Over the years, I seem to have amassed a bit of a collection of old postcards showing various sights and scenes in and around Bordeaux...

Parc Lescure/Stade Chaban-Delmas... as featured on old postcards

Over the years, I seem to have amassed a bit of a collection of old postcards showing various sights and scenes in and around Bordeaux. A recurring theme that I often find myself drawn to is the old Stade Municipal, known these days as Stade Chaban-Delmas, although most Bordelais prefer to refer to it as Parc Lescure... so here is a selection of those cards!

This historic city-centre stadium (the subject of a full Invisible Bordeaux report some years ago) is associated by many with local football team Girondins de Bordeaux, although it is now the permanent home of top-flight rugby team Union Bordeaux-Bègles. If you're familiar with the stadium as a spectator, you may be surprised to see some of these pictures, starting with this one which shows the entrance to the "tribune d'honneur" on match day. Check out the smart spectators and the elegant automobiles - parking didn't appear to be a big issue!    

The curious photo below somehow manages to get the full width of the arena into shot. Judging by the distortion, it looks like some form of fisheye lens must have been used. Note the steps down to the underground tunnel which led to and from the dressing rooms located in adjacent buildings. Later, the tunnel was diverted under the main stand towards the middle of the pitch. What are those panels with numbers on them bottom right? Part of the scoreboard system?

This next picture was taken from more or less the same spot, but sections either side of the underground tunnel access appear have been modified, presumably to cater for some form of athletic competition. What are the metallic structures laid out on the ground at either end of the pitch? Dismantled temporary stands?

Looking at the picture below, the area around the tunnel looks different once again. Could that be some form of ramp which has been installed to make it easier to wheel bicycles into the stadium? Judging by the position of the cyclists towards what must be the top of the ramp, that might just be the case. Don't let the rugby posts mislead you: the only activity going on here is cycling - even the people you can make out on the pitch (other that those who are sat down) are actually on their bikes.

This next picture was taken up in the stands and gives an idea of how comfortable the seating arrangements were! There are no football or rugby posts on the pitch itself, but have you noticed that there is a full-on six-lane running track alongside the cycle track?

There are a few more people on the next shot! It appears to be a cycling event, and there is a whole row of punters standing just by the track getting ready to cheer on their champion!

The caption of the next picture (postmarked 1951) reads "Le grand tournant nord. Le contrôle." The white pole and rostrum therefore marks the point where the progress of cyclists was monitored as they sped around the track, and was no doubt the finishing line too. Bottom right, you can even spot the bell which rang out before the last laps!

As detailed in the previous Invisible Bordeaux article about the stadium, the cycle track, which hosted events such as the arrival of a Tour de France stage as recently as 1979, was removed in the 1980s in order to increase the venue's overall capacity. A new velodrome, the Stadium de Bordeaux, opened in the Lac district to the north of the city in 1989. The picture below shows another cycle race in progress.  

Another full house at Lescure, but what have they come to see? Could the linesman visible to the right, running at top speed along the touchline, be about to call a footballer offside? The gendarme standing in the bright sunshine towards the middle of the picture certainly appears to be more focused on the game than on any potential crowd trouble in the stands!

The following is only the second of this series of postcards to also include a handwritten message ("Je suis reçu. J'arrive demain soir, vendredi, avec tout un chargement de valises, Pierrot") and a date (1954). The gymnastics gala in progress (described overleaf as an "Exercice d'ensemble en face des tribunes") must have been a daunting experience for the hundreds of children involved, under the guidance of their conductor positioned on the (multi-purpose) platform over to the left!

> Find it on the Invisible Bordeaux map: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux. 
> A fine book about the history of the stadium and some of the Girondins footballing legends who called the place home was recently produced by the most excellent local journalists Julien Bée and Laurent Brun. Heavily recommended! See: https://www.mollat.com/livres/2124781/julien-bee-lescure-et-les-girondins-le-rendez-vous-des-legendes
> The full Invisible Bordeaux article about the history of the stadium is available here: http://invisiblebordeaux.blogspot.fr/2013/02/stade-chaban-delmas-nearing-end-of-its.html
> Ce dossier est également disponible en français ! 

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At various locations in the quiet western Bordeaux quarter of Caudéran, traces can still be spotted of the coat of arms that was Caudér...

