Parc Ausone, to be found in the suburb of Bruges, is a recent addition to the local landscape and provides an unusual combination of woodlan...


Parc Ausone, to be found in the suburb of Bruges, is a recent addition to the local landscape and provides an unusual combination of woodland paths, play areas, and public artwork… not to mention a tall viewing tower, some snazzy metallic walkways and, best of all, a suspension footbridge. The park certainly deserved an exploratory visit. 


The innovative park first opened in September 2019, two years on from the purchase of twelve hectares of land by the local town council. The €2.3m landscaping assignment was conducted by the Floirac-based Graziella Barsacq and the Moonwalklocal architecture agency, and the project was an integral part of the extensive urban development of the surrounding area. 


Indeed, a whole new residential neighbourhood has, in effect, sprung out of nowhere over the past five years and, along with places to live and shop, the new arrivals deserved – and possibly needed – a bit of space to relax and unwind. Hence the creation of Parc Ausone, which the official literature inevitably refers to as a “poumon vert”, a “bulle de verdure” and, yes, “un parc écologique, durable et poétique”. My expectations were therefore running high when making my way to one of the no less than seven entrances to the park – which in itself is a symbolic demonstration of the intention to make the park as accessible as possible to local residents on all sides.

This map shows how the park is surrounded by residential districts on all sides, and also how the park itself loops all the way round a residential complex.


As there are seven entrances, what you get to see first depends on where your starting point is! In my case, I headed for the gate located close to the Ausone tram line C stop, and immediately found myself at the foot of the observatory tower which, along with the map at its base, was bound to be a useful introduction to the park. I climbed to the top to take in the panoramic view, but as I had unwittingly interrupted a couple of young lovebirds who were enjoying some quality high-rise downtime, as soon as I had taken my picture I made my excuses and left!   

The observation tower.

The view from the top!
From there a footpath leads down to what may be regarded as the heart of the park, and a narrow linear water feature runs alongside the path. It was almost dry when I was there, but its levels no doubt rise and fall according to the weather. The natural inclination is then to head right into the “chênaie centenaire” the 100-year-old oak forest, with its network of lanes meandering off in various directions. Two of the park’s most striking sights are to be found there in amongst the trees.


The first is the aforementioned suspension bridge, which stretches over a stream and connects ground level with another, higher entrance to the park. Although the bridge gently rocks and rolls, the non-slip surface of the platform makes it relatively accessible to all-comers, and above all it’s a very kid-friendly shade of bright red. (Let's get our priorities right!)



 

The second is “Le Livre de Sable”, a permanent art installation conceived by Moonwalklocal with the Paysagistes Sans Frontières collective. The piece was inspired by the 1975 book of the same name by Jorge Luis Borges and was originally designed for an international garden festival held in Chaumont-sur-Loire in 2018. Here the colour scheme shifts from red to a vivid blue, and the elements of the work connect and intertwine with the trees and bushes. If you want to take your understanding of the piece to higher levels, an information panel provides full details. For now, let’s just take away the fact that it makes for a surprising contrast with all the greenery.


Moving away from the woodland towards another entrance to the park, a spectacular and ever-so-slightly futuristic corten steel tunnel encases a footbridge over the ponds and wetlands that form a natural moat-like frontier to much the park. The design of the tunnel is reportedly reminiscent of the metal frames of the greenhouses built in the area by vegetable farmers. Whatever, its photogenic aesthetics will surely prove popular on Instagram… although I can’t say I’ve seen it crop up very often so far in my timeline.

The view from the footbridge.

Edging away from that entrance, benches and deck chairs are dotted around the park, alongside young pines. From here on the permanent backdrop is the succession of new-build apartment blocks that look straight out of an estate agent’s brochure. The buildings also poke out from above the trees by the children’s play area that brings a sudden rush of life and noise to proceedings. Rather than turn back, the journey ends with a walk through another corten steel arched passageway, which leads naturally into a residential complex and back out into the real world, i.e. Bruges proper!


