The end of 2013 will soon be upon us and the time is therefore right to finish off the calendar year with a couple of items that look b...

2013 in review: the year’s most-read Invisible Bordeaux items

The end of 2013 will soon be upon us and the time is therefore right to finish off the calendar year with a couple of items that look back on some of the features that ran on Invisible Bordeaux over the past twelve months. This first set compiles the five most-read articles. Feel free to click on the titles or associated pictures to read the items!
5. Le Chapon Fin
At the time of writing, I have yet to enjoy the full-on Chapon Fin dining experience. That’s a minor detail though because the Invisible Bordeaux item focused not so much on the food but rather on the history of this famous restaurant, detailing the preferences of some of its more illustrious diners and its bit-part in wartime history as the backdrop to the arrest of French politician Georges Mandel. The article was the end-product of a European heritage day visit, hence the distinct lack of dining “action” on the photos I took!
4. The Wallace fountains of Bordeaux
Wallace cast-iron drinking fountains are so synonymous with Paris that it came as quite a surprise to see that there were a fair number dotted around Bordeaux. By doing a little bit of homework I did my best to track them down although the actual fountain tally isn’t quite so clear-cut: some of the original 19th-century models have moved or are unaccounted for, and more recent models have also popped up. Meanwhile one fountain has gone AWOL as a new shopping centre takes shape! So, are you confused as to exactly how many Wallace fountains can be found in the city? Hopefully the article will clear things up!
3. Cité Frugès
The suburb of Pessac is home to one of the most revolutionary housing developments of the 20th century, Le Corbusier’s “Quartiers Modernes Frugès”. After many years of rejection and neglect, the fifty houses are now acknowledged as a case study in affordable, modular social housing and, almost 90 years on, still look timelessly modern. The town of Pessac has even acquired one of the houses which serves as a permanent walk-in exhibit and is an essential stop for anyone interested in history, architecture, or indeed the history of architecture. It was my first stop when researching this piece…
2. Mériadeck
Unloved by some, misunderstood by others, and cherished by a select handful, the Mériadeck quarter is unlike any other district in the city. Work-in-progress since the 1960s, the area is still evolving and is a far cry from the seedy low-rise slums that used to be located there. Mériadeck is also a case study in the modernist “urbanisme sur dalle” philosophy which aimed to segregate pedestrians and vehicles. Written after a Sunday stroll in this area, which is very much driven by its business and administrative activities, what was most striking about my time there was the complete lack of people when the nearby heart of the city centre was buzzing.
1. Operation Frankton and the Cockleshell heroes
This year’s most-read item is the tale of the remarkable commando raid on the port of Bordeaux led by the British Royal Marines in December 1942. The suicide mission involved five two-man canoes navigating down the Gironde Estuary to plant limpet mines on German cargo ships. Every day, hundreds walk past the plaque commemorating the heroism of the canoeists whose actions, despite their limited material impact, proved to be a morale-boosting operation for the Allies. Hopefully the Invisible Bordeaux piece will have helped shed some light on why the plaque should not go unnoticed!

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