The snails of Caudéran

At various locations in the quiet western Bordeaux quarter of Caudéran, traces can still be spotted of the coat of arms that was Caudéran’s when it was a separate town. Surprisingly, the crest features three snails. The explanation had better be a good one! 

Caudéran was an independent town until 1965 when it merged with its more imposing neighbour Bordeaux, a move which was no doubt in everybody’s interest although it is often murmured that the move was primarily instigated by Bordeaux’s mayor Jacques Chaban-Delmas. By becoming part of the wider city, the 29,000 residents of this well-to-do district (referred to as the “Neuilly of Bordeaux”) would help swell the conservative Chaban-Delmas’s electoral base. In return, they did get to keep their own 33200 postcode...

Source: Wikipedia.
All of which is fine, but where do snails come into it? Well, it turns out that for much of the 19th century and through until the early years of the 20th century, Caudéran didn’t enjoy the bourgeois status it commands today, and was instead a wilder patch of land more naturally associated with its roster of up to 70 bars, inns, cabarets and guinguettes… all of which lay conveniently close to Bordeaux, but also happened to be beyond the “barrières” where “octroi” offices (a previous Invisible Bordeaux subject) had been set up to collect duty on goods being brought into the city. Caudéran was basically a duty-free leisure haven.

The most famous and festive date in Caudéran’s calendar year was Ash Wednesday (mercredi des cendres). Any self-respecting Bordelais would have spent the previous days partaking in carnival-themed shenanigans through until Shrove Tuesday (mardi gras). Just before the sobering period of Lent kicked in, Ash Wednesday became synonymous with one final day of food, drink and general partying in Caudéran, the huge crowds of people mingling with each other in carnival masks and fancy dress… and, you guessed it, the de facto meal was a plate of snails. 

Place Lestonnat: one of the focal points of Caudéran's traditional Ash Wednesday celebrations.
Indeed, in amongst the vines, flowers and marshland in the area at the time, snails were commonplace and had developed into something of a local speciality supplied by Caudéran’s “cagouillards” (“cagouille” being the Charentais term for snail that was naturally transposed into Bordeaux's Bordeluche patois). So much so that one of Caudéran’s most famous restaurants at the time, on Place de Lestonnat, was none other than À la Renommée des Escargots. When a local Caudéran newspaper (the offices of which were in central Bordeaux) was launched in 1896, it was naturally given the name “L’Escargot”. Finally, Caudéran even incorporated snails into the town’s Gascon motto: “Lou limac cendrenous a fait ma renoumade” (a rough translation could be "Renowned for the ash snail").

The Ash Wednesday tradition died out during the First World War, just as Caudéran began developing into the residential quarter we are now familiar with. But the snail connection lived on in the shape of the town’s coat of arms, hence the designs that can still be seen above the door and on the exterior of what was the town’s mairie, above the door of the municipal police station, and on the war memorial where Caudéran’s standing as a “ville” lives on, carved in stone.
The old town hall (now a mairie de quartier).
The pleasingly bizarre police station.
The war memorial, frozen in an era when Caudéran was still a ville.
Visiting the area today and checking out some of the restaurants in Caudéran, I fail to find a single mention of snails on the menu (possibly the first time I have been disappointed not to spot snails in among the culinary options on offer). However, the snail connection is gradually being revived as the local association Vivre à Caudéran has recently begun organising modern-day “Fête de l’Escargot” celebrations in July of each year on Caudéran church square.

And, it could be argued that the taste of the Caudéran snails lives on, handed down by generations of locals. To get a feel of what those festive snails must have tasted like back in the day, tinned “Escargots à la Bordelaisecan easily be purchased, and there are also plenty of recipes readily available online... although I am reluctant to try any of them myself! Bon appétit nevertheless! 

> Much of the information in this piece was compiled from an article written by Philippe Prévôt and Richard Zéboulon (collectively known as Cadish) for Sud Ouest which also features in their book Bordeaux, petits secrets et grandes histoires, and from the entry about Caudéran in Jean-Jacques Déogracias’s Blasons des communes de la Gironde (thanks Guillaume!).
> Thanks Vincent for the linguistic tips! 
> Ce dossier est également disponible en français !

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