So yeah, Parc Ausone certainly ticks a lot of the right boxes, bringing a much-needed expanse of vegetation in amongst the multiple constructions that have mushroomed throughout the area. I like to think that the first short visit took in most of the essential sights, but also sense that there are others remaining to be spotted and enjoyed, and that as the neigbourhood still seems to be work-in-progress, there may be further developments to come. 


Before signing off and, more importantly before you, dear reader, stop whatever it was you were doing to satisfy your sudden urge to go and visit Parc Ausone, be sure you don’t head there on a Monday because, bizarrely, the park is closed on Mondays – possibly some kind of veiled act of solidarity with the banks and hairdressers of France who are also for the most part closed on Mondays. Happily, other parks are available. 


> Find it on the Invisible Bordeaux map: Parc Ausone, Bruges.

> Cet article est également disponible en français !


This concise post was inspired by a Twitter publication showing an aerial view of London that also displayed the actual path of the Undergro...

This concise post was inspired by a Twitter publication showing an aerial view of London that also displayed the actual path of the Underground network. I trust that you will agree... a Bordeaux version of the picture needed to be designed!

The original aerial photo of Bordeaux was taken in January 2012, is credited to M.M. Minderhoud, and has been reused and adapted here under the Creative Commons license. The four tram lines have been cunningly overlaid on the picture through the not-very-expert use of elementary picture editing tools! Of course, one great regret is that a substantial part of the Metropole is not visible; therefore tram line A cuts off here before it reaches Cenon and Lormont, line B doesn’t quite reach Pont d’Aquitaine, and one branch of line C stops short of Bordeaux-Lac!

However, the picture does show just about the whole of Bordeaux proper, and pans out very nicely to the north, west, and south of the city. If you know of a more representative picture that could be used, get in touch and I’ll happily start again! In the meantime, I hope you like this first version!
 

> Download the high-resolution version of the picture here.


Note: The original London picture which inspired this post (available here) was notably shared by the historian, geographer and TV presenter Tim Dunn, and by Suede bassist Mat Osman. The photo was credited to DJ Santero while the Underground map was plotted by the urban developer and designer Martin Bangratz.

If you’re familiar with guidebooks to the cities of France, you’ll know all about Le Petit Futé , which produces a benchmark series of annua...

If you’re familiar with guidebooks to the cities of France, you’ll know all about Le Petit Futé, which produces a benchmark series of annual publications compiling top tips of things to see, places to go, and activities to enjoy.

Beyond being a straightforward guidebook, the Petit Futé “citybook” concept almost has a glossy magazine feel comprising articles and interviews with local players… and the 2021 Bordeaux citybook just happens to feature Invisible Bordeaux!

So pick up a copy and scroll through to page 8 to read about the story behind the Invisible Bordeaux blog, hear what makes the city so interesting in my eyes, and to see in print a couple of photos produced as part of my recent attempt to reproduce pictures taken by US students Steve and Patti Owen during their stay in Bordeaux in the early 1970s. And then stick around to take in everything else the guide has to offer; it really is an incredibly complete overview of everything you need to know about making the most out of the city.

Big thanks and appreciation to Petit Futé writer Laurène Delion for reaching out and producing the interview!


> You’ll find the 2021 Petit Futé Bordeaux citybook in bookshops in and around the city and beyond, as well as through online channels. The 256-page publication costs €5.95.
> Official website: www.petitfute.com


We like to think of mysteries surrounding a city such as Bordeaux as being very much associated with the past, but thankfully there are als...


We like to think of mysteries surrounding a city such as Bordeaux as being very much associated with the past, but thankfully there are also many modern-day mysteries that can be experienced very much in the present. Here are ten enigmas that haunt the good people of Bordeaux on a daily basis and which you too can enjoy in your own time. 

 

Where did all the public toilets go? 


