Sunday, 24 May 2015

Overlaying old postcards from Bordeaux and Arcachon on the same views today

Last year the blog ran a number of pictures that merged old photos with pictures taken from the same spot today, using the expert Photoshop know-how of friend Anthony Poulachon. This time though I have taken a literally hands-on approach to combining old and new, by manually overlaying old postcards onto the modern-day view, i.e. simply holding them in front of the camera lens.

This technique has been used masterfully by photographers such as Julien Knez whose pictures incorporating wartime Paris are particularly effective. The following selection is nowhere near as spectacular, but I hope you'll enjoy the views!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Pont Saint-Jean: Bordeaux's great unloved bridge

You’ve got to feel sorry for Pont Saint-Jean. In the unwritten hierarchy of Bordeaux’s road bridges, it comes very much at the bottom of the table, far behind the elegant Pont de Pierre, the slick Chaban-Delmas lift bridge, the wondrous Pont d’Aquitaine suspension bridge and the minimalist Pont Mitterrand. In the otherwise flawless “Dictionnaire de Bordeaux” it doesn’t even get an entry. Let’s face it, if Pont Saint-Jean were one of the Beatles, it would be Pete Best.

The unloved edifice was the result of a relatively short process which began in 1962 with an initial call for tenders to deliver a bridge to connect Quai de Paludate (near Saint-Jean railway station on the left bank) with Quai Deshcamps in the right-bank Bastide quarter. Campenon Bernard, a company which is now part of the Vinci group, were selected and they teamed up with the architect Jean-Louis Fayeton (1908-1968). Construction work began in April 1963.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Invisible Bordeaux conference at Musée d’Aquitaine on Thursday June 25th!

As part of the series of conferences held by the prestigious Mémoire de Bordeaux association, I will be giving a talk in the auditorium of the legendary Musée d’Aquitaine on Thursday June 25th at 6pm.

During the hour-long conference I will be looking back over some of the sights, sounds, stories and people that I have researched and documented since launching the Invisible Bordeaux website in 2011.

There’ll be exclusive anecdotes, exciting photos, spectacular videos and possibly even indoor fireworks if I obtain the relevant paperwork from the local authorities. Bordeaux will never be the same again.

I hope to see you there!

The vital statistics:
  • Invisible Bordeaux conference, Thursday June 25th 2015 at 6pm
  • Musée d’Aquitaine auditorium, 20 cours Pasteur, Bordeaux
  • Admission entirely free of charge
  • Facebook event page

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!
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