|Barrière de Toulouse office (above and below).|
|Barrière de Saint-Genès office (above and below).|
|Barrière du Médoc.|
Of course, to many the octroi duty was seen as more of a challenge than an obligation: goods would regularly be cunningly smuggled into the city, often under the cover of outsize garments! Despite these tax evaders, come 1884, the money from octroi duties accounted for two-thirds of the city’s income. However, the tax was abolished in 1927, no doubt to audible sighs of relief… apart from in districts like Caudéran and La Bastide, just outside the central city’s administrative grasp, where a number of bars and inns made a healthy living out of their “duty-free” status.
The death of the octroi tax also meant a turnaround for an historic building in central Bordeaux, best-known as Hôtel de Ragueneau (pictured below).
He personally designed the main gate of the former Hôtel de l'Octroi which, from 1939 onwards, welcomed the city’s archives department, the Académie de Bordeaux and associated scholarly societies (“societés savantes”). The Académie and the scholars later relocated to premises near the Jardin Public and the property is now solely the home of the municipal archives... although they too will be moving to new right-bank premises in 2014.
Finally, above the gate and stretching along the top of the wall of Hôtel de Ragueneau is the city's finest specimen of the flowering plant wisteria sinsensis ("glycine de Chine" in French). The plant has been through hard times of late, mainly because termites have taken a liking to its trunk... the base of which a careless driver also happened to recently manoeuvre into.
Fortunately, extensive treatment has been administered by horticultural experts and the wisteria is set to live another few years. It is thought that the wisteria was planted some 150 years ago, which by my calculations takes us back to the 1860s when the building was taken over by the city... conveniently bringing us full circle to the age of the construction of the boulevards and the glory years of the octroi tax!