Despite being a very tourist-friendly city, when those visitors (or, indeed, locals) need to respond to a call of nature, there are surprisingly few options. OK, so there are a few one-person-at-a-time “sanisette” installations dotted around the centre, but other than the inevitable wait while a previous user finishes up and the toilet is cleaned, it’s not exactly a very hospitable environment, and the piped music that plays while you’re inside is unreal. There are still a few “vespasienne” gentlemen-only urinals here and there (rue Robert-Lateulade and rue Paul-Broca, as pictured above, for instance), and back-to-basics toilets can be found in the Jardin de l’Hôtel de Ville and Parc Bordelais, but other than that the best option is to head for a shopping mall or a bar.

Which tram line is which at the Quinconces tram interchange station? 


Even when you’re familiar with the Bordeaux tram system, the Quinconces public transport hub can be a complex beast to master. There are four platforms that sit side by side with minimal visible indications as to which line is which, let alone which trams are heading north, south, east or west. To add an extra dimension to the challenge, one set of tracks is home to both lines C and D. One of the most spectacular sights in the city is that of passengers jumping off a south-bound Line B tram and rushing across the various lines to catch a south-bound Line C or Line D tram. It doesn’t always end well but makes for excellent spectator sport, which can also be enjoyed on a slightly smaller scale at Porte de Bourgogne station.

How many more Bistro Régent restaurants can the Metropole sustain?


Since its creation in 2010, the Bistro Régent concept of a minimalist menu and its “fameuse sauce Charmelcia” (so famous that I had to google the name, it’s not exactly entered anybody’s vocabulary) has developed quickly in and around Bordeaux, making the franchise’s founder Marc Vanhove a wealthy man and enabling him to branch out elsewhere in France, as well as displaying his logo on the shirts of the local Girondins de Bordeaux football team. In and around Bordeaux, it has got to the stage where just about every vacant building seems to have been turned into a Bistro Régent in recent years, resulting in an incredible statistic that I’ve just made up: wherever you are in the Bordeaux Métropole, you’re never more than a 10-minute walk from a Bistro Régent. That is either very reassuring or very scary. 

 

How do you get back to ground level from the Mériadeck quarter?

The Mériadeck quarter has often been covered on the blog. This large-scale urban experiment, which mainly developed throughout the 1970s and 1980s, is clearly unloved by the locals for various understandable reasons. One of the main specifics of the modern-day Mériadeck quarter is how raised walkways connect its different sections. In most parts it is fairly straightforward to get back down to ground level, but in some areas it can all be a bit hit and miss. Some of the secret stairwells are not signposted, some escalators are permanently out of order, and in places where you would expect to be able to get back down, you come up against a brick wall. 

 

How can Saint-Christoly shopping centre still be a thing?

If you’re in central Bordeaux on a busy Saturday afternoon and in search of some peace and quiet, just head to Saint-Christoly shopping centre. This 1980s complex, which is just a stone’s throw from place Pey-Berland and rue Sainte-Catherine, seems to have faded completely from the collective conscience of Bordeaux shoppers. Back in the day, a buzzing Fnac music and bookstore occupied the basement area and drew many visitors in search of the latest cultural offerings. Ever since the Fnac relocated to rue Sainte-Catherine, the mall has struggled to draw in customers other than those heading to the Monoprix which took Fnac’s place and the Picard frozen food store. Even before the 2020 health crisis, many of the smaller outlets were struggling here. Not sure how bright the future currently looks for Saint-Christoly*.

 

*Update: a Sud Ouest article published late December 2020 stated that the shopping centre was under new ownership and that it "will be subject to 'major restructuring' and its concept will be 'completely revisited'."  

 

Where exactly does the Pont Saint-Jean cycle path begin?

