Local top-flight football (soccer) team Girondins de Bordeaux will soon be leaving Stade Chaban...

Stade des Chartrons: the Girondins stadium which has disappeared from view

Local top-flight football (soccer) team Girondins de Bordeaux will soon be leaving Stade Chaban-Delmas and moving to their new purpose-built stadium in the Lac district of the city. But did you know that in the early years of the club, les Girondins in fact alternated between two stadiums: Parc Lescure (now Chaban-Delmas) and Stade des Chartrons, aptly enough in the Chartrons quarter.

To get the full story, Invisible Bordeaux teamed up with fellow blogger Antoine Puentès, also known as MyStickTroy, who had suggested the subject as a potentially interesting one to pursue together. To add an extra layer, a request had also come through from David Ledru, the webmaster behind the marvellous Scapulaire.com site (the definitive online database and guide to the history of the Girondins de Bordeaux), who wanted to track down information about the buildings which had taken the stadium’s place, on behalf of the descendants of Olivier Lhoste-Clos, a former chairman of the club.

So, where do we start? The Girondins football team’s story began in 1919 when they were formed as part of an “omnisports” club whose roots can be traced back to 1881, when the Société de gymnastique et de tir des Girondins was founded (hence the “1881” which features on the football club’s badge these days). They soon became known as Girondins Guyenne Sport (in reference to the 1924 merger with Guyenne Sports from the Saint-Augustin district).

In 1936, under the leadership of chairman Olivier Lhoste-Clos and club secretary Raymond Brard, les Girondins merged with local rivals Bordeaux FC… and the following year became amateur champions of France. Now known as Girondins de Bordeaux Football Club (and their shirts freshly comprising their now-distinctive “V” design), they applied to turn professional. There had previously been two professional teams in the city, Sporting Club de la Bastidienne and Club Deportivo Espagnol de Bordeaux, who had merged to form a single team, FC Hispano-Bastidienne… but the experience had been short-lived. The Girondins therefore were keen to become the city’s single professional football team and in the 1937-38 season they managed just that, competing in group B of France’s second division.

Top left: September 1938 picture of the Girondins sporting their brand new "V" design shirts, possibly at the inaugural game at Stade des Chartrons (source: Scapulaire.com). The other two pictures show games in progress at the stadium. Source top right: Sud Ouest via Histoire Caychac, bottom: Scapulaire.com (note the 1930s advert for the website).
The club’s structure was taking shape and, with the financial help of Racing Club de France, les Girondins purchased a plot of marshland in the Chartrons district, between Rue de Leybardie and Rue Chantecrit. The location was destined to become their footballing HQ – up until this point they had played at Parc de Suzon in Talence (while the club’s offices were on Cours Clémenceau). Topsoil was brought in from the suburb of Bruges to serve as a base for the pitch. And, as a lucky coincidence, the city of Bordeaux had totally dismantled the 10,000-seater stands of the Cyprien Alfred-Duprat-designed stadium which was to make way for the far more modern Parc Lescure, inaugurated during the 1938 World Cup. Those stands were entirely rebuilt in the Chartrons district, and the Stade des Chartrons was born.


The Girondins’ inaugural game in their new stadium was held on September 18th 1938, and the locals thrashed Dunkerque 8-1. According to press reports, the game “drew a large crowd in spite of having to compete with an athletics meeting at the stade municipal [Lescure]”. Indeed, over the ensuing years, the Girondins were just one of many residents at Lescure, sharing the space with athletes, cyclists and rugby teams. At the Stade des Chartrons, the Girondins were genuinely on home ground, playing in their own stadium which was entirely dedicated to football.

In 1940, the club merged with Association Sportive du Port (an anchor was added to the club’s badge at the time), although this was mainly because, in this wartime period, Girondins sportsmen were called on to operate as pompiers for the Port of Bordeaux. The newly-enrolled members of the club therefore avoided being deported or being assigned to tasks such as the construction of the Atlantikwall. (It might also be noted that during the War, Italian and German soldiers stationed at the nearby submarine base made use of the Chartrons sporting facilities.) Meanwhile, back on the pitch itself, les Girondins won the French Cup in 1941 after a “series” of finals (the cup’s format had been somewhat disturbed by the country’s situation). The club wouldn’t win the cup again until 1986!

