Bordeaux is not a city that is naturally associated with bullfighting and yet for many years it had its very own Pla...

The Bordeaux bullring circuit: Arènes du Bouscat to Floirac and La Brède

Bordeaux is not a city that is naturally associated with bullfighting and yet for many years it had its very own Plaza de Toros in the north-western suburb of Le Bouscat. And even today, the bullfighting tradition lives on in nearby La Brède once a year.

Let’s begin though by rewinding to 1863, when a bullring was set up in the Caudéran area of Bordeaux by a Spaniard named Lopez Vincent: les Arènes Bordelaises. A second, La Benatte, was opened in 1899 in  the Saint Seurin quarter. They operated until the early years of the 20th century, ahead of the more substantial Arènes du Bouscat being opened on May 8th 1921.

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In the residential quarters of Bordeaux and its immediate suburbs, the streets are dotted with single-storey houses that all shar...

Échoppes bordelaises: the low-rise fixture on the city's skyline

In the residential quarters of Bordeaux and its immediate suburbs, the streets are dotted with single-storey houses that all share a similar design, and yet are all somehow unique: échoppes bordelaises.

The word itself has Occitan roots, descending from “choppa”, which was used in reference to a shop or workshop. As far back as the 15th century, “échoppes” in Bordeaux provided a home and working environment for shop-owners and craftsmen. It is from the 18th century onwards that the city’s échoppes began to be used solely as townhouses, with the lion’s share of the city’s 11,000 échoppes being built between 1850 and 1930. In many districts, they were traditionally inhabited by the working classes (particularly near Saint-Jean station, where many of the railway workers, les cheminots, set up home), although over the years the social lines have become blurred – many are now clearly bourgeois townhouses.

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One of the essentials on the city centre tour of Bordeaux is the central Place Pey Berland square and the 66-metre-tall Pey-Berland be...

Saint-Raphaël: the hamlet Pey Berland called home

One of the essentials on the city centre tour of Bordeaux is the central Place Pey Berland square and the 66-metre-tall Pey-Berland belfry, from which visitors can take in one of the best views of the “Port de la Lune”. But Pey Berland’s birthplace was actually a tiny hamlet on the territory of Avensan in the Médoc, 26 kilometres to the north-west of the city: Saint-Raphaël.

First things first though. Who was Pey Berland? Pey (Pierre, or Peter, in Gascon) was born in 1375 to a father who was a labourer from Avensan and a mother who was a peasant from Moulis. In spite of these humble roots, he was educated by a local notary before being sent to a clerical school in Bordeaux after the death of his father, then to university in Toulouse. Returning to Bordeaux, he became a priest in Bouliac to the south-east of the city around 1412. He went on to become secretary to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, travelling around France, Italy and England in this capacity, before Pope Martin V appointed him Archbishop of Bordeaux on August 13th 1430.

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|| PART OF A TWIN FEATURE PUBLISHED WITH INVISIBLE PARIS! || Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate defeated by Barack Obama in the 2012...

Place du Maucaillou: Mitt Romney’s Bordeaux connection


Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate defeated by Barack Obama in the 2012 US presidential elections, has often acknowledged his affinity with France and all things French. In this article and the twin feature on Invisible Paris, we lift the lid on Romney's French connections...

The language and the knowledge of the country is something he picked up during a two-and-a-half-year stint as a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints missionary to France in the late 1960s, including six months spent in Bordeaux. During that time he and fellow Mormon missionary Steven Bang lived in an apartment at number 4, Place du Maucaillou, in the vicinity of the ever-lively Capucins market. He was stationed there as a 20-year-old from January 1968, after time spent in the northern cities of Le Havre and Brest, and ahead of a six-month stay in Paris.

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The name is misleading! Impasse de Rue Neuve features some of the oldest properties in Bordeaux, not to mention cobblestones th...

Impasse de Rue Neuve: nothing new!

The name is misleading! Impasse de Rue Neuve features some of the oldest properties in Bordeaux, not to mention cobblestones that have been in position since the 17th century. The name was actually coined in reference to the then-new mansion houses (“oustaus” in Gascon) that were built by noble families on neighbouring Rue Neuve around the Renaissance period.

Pictured above to the right, just beyond the archway, is the city’s oldest house, which historians consider to have been built in the 14th or 15th century. All that remains of the original fortified structure is a single wall and its Gothic-style twin arched windows. The ground-floor carriage entrance has long-since been bricked up. It is believed that the house once belonged to the powerful Soler family, who tussled for many years with the rival Colom family for influence in Bordeaux.

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