of the churches were founded, commerce increased vastly. That was the period when Henry II of England was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine. That no doubt helped the wine export trade, which remains to this day! During part of the 14th century the well known Edward the Black Prince of England was head of an independent state centered on the city, but France gradually asserted its influence and eventually absorbed it.

Many of the city’s fine buildings date from the mid 19th century. It easy to slip around a corner in the old part and come across buildings that seem to have hardly been touched in 150 years, other than modern windows and the odd bullet hole, the latter courtesy of some street shooting in the latter stages of World War 2.

Luckily for us in the present day, in 1944 the German demolition expert, a sergeant, refused the order to blow up the seven miles of port installations that then lined the river. Instead he blew up the explosives magazine, which did cause damage and loss of life, but nothing on the scale required by his masters. He surrended to the resistance immediately, a wise move, and lived to the age of 91.

Thus we can still see the impressive sweep of buildings along the river.


The rest of today’s pictures – click the square below

If it’s a nicer day tomorrow I plan to visit the seaside town of Arcachon, an hour by train from here.

Rainy day in Bordeaux

Tagged: , , on July 12, 2017 by cubsur51

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Three weeks in south west France

In Bordeaux,France on July 12, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged:

I have left a relatively sunny Sussex for a 3 week tour around the south west of France, the Bordeaux and Aquitaine region. Day one has dawned grey and cloudy, 19ºC rising to 24ºC later perhaps.


Some more pictures from around Bordeaux

In Bordeaux,France on August 4, 2016 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

It’s a filthy, horrible, rainy day here in Aquitaine. Here are few more pictures from recent days.

The Cité du vin in Bordeaux
A closer picture. This weird building is open to the public, people were happily eating and drinking in the various upper floors. It’s located on the banks of the Gironde river by the Pont Chaban-Delmas, thus easily accessible from anywhere in the city by tram or bus.

cité du vin

Bordeaux Cité du vin

The memorial outside the former U-boat base. The inscription reads (my translation!) :

To the memory of the thousands of Spanish Republican exiles who, between 1941 and 1943, took part under Nazi control in the construction of the Bordeaux submarine base in particular those who perished through fatigue, drowning or who were entombed in the deep foundations.

And also to the other forced labourers of several nationalities who worked in this hellish workplace, a place of suffering and sacrifice.

(No proof exists of anyone actually being buried in the foundations, many sources think of this as ‘urban myth’, but we shall never know.)

The Spanish Republicans were those who fled that country after their side’s defeat in 1939 by Franco’s Nationalist forces at the end of the Spanish civil war. As communists, they were not not well thought of and were rounded up as forced labour.


Bordeaux submarine base memorial

One of the docks inside the vast cavern of the submarine base.  It is now a large pigeon loft!

bx sub base interior

Bordeaux submarine base interior

An admonition from 73 years ago. Do not put anything here!

bx sub base 2

Bordeaux submarine base notice

The tidal docks (Bassins a Flot) and their associated railways and industries were abandoned as commercial enterprises in the 1980’s, but much of the equipment was never recovered. I spotted this point (switch) lever just sitting there on a scrap of land between a car wash and McDonald’s. Valuable as scrap metal as are the rusting tracks.

The whole area is now the subject of a huge regeneration and rebuilding programme which will run for around 15 years. A new maritime museum is included, due to open in 2018.

point lever


It is still raining hard!!