Monday, 4 April 2016

The playable city initiative that enables conversations with the lamp posts of Bordeaux

When, back in the 1960s, Simon & Garfunkel sang the line “Hello lamp post, what'cha knowing?”, little did they realise that come 2016 they might even get a response from the lamp post itself. For that is precisely the system that has been rolled out in Bordeaux for this year’s “Semaine Digitale” festivities, and which will be extended throughout April and into early May.

The system is called, appropriately enough, “Hello Lamp Post” and provides a means of interacting with all kinds of street furniture around the city including trams, monuments and bollards. Getting started is simple: pick an item of street furniture with a serial code on it, send a message in this format “Hello object #code” to 0644606055 (or “Salut” if you prefer communicating in French), and then see where the conversation with the inanimate object takes you. 

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The life, times and statue(s) of the painter Carle Vernet

This unusual bronze statue can be found on the raised terrace that runs along the southern flank of the Jardin Public in central Bordeaux. It depicts the artist Carle Vernet, but who was Vernet and what was his connection with the city?

Carle Vernet was born Antoine Charles Horace Vernet on August 14th 1758 in Bordeaux. He was the son of the renowned painter Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) who had been commissioned by King Louis XV to deliver a series of pictures of France's seaports (*see footnote). This resulted in a number of extended stays in coastal cities around the country. And so it was that the Vernet clan momentarily set up shop in Bordeaux, residing for two years at what is now number 22, Cours du Chapeau-Rouge.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Bordeaux postcard overlays, round 2!

A few months ago I published an item featuring photographs of old postcards manually overlaid on the same environments today. I had a lot of fun producing those shots, and one of the pictures even came top in a competition to celebrate the Jetée Thiers pier in Arcachon.

After picking up another batch of postcards at a collectors' fair, I headed out once again with my camera in one hand and a new set of old pictures in the other. Here are the end-products!

Monday, 29 February 2016

All change in 2016 for the Observatory of Bordeaux on the Floirac hilltops

Perched high above the city, in the hilly right-bank suburb of Floirac, is the Observatory of Bordeaux, one of the most significant scientific sites in the area, and one for which a new chapter will open later in 2016.

The observatory was founded in 1878 by the Bordeaux-born astronomer Georges Rayet (whose name was to be given to his joint discovery, so-called Wolf-Rayet stars) and has, over the years, become a renowned establishment initially excelling in the fields of celestial mechanics (calculation of the motion and trajectory of celestial objects) and astrometry (measurement of the positions and movements of celestial objects). From the 1970s onwards, the observatory’s focus extended to include studies in radio waves and research into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Haircut time at Infini’tif Coiffure in Le Haillan

When I recently compiled the names of independent hairdressing salons in and around Bordeaux, I asked readers to vote for the salon which would welcome me for my next hairdressing appointment.  

Le Haillan’s Infini’tif cruised to victory, and so that is where I headed, packaging myself as the prize in my own competition. Things couldn’t have worked out more sweetly: Infini’tif offers a particularly warm welcome in a pleasant setting (including massage chairs), and the team are clearly highly-skilled craftspeople. Before my hair wax had even begun to set, I took some time out with the salon’s director, the most excellent Jérôme, and put a few questions to him.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Castel d’Andorte: ghosts of centuries past in Le Bouscat’s Parc de la Chêneraie

Once again, Invisible Bordeaux has made its way to Le Bouscat. This time we are headed for the leafy Parc de la Chêneraie to explore its centrepiece, a mysterious 18th-century mansion known as the Castel d’Andorte.

For many centuries the surrounding area had comprised of farmland and vineyards and regularly changed hands: it was the property of the chapitre of Bordeaux’s Saint-Seurin basilica for a number of years, then the legal counsel Arnaud de Ferron in the 16th century, followed by Étienne Duval, a knight who was also the Seigneur of Castets-en-Dorthe. In the 18th century Duval sold the land onto one Abbé (abbot) Laborde, a dean within the Saint-Seurin chapter.

Friday, 22 January 2016

New video: touring Bordeaux Parc Floral's twin city gardens

One of Invisible Bordeaux's favourite places in the city is the remarkable Parc Floral, which was the subject of a full feature many months ago (now also available in French).

I recently returned there with three young men, Minister FIFA, Lukesterray and Mystery Hoodie Boy, and together we toured the park's twin city gardens. Please make sure your passport is handy and follow us as we magically travel to Peru, Canada, Morocco, Israel, Spain, Germany and elsewhere!

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