Pont Saint-Jean is the Bordeaux bridge that you never see on Instagram. The no-frills structure from the car-friendly 1960s also happens to provide a convenient and safe means of crossing the Garonne for pedestrians and cyclists alike. But the main challenge is simply to find how to access the bridge at all, given the density of the surrounding road network. Spoiler: the cycle path actually begins at an underpass towards the rear of a car park located opposite the Château Descas mansion, although the fact that the car park currently doubles up as a station where low-cost coach services depart and arrive makes it even more difficult to find the passageway. It is worth the effort though in order to take in the view across the Bordeaux skyline from the middle of the bridge! 

 

How come there are never any pile-ups between cyclists and pedestrians on the Garonne waterfront? 

The Garonne waterfront is one of the symbols of the transformation of Bordeaux and has become one of the go-to areas for a pleasant stroll. It also happens to be a magnet for joggers, skateboarders, rollerbladers and cyclists, and how there are not more collisions between people is one of the city’s greatest mysteries. Markings have nevertheless recently appeared in an attempt to at least channel the flows of walkers and joggers on the promenade which runs immediately alongside the river. However, the really hazardous hotspot is over by the multiple lanes of road traffic, where cyclists in a hurry are forced to cohabit with nonchalant pedestrians. What could possibly go wrong? Well, a great deal, although somehow it just about works. 

 

Why didn’t the Utopia cinema go all the way and just install their screens on the ceiling?

L'Utopia is the much-loved arthouse cinema that is the latest incarnation of what used to be Saint-Siméon church on Place Camille-Jullian. Some of the cinema’s smaller screens have been set up in an annex to the rear of the building, and so that all spectators can enjoy an unobscured view of the films, the screens have been installed at an impressive height. The stargazing position can initially seem surprising but you gradually get used to the concept. 

 

Why does nobody ever know where they are when exiting the UGC cinema? 

Sticking with cinemas, around the UGC complex on rue Georges-Bonnac, a regular sight is that of cinema-goers emerging from hidden exits with no idea of where they are. The cinema, installed in a building which used to house a theatre, comprises no less than 18 screens, some of which are at ground level, some upstairs, and some underground. The exits from the individual rooms lead to various spots around the complex and it invariably takes some time to find one’s bearings and work out where one has ended up. 

 

Will the anarchic queuing system at Mollat ever return?
 

There were not many upsides to the 2020 health crisis, but one may have been the renowned independent bookshop Mollat using floor markings to formalize the queue system at the checkouts, which are positioned along the side of a wall in a narrow corridor-like space ahead of an exit. In the old days, the queues had to stretch some way back before some kind of system naturally took shape. Before reaching that stage, several parallel lines would gather ahead of each checkout, with much jostling for position and discreet eye contact between customers as each opted for the checkout which they thought would progress the fastest. This inevitably resulted in a sense of injustice as three customers would get served at the neighbouring till in the time it took the person in front of you to purchase their single paperback. Will the anarchy of yesteryear return in the future or is the current formal queuing system here to stay? That, dear reader, truly is a veritable modern-day Bordeaux mystery.


> Ce dossier est également disponible en français !

Invisible Bordeaux is proud to have made a repeat appearance in the latest issue of Bordeaux Moments , Bordeaux Tourism's most excellent...

Invisible Bordeaux is proud to have made a repeat appearance in the latest issue of Bordeaux Moments, Bordeaux Tourism's most excellent quarterly bilingual travel and lifestyle magazine. 

 

In the article, I provide a few suggestions of unusual outings in and around Bordeaux to be enjoyed, you know, when we're allowed to get out and about once again. The list of tips take the reader from the Parc Floral to Pessac's Cité Frugès, along the Eau Bourde stream, and over to Lormont to the national social security museum

 

In non-lockdown times, the magazine - which features a host of great items including some interesting suggestions of activities to take in with children, a guide to winter getaways on the Bassin d'Arcachon, and advice on where to find houses whose façades include sculpted cats - can be picked up in local "offices de tourisme", hotel lobbies, and municipal buildings such as mairies

> Or else, you can simply read it by clicking here. Enjoy!

