Rue Notre-Dame is one of the oldest and longest roads in the Chartrons district of Bordeaux. In amongst the elegant 18th-century buildings, timeless antique dealers and fashionable art galleries is a peculiar façade, the front of what used to be a renowned hammam (Turkish baths), “Les Grands Bains des Chartrons”.
The steam rooms, which were originally the property of the wine negociant Mr Jaubert, opened in 1895 on the site where a convent once stood (known as “couvent des Carmes déchaussés” or “couvent des Petits-Carmes”). The baths were built to the designs of Bordeaux architect Eugène Gervais, who also conceived the Théâtre des Arts building on Rue Saint-Sernin and some impressive villas further north in Royan.
In his 1900 book "À travers le vieux Bordeaux : récit et carnet de voyages", writer Ernest Laroche states that the recently-opened Grands Bains were "the biggest and most comfortable establishment of this type in Bordeaux and indisputably one of the most luxurious in France" ("le plus vaste et le plus confortable des établissements de ce genre installés à Bordeaux et un des plus luxueux de France, sans conteste"). Laroche also talks about "the gentle heat which would not affect the quality of the air" and "the gracious readiness of the staff" ("une chaleur douce sans vicier l’air, l’empressement gracieux du personnel…"). All-in-all it sounds like it was a nice place.
|The gate which leads through to the car park where the baths once were. Note the ornate metalwork that forms an integral part of the structure.|
|Postcard dating from the 1920s or thereabouts |
showing Garage du Pavé des Chartrons.
Source: Conchi Lolita.
- Find it on the Invisible Bordeaux map:
- Grands Bains des Chartrons, 29 rue Notre-Dame, Bordeaux
- Thanks to Frances Sprout for suggesting this subject and to Conchi Lolita for additional information. Thanks also to current owner Denis Bertaud for further details and for giving Lesley Graham and myself a behind-the-scenes tour!
- Cet article est également disponible en français.