Cup finalists again in 1943. Standing to the right, partly obscured, is club chairman Olivier Lhoste-Clos (source: Scapulaire.com)
Les Girondins nevertheless continued their gradual sporting ascent and became French champions for the first time in 1950. And they carried on alternating between Lescure and Chartrons until September 21st 1958, when the club (then back in the second division) became the official primary users of Parc Lescure. If so, according to records, the final match at the Chartrons stadium was, in all likelihood, a 1-0 home win versus Stade Français on September 7th.

The Girondins continued to train at the stadium, which was no longer used for top-level matches, until 1962 when a major change was to occur. The “omnisports” club purchased the Domaine de Rocquevieille in Mérignac and transformed it into a sports complex that comprised the football team’s training quarters. The Chartrons stadium was no longer needed and was passed on to the city of Bordeaux, who had grand plans for the 16,681 square metres of land that were freed up: it would be an ideal location to rehouse some of the working class inhabitants who were about to be evicted from the Mériadeck district, which was on course to be transformed from a seedy neighbourhood of échoppes into the city’s ultra-modern high-rise administrative and business quarter.

In 1962 the stadium was therefore demolished and, shortly afterwards, made way for two high-rise estates: Résidence Chantecrit and Résidence des Chartrons. The latter can be reached via a short cul-de-sac off Rue Leybardie which has been given the name Cité Lhoste-Clos, in memory of the man who had been at the helm of the Girondins between 1934 and 1945, and, as noted above, had been instrumental in the construction of the stadium.

The area as seen on GoogleEarth, and the approximate past location of the stadium.
This aerial view, captured by reader Vincent M with the GoogleEarth History application, shows the same area as it was in the mid-20th century. The stadium is clearly visible.
And this incredible aerial view, spotted by reader Gaël Barreau on Géoportail, shows the scene in 1947. Look carefully and you'll see there are even footballers on the pitch (but no spectators). Note the empty swimming pool bottom left... Could that be another potential blog subject?
Visiting the site early one morning with Antoine, our theory is that the main entrance to the stadium may well have been located at the end of the cul-de-sac, which still today is flanked by houses which probably date back to the 1930s or beyond. Whatever, we enjoyed the idea that the view looking down towards where the stadium was may have changed relatively little. But the view where the pitch used to be shows no sign whatsoever of its football heritage.

The view at Cité Lhoste-Clos, and the scene where the football pitch used to be.
Instead, it is now a combination of apartment blocks, greenery and practical parking spaces. It’s all very functional and, looking in from outside, seems to be a pleasant environment for the residents in the private “copropriété” (commonhold/condominium).

Over on Rue Chantecrit, a “City-Stade” urban sports pitch does at least provide an opportunity to photograph one of the apartment blocks from a sporting environment. With Antoine we wonder whether this is where a coal processing factory was located when the Stade des Chartrons was in its prime. Over time, layers of coal dust from the factory were deposited on the stands, later causing some commentators to jokingly refer to the stadium as Stade des Charbons (coal).


The coal, like the stadium, is long gone, the district has continued to develop, and the Girondins have gone on to flourish, becoming one of the country’s most successful outfits. In 1981, the football team became a standalone entity, setting up their own training facilities at Domaine Bel Air, a château in Le Haillan. Meanwhile, the Rocquevielle sporting facilities continue to be used by the “omnisports” club to this day.

Top: the Rocquevieille complex in Mérignac, which is still home to the Girondins omnisports club, and bottom: the Le Haillan headquarters and training facilities of the modern-day football team.
  •  Find it on the Invisible Bordeaux map:
    • Site of Stade des Chartrons, Cité Lhoste-Clos, Bordeaux; Domaine de Rocquevielle, Avenue Marcel-Dassault, Mérignac; Château du Haillan, Le Haillan.
  • The French-language version of this article is available on The MystickTroy's Blogpaper.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting article. I read it and I cross-checked some pictures taken during the WW2: it is this soccer stadium and not the the other one nearer (inside) the italian base.

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