Place Ravezies is one of the main entry points into Bordeaux proper and has long since been a public transport hub. Until 2012 it was also t...


Place Ravezies is one of the main entry points into Bordeaux proper and has long since been a public transport hub. Until 2012 it was also the location of Ravezies railway station, which was for many years the terminus of railway connections from the Médoc peninsula. That final portion of rail travel has in recent years switched from trains to a new branch of tram line C (with the creation of the tram-train connection in Blanquefort), and in 2015 the Ravezies station was dismantled for good, leaving nothing more than a derelict open space and the abandoned railway track.

The local authorities (Bordeaux Métropole with the Bruges and Le Bouscat town councils) put on their thinking caps, and soon came up with an idea to embellish the area in a way that also tied in with the Métropole’s "55 000 hectares pour la nature" programme aimed at incorporating and preserving nature and greenery in amongst new urban developments. The "Ligne verte" project quickly took shape! 




The brief involved converting 3.1 kilometres of the former line into a very eco-friendly walkway/cycle path, connecting Place Ravezies with residential quarters of Le Bouscat, with various low-key sights and activities to take in along the way. And, although work is still in progress and the "green line" is not quite the finished product, the walkway opened to the general public this year, so it made sense to head along and check it out.

The first major challenge though was simply reaching the start of the green line at Ravezies. The area located by what used to be the station is a car park that is a Tetris-style mass of automobiles that has to be ploughed through Indiana Jones-style to reach the path, which at this point in time is not signposted.

 

The entrance is... somewhere in the background of this shot!

Wooden barriers have been positioned at the entrance to the walk, and a handful of surviving poles, buffers and raised platforms serve as a reminder of the place’s past life. Before setting off, I attempted to replicate the photo I’d taken in 2012 around the time when the station was decommissioned.



Above: the view in 2012.
The same view today...

There was soon another reminder of the path’s railway heritage with the "petit train de Ravezies", a small wooden steam train/play area designed for children to get a train driver’s eye view of the track! (See picture at top of article.) The former lines remain visible, embedded into the surface of the path, and before long the walkway passed under a series of metal arches that previously held the overhead electric cables.

Another brand new children’s play area appeared, this time comprising swings, a hut and a slide, although this particular blogger got a bit more excited about the nearby sight of "le bassin de stockage des eaux de pluie Béquigneaux", one of the Métropole’s many defences against flooding in the area, there to stock excess rainwater whenever required, as detailed in a previous Invisible Bordeaux item about the network of "detention basins". The Béquigneaux flood plain, created in 1987, is an extensive beast, and can reportedly stock up to 102,800 cubic metres of water.


Part of the magnificent (and reassuringly dry) Béquigneaux flood plain.

Other than that, the surrounding landscape was made up of private allotments, back gardens and high-rise apartment blocks in the mid-distance, until it was broken up by a rather cool BMX dirt track that was being put to the test by a number of young riders. Before long, the pathway hooked up with the new tram line around the delightfully-named "La Vache" station and neighbourhood, with the grounds of a Bouscatais mansion on one side and one of Bruges’s municipal cemeteries on the other. Let’s just say there was a definite sense of space in spite of the urban environment, and the remaining walls blocking the view did not appear to be the most durable - but for now they do form great raw materials for street artists.


From then on, the disused railway line reappears and the path runs alongside it until, when reaching a bend, it comes to an abrupt, unexpected and, yes, premature end. There was no choice other than to leave the pathway, which I was happy to find naturally leads into the Gourribon housing estate, which has already enjoyed a starring role on the blog. By winding back towards the former railway line, there were promising signs that a further stretch of the green line appears to be in the making, and that will ultimately link up this area with Le Bouscat’s avenue de la Libération. The information panel on display promised that this "Phase 5" would be complete in 2020, but I think we’re all collectively prepared to provide extra leeway to anything that should have been delivered in 2020…


The "green line" comes to a sudden and unspectacular end here.
Information panel promising an additional stretch.

