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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.

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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.

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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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