Friday, 22 August 2014

Sculptor François Didier, the plans-reliefs of Bordeaux and Bages, and the Jardin de Casaque

In central Bordeaux, three bronze orientation maps (or “plans-reliefs” in French) have been positioned at strategic locations. I met up with François Didier, the sculptor behind these popular hands-on works of public art, to talk about the pieces, about a similar project rolled out near Pauillac and about his private sculpture garden at the northern tip of les Landes.  

The plans-reliefs project was initiated around 2007 by Philippe Prévôt, who is in charge of “patrimoine historique” (heritage sites) at Bordeaux Office de Tourisme, as well as being a renowned author of articles and books about the city’s lesser-known stories. Prévôt had been inspired by a 3-D map in Florence, Italy, and thought his friend François Didier would be the right man for the job, as the sculptor had already produced scale models of towns in the past. The idea soon gained the support of the city council who would go on to commission the works in partnership with the Office de Tourisme.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Video: Tracking the river Devèze from Mérignac to Bordeaux

Some time ago I published an item about the Devèze and my attempt to track the now mostly-underground river from Mérignac airport all the way into central Bordeaux. 

I recently went back and this time filmed the adventure, which you can view in this brand new Youtube clip:

Friday, 8 August 2014

The bust of Carl Linnaeus, in the words of artist Lucie Geffré

One of the focal points of the Right Bank botanic gardens, as featured in the previous blog item, is the bronze bust of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). The Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist is regarded as the father of modern taxonomy and one of the initiators of modern ecology.

To get the full story about the bust, I got in touch with Lucie Geffré, the talented Bordeaux-born, Madrid-based artist who was commissioned to produce the piece. Over to you, Lucie!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The botanic gardens of Bordeaux 2/2: the Right Bank gardens

In the previous Invisible Bordeaux item, we explored the compact botanic gardens which have been located in the grounds of the Jardin Public since the 19th century. This time we are in the Bastide quarter on the Right Bank of the Garonne to visit the bigger, more ambitious and, yes, slightly crazier botanic gardens which were first opened in 2003.

Built to the designs of landscape gardener Catherine Mosbach and architect Françoise-Hélène Jourda, the 4-hectare gardens (that's 9 acres or 6 football pitches) are made up of a succession of distinct zones, taking visitors through a wide variety of scenery, greenery and ambiences.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The botanic gardens of Bordeaux 1/2: Jardin Public

Today, the city of Bordeaux boasts not one, but two botanic gardens, and the joint endeavours share a history that stretches way back to the 17th century. Today, we are braving the rain to witness the older of the two structures, which lies in the grounds of the Jardin Public.

It is said that the city’s first gardens, initially known as “Jardin des Plantes” were founded in 1629 as a formal collection of indigenous plants cultivated for medicinal, aromatic or culinary purposes. The Jardin enjoyed a number of different locations throughout the city until 1856 when it moved into the Jardin Public, the extensive parc à l’anglaise in central Bordeaux. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

When Bordeaux city centre became a Formula 1 racing track

Unbelievable as it may seem today, in the early 1950s the city centre of Bordeaux hosted four Formula 1 Grand Prix races, attracting driving aces including Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and Maurice Trintignant.

Motor racing had grown in popularity throughout the first half of the 20th century, with a number of urban circuits holding Grand Prix events. In Gironde, the earliest races to be organised by Automobile Club du Sud Ouest (ACSO) were held in the Parc Bordelais throughout the 1920s, followed by a one-off Grand Prix in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles in 1932. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

All about the city of Bordeaux's coat of arms (and logo!)

This mosaic interpretation of the city of Bordeaux’s shield of arms can be seen in the Parc Floral and is one of many designs to be spotted throughout the city. But what do its various components represent? Let’s work our way down from the top.

The blazon is topped off by an azure segment comprising the distinctive silhouette of the fleur de lys, the stylised lily which was the symbol of French royalty. As we shall see further down the page, this part of the coat of arms has not always featured!
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