How does Invisible Bordeaux rate this new "Ligne verte", then? Well, it’s an interesting initiative and no doubt the residents of the Gourribon estate are delighted to now have such a pleasant direct connection with Place Ravezies! It’s most definitely a very enjoyable walkway but is a touch short as far as cycle rides go. The three kilometres whizz by and, when you consider that the standout visual delight is an emergency rainwater reservoir, then you just know that it’s never going to be be a serious competitor in those online "The World’s Greatest Bike Rides" listings. The message therefore is walk rather than ride! But fair play to everyone involved in creating this linear channel that provides a peaceful pathway running between Bruges and Le Bouscat, and is an innovative way of bringing another old railway track back to life.

> Find it on the Invisible Bordeaux map: former Ravezies railway station, place Ravezies, Bordeaux (departure point).
> Cet article est également disponible en français !

Invisible Bordeaux recently picked up a series of postcards showing different stages of a funeral procession through the streets of the city...


Invisible Bordeaux recently picked up a series of postcards showing different stages of a funeral procession through the streets of the city centre in the early years of the 20th century. The event was clearly a big deal, as the pictures showed enormous crowds lining the route, with many people also peering out from windows and balconies to pay their final respects. This was in fact the city’s final goodbye to Cardinal Victor Lecot. So who was Cardinal Lecot and why was his funeral such a momentous event?

Victor Lucien Sulpice Lecot (or Lécot) was born in January 1831 in north-eastern France. Aged 24 he became a priest in Compiègne, to the north of Paris, ahead of being ordained bishop of Dijon (in 1886). Then, in June 1890, he was appointed to be archbishop of Bordeaux, at a time when the Catholic church was stronger than ever in the city, with new congregations coming together in all quarters (he consecrated Saint-Louis-des-Chartrons in 1895) and the church’s influence even seeping into the press through the publication of Le Nouvelliste de Bordeaux et du Sud-Ouest… renowned for its royalist, anti-Republican tendencies!

Lecot remained archbishop of Bordeaux until his death but was also elevated to cardinal in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII, and appointed cardinal-priest to Santa Pudenziana basilica in Rome the following year. He was one of the members of the conclave that elected Pius X, and was himself Papal Legate at celebrations held in Lourdes in 1908 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the supposed appearances of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous.

In France, the start of the twentieth century was a tumultuous period, with the official split between Church and State (and the start of the French Republic’s notable secular status, or “laïcité”) occurring in 1905 after 25 years of embattled debate opposing different views of the role of the Church. As you might imagine, Lecot was very much on the side of those wanting to retain close ties between Church and State, whilst also striving to do everything in his powers to avoid any form of conflict even if he was unable to prevent mass protests from being held.

And tensions were still high when Lecot died on December 19th 1908 in Chambéry, in eastern France. His funeral was held eleven days later, on December 28th, in Bordeaux. The authorities were aware that the funeral procession would draw mourners in their thousands, but also that the event could easily spark trouble.

Top - The funeral procession on Place de la Bourse. Bottom - The horse-drawn hearse carrying the coffin.

The most complete account of the event has been written by one Annie Ribette and can be read on the Cahiers d’Archives website. Ribette notes that the following day’s edition of Le Nouvelliste reported that nearly 2,000 men (soldiers and gendarmes) were in position from 7am onwards to keep the crowds under control along the route of the funeral cortege and to prevent intruders from infiltrating the procession (a special laissez-passer was required in order to join the ranks of the procession).

Ribette’s report features many archive documents, including the official laissez-passer, which records that Lecot’s corpse was scheduled to be removed from Notre-Dame church at 9am. Photographic evidence suggests that the procession then worked its way towards Place de la Comédie, along Cours de l’Intendance, down rue Vital-Carles (where the Archbishop of Bordeaux’s former official residence was located, although it had become home to Gironde’s prefect... in itself a massive source of tension), and then on to place Pey-Berland, no doubt finishing up at Saint-André cathedral, although it is unclear whether Lecot’s remains were immediately assigned to the tomb which is now his.  


