Invisible Bordeaux first encountered Gare Saint-Louis when researching the cycle path which runs all the way to Lacanau. The cycle path replaced a railway line which previously departed from Gare Saint-Louis. The station’s other destinations included Bordeaux Saint-Jean and the Médoc wine-growing area.
The station as features here is not what 19th-century travellers would have seen: at the time the “Gare du Médoc” was a wooden structure that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the American Mid-West. The first trains bound for Macau began operating in 1868, and the line was extended to Le Verdon in 1875. The Bordeaux-Lacanau line began operating in 1885.
The first-generation station was destroyed in a fire, with the new art deco terminal being completed around 1932 (architects listed as Henri Martin and Louis Trinquesse from Paris). Inside, the station boasted seven platforms (three for Lacanau/Médoc trains and four for the “ceinture” line which looped around to Saint-Jean) as well as a further five lines for goods trains. Saint-Louis continued to operate until April 1968 when town planning resulted in the railway line being shortened and the station being relocated 900 metres further north.
|Saint-Louis station as it was, and the way it looks today.|
I was expecting the walls to form the backdrop to a lively shopping concourse. Instead, the area formerly occupied by the station is now home to just two businesses: a hairdresser’s (Saint M) and a bar (155th Avenue). The remainder is a succession of bricked-up outlets where, amongst others, a games arcade and a florist used to be. In the main hall, the upper floor which was added when the station became a shopping mall is now out-of-bounds. Peeking through the gates half-way up the stairs, signs remain of the buffet/cafeteria which operated there until 2007. According to some sources, the upper level then became a squat.
|Inside the deserted shopping mall.|
|St Louis in all his glory (and a game of table football in progress).|
|The modern, main entrance to the Leclerc supermarket, while the shop's station-side logo has disappeared |
between the shots on the right, taken in 2012 and 2014 respectively.