We are in Bègles, not far from the Rives d’Arcins shopping emporium and next to the tiny Port Garonne marina. Unusually, ultra-modern ...

Ateliers Louis Blériot: a little piece of aviation history in the middle of Rives d'Arcins retail park


We are in Bègles, not far from the Rives d’Arcins shopping emporium and next to the tiny Port Garonne marina. Unusually, ultra-modern office space has been created inside a metallic cage-like structure. And, tellingly, the new office complex has been given the name “Ateliers Louis Blériot”, a reference to the history of the metal framework, which previously housed workshops founded by aviation pioneer Louis Blériot. What’s the story?

Frenchman Louis Blériot (1872-1936) was an engineer and inventor whose first commercial breakthrough was a patented headlamp for trucks. He ploughed much of his earnings into developing and building aircraft and, in 1909, achieved worldwide fame as the first aviator to fly across the English Channel in a heavier than air aircraft. In 1910 he was registered as France’s first licenced pilot (the official paperwork does indeed feature “N°1”), and continued to achieve success at the head of his company Blériot Aéronautique, later also branching out into the production of motorcycles.

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Last year the blog ran a number of pictures that merged old photos with pictures taken from the same spot today, using the expert Photos...

Overlaying old postcards from Bordeaux and Arcachon on the same views today


Last year the blog ran a number of pictures that merged old photos with pictures taken from the same spot today, using the expert Photoshop know-how of friend Anthony Poulachon. This time though I have taken a literally hands-on approach to combining old and new, by manually overlaying old postcards onto the modern-day view, i.e. simply holding them in front of the camera lens.

This technique has been used masterfully by photographers such as Julien Knez whose pictures incorporating wartime Paris are particularly effective. The following selection is nowhere near as spectacular, but I hope you'll enjoy the views!

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You’ve got to feel sorry for Pont Saint-Jean. In the unwritten hierarchy of Bordeaux’s road bridges, it comes very much at the bottom of...

Pont Saint-Jean: Bordeaux's great unloved bridge


You’ve got to feel sorry for Pont Saint-Jean. In the unwritten hierarchy of Bordeaux’s road bridges, it comes very much at the bottom of the table, far behind the elegant Pont de Pierre, the slick Chaban-Delmas lift bridge, the wondrous Pont d’Aquitaine suspension bridge and the minimalist Pont Mitterrand. In the otherwise flawless “Dictionnaire de Bordeaux” it doesn’t even get an entry. Let’s face it, if Pont Saint-Jean were one of the Beatles, it would be Pete Best.

The unloved edifice was the result of a relatively short process which began in 1962 with an initial call for tenders to deliver a bridge to connect Quai de Paludate (near Saint-Jean railway station on the left bank) with Quai Deshcamps in the right-bank Bastide quarter. Campenon Bernard, a company which is now part of the Vinci group, were selected and they teamed up with the architect Jean-Louis Fayeton (1908-1968). Construction work began in April 1963.

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As part of the series of conferences held by the prestigious Mémoire de Bordeaux association, I will be giving a talk in the auditorium o...

Invisible Bordeaux conference at Musée d’Aquitaine on Thursday June 25th!

As part of the series of conferences held by the prestigious Mémoire de Bordeaux association, I will be giving a talk in the auditorium of the legendary Musée d’Aquitaine on Thursday June 25th at 6pm.

During the hour-long conference I will be looking back over some of the sights, sounds, stories and people that I have researched and documented since launching the Invisible Bordeaux website in 2011.

There’ll be exclusive anecdotes, exciting photos, spectacular videos and possibly even indoor fireworks if I obtain the relevant paperwork from the local authorities. Bordeaux will never be the same again.

I hope to see you there!

The vital statistics:
  • Invisible Bordeaux conference, Thursday June 25th 2015 at 6pm
  • Musée d’Aquitaine auditorium, 20 cours Pasteur, Bordeaux
  • Admission entirely free of charge
  • Facebook event page

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It was my Invisible Paris counterpart Adam who spotted this 1973 Paris Match cover in a museum display case. Headline news alongside Jacqu...

Winegate: the scandal which shook Bordeaux in 1973

It was my Invisible Paris counterpart Adam who spotted this 1973 Paris Match cover in a museum display case. Headline news alongside Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the blue jean phenomenon and racism in France was the enigmatic announcement of a “Scandale à Bordeaux”. What scandal could this possibly be referring to? The answer is “Winegate”!

The story began at 124 Quai des Chartrons which, at the time, was the waterfront home of the prestigious wine trading and export company Cruse. On Thursday June 28th 1973, inspectors from the State tax department’s Brigade de Surveillance des Services Fiscaux descended on Cruse, possibly as the result of a tip-off, with the intention of carrying out a full audit and inventory.

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