Saturday, 2 May 2015

Winegate: the scandal which shook Bordeaux in 1973

It was my Invisible Paris counterpart Adam who spotted this 1973 Paris Match cover in a museum display case. Headline news alongside Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the blue jean phenomenon and racism in France was the enigmatic announcement of a “Scandale à Bordeaux”. What scandal could this possibly be referring to? The answer is “Winegate”!

The story began at 124 Quai des Chartrons which, at the time, was the waterfront home of the prestigious wine trading and export company Cruse. On Thursday June 28th 1973, inspectors from the State tax department’s Brigade de Surveillance des Services Fiscaux descended on Cruse, possibly as the result of a tip-off, with the intention of carrying out a full audit and inventory.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Inside Stade Bordeaux-Atlantique, the next big sporting arena

In 2012 and again in 2014 I reported on the Stade Bordeaux-Atlantique construction project. The subject started out as an suitably “invisible” topic, but has developed into something which will be on full view for the general public from May 23rd onwards.

During an enjoyable case of work commitments and personal interests converging, I was recently given a sneak preview of the nearly-completed stadium, and visited the venue in the company of two delightful members of the “SBA” staff. I thought the outing deserved a blog entry, so here it is!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Cité de la Benauge: radical changes ahead for the model 1950s estate

As so often, this article began with an old postcard, specifically this 1960s “vue des grands blocs” of Cité Pinçon in the Bastide quarter of Bordeaux, the kind of high-rise view which is far removed from the customary sight of the city’s 18th-century façades.

Cité Pinçon and its sister estate Cité Blanche together form Cité de la Benauge (sometimes even referred to as “Cité-Jardin de la Benauge”), which at the time of writing comprises just under 1,200 homes. Until the 1950s, the area was vast marshland that belonged to one Jules Pinçon, hence the name given to the first development which included these two massive 10-storey blocks and six smaller-scale five-storey buildings.  

Monday, 6 April 2015

Revisiting Neanysa, François Didier’s imaginary ancient city

Invisible Bordeaux first encountered the sculptor François Didier in 2014 when researching the three bronze plans-reliefs which have been positioned in central Bordeaux. At the time, the investigation took the blog to the village of Bages to see further 3-D maps, and down to Lugos, at the northern tip of les Landes, to visit the artist’s workshop and gardens.

This time, the François Didier trail led me to the renowned Musée Georges de Sonneville in Gradignan, to visit an elaborate exhibition that is currently showcasing his work (it runs until April 12th), entitled “Neanysa, ville antique”. The concept is simple but the execution is both surprising and impressive in its scale: François Didier has created his own imaginary ancient city, Neanysa, and the exhibition enables visitors to discover the city-that-never-was by viewing a whole host of items and documents that pay testimony to how things were, or might have been!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Selected sights and stories from Soulac-sur-Mer

During my recent early-morning trip to Soulac-sur-Mer, I made a point of staying put until sunrise to be able to visit a number of sights which I thought deserved coverage on the blog, and which show that there is much more to this Médocain seaside resort than its characteristic red-brick houses, and its doomed ocean-front residence Le Signal

Some of the sights have direct ties with past blog subjects, such as this first landmark, one of the world’s many replicas of the Statue of Liberty. An explanatory text at the base of the statue explains that it was commissioned by the town in 1980 and manufactured by the Paris ateliers of Arthus-Bertrand, using the original mould designed by sculptor Auguste Bartholdi. However, an urban legend also suggests that the statue is the very one which was located on Place Picard in Bordeaux from 1888 until its disappearance at the hands of the Germans in 1941. Which version is true?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The day Soulac-sur-Mer's Le Signal residence became a work of art

It was a very early start on Saturday March 21st 2015. I woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head and drove 85 kilometres from my home near Bordeaux to Soulac-sur-Mer, with the sole aim of being on the ocean-front at 5:15AM to view a one-off son et lumière performance that made use of the façade of a doomed apartment block, Le Signal.

Le Signal has long been an angular eyesore for some, but was a much-loved home and holiday residence for others and was initially set to be just the first of a number of such buildings in Soulac. Importantly, when it was built, between 1965 and 1970, the ocean was a good 200 metres away. But over the ensuing years, the Atlantic has literally gained ground on this lone apartment block, at a rate of between four and eight metres per year.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Old postcards shining new light on past Invisible Bordeaux subjects

Old postcards have often proved to be the starting point for Invisible Bordeaux investigations. But recent acquisitions have also added an extra dimension to subjects which have already been covered in the past. Here are some examples!

We start our journey on Allées de Tourny, on April 25th 1905, at the official unveiling of a grand monument celebrating the achievements of 19th-century statesman Léon Gambetta. Leading the tributes that day was French president Émile Loubet, although this picture shows the undoubtedly stirring rendition of La Marseillaise by renowned baritone Francisque Delmas.

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