By doing a little bit of research, I realized that visiting confluences of the like had become a pastime for enthusiasts around the world who then posted their stories and photos on the www.confluence.org website. I was therefore able to read about other visits to the 45°N 0° confluence and saw that, well, there wasn’t much to be seen there at all.
The subject nevertheless deserved time and effort, and given the distance involved I felt it would be good to form a road-trip gang: I therefore enlisted my ten-year-old son Dorian, who has recently been learning about latitude and longitude at school, and Vincent Bart from the excellent Bordeaux2066 blog, who immediately jumped at the chance of checking out something which doesn’t actually exist.
A date was set… and was maintained in spite of horrific weather conditions on the day itself; we hoped that the heavy rain would be interspersed with clear spells enabling us to thoroughly explore the subject, but it turned out we were wrong! Anyhow, Dorian and I departed early morning from our base camp in Saint-Aubin-de-Médoc, meeting up with Vincent shortly afterwards in central Bordeaux. From there, we keyed the “45°N 0°” coordinates into the GPS satnav and set off for the confluence, which lies on the eastern edge of the Gironde département. It is in fact located mid-way between Saint-Seurin-sur-l’Isle and Puynormand, but is technically on the territory of the latter.
The abstract structure looked more like some kind of farming implement, but we eventually established it did indeed represent a cross section of the Earth, or at least of the northern hemisphere, with the 45° parallel apparently meeting the meridian half-way up. But there was no information panel, and no confirmation that we were admiring public artwork rather than some sort of device used to water the vegetation. We wanted to know more.
|No way is it some sort of farming equipment. Think of it as a cross-section of one half of the Earth! The piece is properly "interpreted" here although a part is now missing making the structure more difficult to understand...|
We had no trouble finding the house. Arriving at the gate, the person we rightly presumed to be Mr Stanghellini was waving at us and inviting us to come in. We soon understood that such a warm, spontaneous welcome must come naturally to André as he and his wife run a maison d’hôtes (and one which has gained unanimously fantastic reviews from their guests). Welcome to Chez Papi et Mamie!
We took a seat in the living room and the retired military doctor informed us that he had moved back to the area around 2000, and had been keen for the village to capitalize on its unique geographical credentials. So, in 2002 he joined forces with a handful of likeminded people and formed an association, known as “Greenwich 45” and which aims to create a fully-fledged visitors’ area focused on the convergence point. The dual objective is to “materialize the spot and provide pedagogical information for visitors”. His dream is therefore to install rows of stones which will mark the intersection between the two imaginary lines, and combine that with explanatory panels introducing the origins of the measurement of time and the development of cartography.
|Home and dry and a few days after the event, enjoying a glass of Château Vilatte.|
|The sight of a rainbow had us thinking we might enjoy a brighter spell. It wasn't to be.|
|All totally home-made (in case you hadn't noticed).|
Our 45°N 0° adventure was coming to a close, although we have every intention to pay a return visit in the future, but only if it’s sunny next time round... We want to be able to report back on whether our wooden signpost survives, whether the metallic “machin” is still in position, and whether André Stanghellini’s more elaborate Greenwich 45 site takes shape. Puynormand, we will be back.
|The panoramic view at the 45°N 0° confluence.|