The town of Blanquefort, in the second belt of Bordeaux’s northern suburbs, owes its name to this “white fort” ( Blanque fortis ) which k...

The white fortress of Blanquefort

The town of Blanquefort, in the second belt of Bordeaux’s northern suburbs, owes its name to this “white fort” (Blanque fortis) which kept watch over the marshy Garonne-side lowlands from the 11th century onwards. Today, the privately-owned site occasionally opens its doors to the general public, and visiting the ruins provides a unique means of instantly rewinding through 1,000 years of history. 

Archaeological digs in the area have established that there was human presence here as early as 1200BC. More recent Gallo-Roman period tiles were also uncovered suggesting that there may have been a rudimentary structure designed to monitor movement along the road pictured below, which at the time was the only route into Burdigala (Bordeaux) from the north.

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In the previous Invisible Bordeaux posts (click here for part 1 and part 2 ), you will have read about the first stages in my attempt to...

The Invisible Bordeaux Monopoly challenge: part 3/3

In the previous Invisible Bordeaux posts (click here for part 1 and part 2), you will have read about the first stages in my attempt to use the Bordeaux edition of the board game Monopoly as a roadmap to cycle around the city. The second chapter ended with me outside Sainte-Croix church.

From here it was just a short ride to Gare Saint-Jean railway station, one of the four public transport squares to collect on the Bordeaux Monopoly board (solely railway stations in the original editions). On the other side of the railway lines lies the Belcier quarter which is, along with Bassins à Flots, currently the cheapest square on the board (60 Monopoly dollars, or M's). There are run-down, semi-demolished houses, rows of no-frills low-rise échoppes, but also a number of modern office and residential buildings taking shape and heralding the area’s on-going re-birth, which is likely to move up a gear when the very high-speed rail network is complete in 2017. Property here will then be just two hours from central Paris, i.e. almost as accessible as some of the capital city’s distant suburbs!

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In the previous Invisible Bordeaux post , you will have read about the first stages in my attempt to use the Bordeaux edition of Monopoly...

The Invisible Bordeaux Monopoly challenge: part 2/3

In the previous Invisible Bordeaux post, you will have read about the first stages in my attempt to use the Bordeaux edition of Monopoly as a roadmap to cycle around the city. The first chapter ended with me on Esplanade des Quinconces admiring wedding photographers at work.

From here on the Monopoly stops were coming thick and fast: the affluent Triangle d’Or (the most expensive blue-set property on the board, at 400 Monopoly dollars, or M's), the public transport hub and square that is Place Gambetta (M240), the wide walkway of Cours du Chapeau-Rouge (M260) where a few artists were displaying and selling their pictures, and Place de la Bourse (M320) which, at the time I was there, was still virtually deserted.

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Every year during my family’s summer holidays, a different board game rules the early-evening apéritif slot. This year, that game was the...

The Invisible Bordeaux Monopoly challenge: part 1/3

Every year during my family’s summer holidays, a different board game rules the early-evening apéritif slot. This year, that game was the Bordeaux edition of the classic board game Monopoly and it occurred to me, possibly after a couple of glasses of Corsican wine (and probably inspired by this book), that the board could serve as an interesting and unusual roadmap for a cycle ride around the city. The Invisible Bordeaux Monopoly challenge was born!

The current Bordeaux Monopoly set, one of a host of regional variants that are now available (Bassin d’Arcachon and Gironde versions also exist), was released by games specialists Winning Moves under licence from Hasbro in 2011, a decade on from the city’s first edition. The streets and districts on the board cover a wide variety of property market values, as identified with the aid of local real estate specialists. The Monopoly board therefore serves as an instant snapshot of where in the city property is the most desirable, and where it is the most affordable!

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Welcome to the Le Chapon Fin , one of Bordeaux’s oldest restaurants and firmly established as an essential high-society meeting point in th...

Le Chapon Fin: the Bordeaux dining experience by royal appointment

Welcome to the Le Chapon Fin, one of Bordeaux’s oldest restaurants and firmly established as an essential high-society meeting point in the heart of the affluent Triangle d’Or, the three sides of which are formed by Cours de l’Intendance, Cours Clémenceau and Allées de Tourny.

The restaurant was founded in 1825 in the slipstream of the French Revolution. Convent land and buildings had been confiscated and within the space of a few years of hasty urban planning, housing, shops, theatres, a covered market and restaurants all mushroomed to serve the needs of the quarter’s wealthy trader residents.

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