Cours Gallieni was historically one of the main arteries into and out of Bordeaux, forming the main road to Pessac and the primary esc...

Ghost signs galore on Cours Gallieni

Cours Gallieni was historically one of the main arteries into and out of Bordeaux, forming the main road to Pessac and the primary escape route to Arcachon. As such it was no doubt a highly strategic spot in terms of advertising potential and many vintage wall-painted signs and ads can still be seen today. Let me take you down because we’re going to... Cours Gallieni to view its ghost signs galore! 

We start at number 141 and Garage Bronchal, the side of which comprises a large-scale advert for Shell Oils, complete with logo… which appears to be the design that the company used between 1930 and 1948. The text proudly announces that Shell oil is “en vente ici” (on sale here), adding that every drop counts (“dont chaque goutte compte”).

On to numbers 176 and 214, where a number of messages are jostling for position. On the first, the word “quincaillerie” (hardware store) stands out, but has been painted over a message promoting “Quina-Médoc Cordier”, no doubt some form of alcoholic beverage (get in touch if you have more conclusive information than Google about what it might be!). That has also been pasted over a colourful sign saying “Esse---”… Essence perhaps?

On the second, there are now-layered advertisements, one for a restaurant “in a unique setting” (“dans un cadre unique”) while the other mysteriously promises the application of aviation technologies to keeping things cold (“la technique aviation au service du froid”). A strange link perhaps but the brand in question is Frigeavia, the 1970s white-goods branch of aircraft manufacturers Sud-Aviation, best-known for the Caravelle and Super-Caravelle (the concept of which formed the basis of what became the Concorde). Through various mergers Sud-Aviation went on to become Aérospatiale and later EADS, now the Airbus Group!

Here at number 198 is a well-preserved ad for Préfontaines, a “vin de table” (affordable wine comprised of output from unspecified regions) produced from the 1950s onwards by Dubonnet, a brand which has already been discussed on the blog.

Number 266 and this former wine storage depot, Cave de la Médoquine, is actually listed as an example of national cultural heritage in France. Judging by the “vendu” signs outside, the 19th-century building has recently changed hands! Let’s hope they don’t scrub off the painted sign promoting the building’s cork manufacturing business!

On to number 53 and the old entrance to what was once a blacksmith’s workshop and its charming signage. Did a charrier make horse carts perhaps? According to a reliable source, these exterior traces are all that remains of the building's previous function. The interior has now been converted into swish, ultra-modern living quarters.

The bar at number 209 scores double with an advert for furniture along the side of the building (although I feel there’s more to be uncovered there) and, on the main façade, a reminder of L’Eclipse’s old incarnation: Au Retour de Pessac, named as such presumably because patrons would stop off here for a drink on their way back from Pessac. A few further words remain just about legible (Débit et Restaurant) while a third line of words has more or less faded away for good.

And we finish off at number 192, on the corner of Rue de Coulmiers, where some modern street art takes up a substantial part of the building. In amongst the figures (originally faceless? the eyes and mouth of the guy on the left appear to have been added in...), the unmistakeable silhouette of the Pont d'Aquitaine can clearly be seen. Will this recent handiwork one day be ranked as a ghost sign like the others?  

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