Top - The funeral procession moves along Cours de l'Intendance, with many onlookers peering down from windows and balconies. Bottom - The Pontifical Swiss Guard was on hand.

It is thought that 50,000 people were present along the route to pay their final respects to Lecot, although the heavy-handed security came in for a great deal of criticism. Annie Ribette refers to the socialist union and revolutionary political newspaper La Bataille reporting on the “state of siege” in Bordeaux, adding that those people “who had travelled from all parts of the city and region were prevented from saluting the remains of the Cardinal of Bordeaux. The troops who had barricaded the city’s streets had been ordered to turn their backs to the cortege. Those honours could have been dispensed without preventing the public from attending the funeral”. That same newspaper underlined the fact that Lecot’s passing was in no way acknowledged by the French Republic, as since the “law of separation”, ecclesiastical dignitaries like Cardinal Lecot no longer enjoyed any form of official status in the eyes of the Republic.


The procession reaches Place Pey-Berland. 

Even without this Republican recognition, there was a definite sense locally of how historic the occasion was. Several requests for authorisation were submitted with a view to capturing the event on film, this being the early days of cinematography. Looking at the wide angle photographs of the procession on Place de la Comédie, it is striking how many photographers and filmmakers are present. But beyond the stills such as those featured here, how much of that movie coverage has survived, if any?


A closer look at the group of photographers and cinematographers gathered on Place de la Comédie.

And what traces remain of Cardinal Lecot himself in the city? Of course, the most symbolic and prominent memorial is none other than the cardinal’s monumental tomb inside Saint-André cathedral. His first name was also given to Saint-Victor church on rue Mouneyra in Bordeaux, founded in 1905 while Lecot was still Archbishop of Bordeaux, although the current edifice was built during the Second World War period and finally consecrated in 1947. Oh, and there is also a street named after him in Bordeaux and a "Cardinal Lecot" bus stop in Blanquefort, which is no doubt exactly what the great man would have wanted.

Above - Cardinal Lecot's final resting place inside Bordeaux cathedral.

Above - Saint-Victor church on rue Mouneyra. Below - The ultimate accolade: Lecot has his own posthumous bus stop in Blanquefort.

And, of course, what also remains are those incredible pictures of the city, showing scenes that Bordeaux is unlikely to see again anytime soon, and scenes that alone do not tell the full story!

> Locate Saint-Victor church on the Invisible Bordeaux map: rue Mouneyra, Bordeaux.
> Cardinal Lecot picture source: Wikipedia
> As stated throughout, the most complete account of this event can be found on the Cahiers d'Archives website
> Ce dossier est également disponible en français ! 

Invisible Bordeaux was one of a number of local structures and players who contributed to an innovative project focused on heritage in the a...


Invisible Bordeaux was one of a number of local structures and players who contributed to an innovative project focused on heritage in the area conducted this year by Bordeaux Métropole in conjunction with Deux Degrés, the publishing house and “agence de médiation” who have already occasionally featured on the blog (and, by the way, I’m a big fan of everything they do). The deliverables were recently unveiled and they consist of two highly desirable sets of cards, one being a “Happy Families” game and the other a classic deck of playing cards.

The twin objective of the project, codenamed “Vous avez une carte à jouer”, was to be able to identify and showcase some familiar and some lesser-known places of interest throughout the metropole, as well as providing a platform for local heritage associations and players to work together and get to know each other. The initiative was launched within the framework of the wider European Atlas World Heritage network aimed at boosting the sustainability of urban heritage (the other participating cities are Edinburgh, Florence, Porto and Santiago de Compostela), and the target was to complete it all in time for Bordeaux’s 2020 World Heritage week events in mid-September.

