Bordeaux Safari’s tagline is that it is “le guide dont vous êtes le héros”, in other words the reader is the central character and the book serves as an interactive roleplaying device that moves the aforementioned hero from point to point throughout Bordeaux, seeing and experiencing the different facets of the city. And so it was that early on a sunny Sunday morning, I set off on my bicycle without knowing where exactly I was headed.
There are different ways of using the guidebook, choosing your starting point according to the time of day or according to a specific desire, say. I instead opted to pick a neighbourhood, and decided to go for one which is not a natural destination for me: “Bordeaux Sud”, i.e. page 43 of the book.
That is how I ended up on Cours de la Marne, which was already in full swing with people drawn to the area to stock up on groceries at the Marché des Capucins. This is a rootsier Bordeaux than the smooth Unesco-friendly areas further north. The guidebook suggested I check out the hairdressing salons offering “tresses africaines”. I spotted a couple but they were both closed, plus my hair isn’t exactly made for braids, so instead I turned into Cours de l’Yser to find Bordeaux Safari’s recommended Portuguese drinking hole, Le Contraste.
|As loyal readers already know, Invisible Bordeaux enjoys featuring hairdressers.|
|Inside Le Contraste. Most definitely not the kind of place where your name gets written on a plastic cup.|
|By Palais Gallien, smell of roast chicken not included.|
By “fauna” they were referring to the two bronze tortoises created by Czech artist Ivan Theimer, which appear to be a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. Staying put for a few minutes and enjoying the endless view along the full length of Rue Sainte-Catherine, I was reminded of what a diverse, cosmopolitan hub La Victoire really is: dads with pushchairs, mums with toddlers, old people, young people, people hanging around with no visible purpose, people carrying surfboards, people carrying groceries, joggers carrying baguettes, you name it, all human life is here (to quote The Divine Comedy, who I was delighted to find out will be performing at Le Fémina in February 2017).
While humming a Divine Comedy tune to myself, I made my way to my next stop: Place Sainte-Croix. The book promised me a delightful aperitif in the shade of the trees, but none of the bars had yet to open their doors – so I’ll have to take Bordeaux Safari’s word for it. Instead I checked out forthcoming shows as advertised outside the TnBA (Théâtre national de Bordeaux en Aquitaine), then admired the spectacular façade of Sainte-Croix church – while doing my best to ignore a fellow cyclist urinating in full view just a few metres away. Note to mayor Alain Juppé: there are possibly not enough public toilets in Bordeaux.
|Outside the TNBA and traces of Café Pompier's past life (poste de secours contre l'incendie).|
|Game over outside the Utopia cinema.|
- Bordeaux Safari can be found in bookshops in and around Bordeaux and elsewhere, or else online at http://boutique.deuxdegres.net along with similar publications about Paris, Grenoble and, coming soon, Saint-Etienne.
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