Above - Panels on display on Place de la Bourse explaining all about the Atlas World Heritage initiative during the city's 2020 World Heritage week.

Initially, the plan drawn up early in 2020 by Bordeaux Métropole and Deux Degrés was to hold meetings and collaborative workshops but - as you may have guessed - the pandemic-induced lockdown forced them to substantially revise their plans. Instead, the whole project shifted online and they conceived interactive maps so that those who wished to take part could locate points of interest and provide the reasoning behind their inclusion.

No less than 60 structures took part, identifying 400 points of interest, a shortlist of which was put to a vote in which 110 participants chose the subjects they thought to be the most significant. Then, by combining those results with other balanced choices to ensure every Bordeaux Métropole town was fairly represented, Deux Degrés got to work on producing the two card games.

Above - Even my hometown of Saint-Aubin-de-Médoc gets its own cards. These two sights are within walking distance of the Invisible Bordeaux household.

The resulting “Happy Families” game is aimed at a younger audience and has gathered points of interest into seven categories… or, indeed, families: nature, industry, water, habitat, monuments, contemporary architecture and châteaux. Each family comprises six members, the corresponding 42 cards featuring illustrations produced by the immensely talented Julianne Huon - whose style has become so synonymous with the distinctive Deux Degrés graphic look and feel over the years - and a brief overview of associated facts and figures. Interestingly, if the cards are laid out face down, they can also be positioned puzzle-like to form a far larger illustration reminiscent of the Bordeaux Métropole landscape.



The standard 52-card game (or rather 54 including the two jokers) provides a highly varied guide to some of the area’s well- and less well-known sights, along with a leaflet so that players can read thumbnail information about each one. The illustrations are the work of the also fabulously talented Jean Mallard. He is a young Paris-based artist with family in the area, but was not necessarily familiar with many of the sights. During a brief post-lockdown window, he was able to spend two days exploring the metropole and taking in the subjects shortlisted for the project. The resulting pictures capture much of that bright-eyed sense of discovery associated with seeing places for the first time. Mallard employed a variety of techniques, although the use of watercolour proves dominant. He also voluntarily kept to a relatively limited palette of colours in order to strike a degree of consistency across the cards. And to inject some life into the pictures, he always ensured there was some kind of human presence represented.

During an event held in September at the Maison Cantonale in the Bastide quarter (which itself features in the deck of cards) to present the finalized project to the network of contributors, both Julianne Huon and Jean Mallard were present to provide a first-hand account of their work, alongside Deux Degrés’ Pierre-Marie Villette and Bordeaux Métropole’s Anne-Laure Moniot. Jean Mallard even brought along the original artwork, i.e. all fifty-plus postcard-sized pieces which showed just how intricate and detailed the individual creations were.


Above - Illustrator Jean Mallard with the original pictures. On the right is his depiction of Stade Chaban-Delmas, included in the card deck under its former name, Parc Lescure.

The two sets have initially been produced as limited runs of just 500 units and were distributed throughout the World Heritage week from a special pop-up installation/mini-exhibition on Place de la Bourse. Beyond that, sets will be provided to libraries throughout the Métropole. Further down the line, a commercially-produced run may take shape… I for one certainly hope so.


Above - The pop-up exhibition on Place de la Bourse.

In the meantime, here at Invisible Bordeaux I am very proud to have been able to contribute to the project, and delighted to have seen some of my submissions (such as Bordeaux’s twin city gardens, Le Haillan’s Parc du Ruisseau, and the lone locomotive left positioned at the former railway station in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles) make it into the final sets of cards, all of which are really rather magnificent.
 


It all goes to show there’s very much an audience for local heritage, or petit patrimoine as they say in French… and it’s great to see Bordeaux Métropole is taking this very seriously as well as looking to bring local heritage players together on projects of the like. Congratulations to everyone involved!


> Deux Degrés website: www.deuxdegres.net

> Ce dossier est également disponible en français !