Architect and friend of the blog Mathias Cisnal has penned a book, published by Éditions Le Festin, about his specialist subject: the distri...

Recommended reading: Mathias Cisnal’s guide to the Mériadeck quarter

Architect and friend of the blog Mathias Cisnal has penned a book, published by Éditions Le Festin, about his specialist subject: the district of Bordeaux which is like no other, Mériadeck! And, guess what, the book is rather brilliant!


Anyway, did you know that the central esplanade of the Mériadeck quarter is, in essence, built on a mass formed by the compacted rubble of the houses that used to stand there? Did you also know that 35 years passed between plans being drawn up for a building to fill the space between the Ibis and Novotel hotels, and that building actually being completed (now known as Immeuble Laure-Gatet)? And did you know that somewhere in the depths of Meriadeck, a room houses a slot car racing club with several circuits, including a wooden one dating from the 1960s?


Well, those are just some of the more unusual facts shared by Mathias in the 96-page, heavily-illustrated and full-colour book, Mériadeck, parcours en ville, which has also been designed to provide the bigger picture of what the district is all about. An opening essay details how the area developed from marshlands into one of Bordeaux’s rootsier – and sometimes seedier – neighbourhoods, before sharing the story behind the large-scale urban experiment conducted from the 1960s onwards by mayor Jacques Chaban-Delmas, resulting in the misunderstood high-rise administrative and residential district we know today.

Three suggested itineraries provide a means of getting under the skin of Mériadeck, the first focused on the central area, the others taking in zones along the eastern and southern edges. Each building to be spotted en route is described in detail, using terms that are architecturally precise and yet written in a style that is very accessible and easy to read.

The book also includes biographical information about the architects involved, and does not stop at the modern-day constructions, taking in sights including Villa Rohan on Cours d’Albret and the World War I Memorial. The sculptures and statues dotted here and there are also included. Of course, the Mériadeck shopping centre gets its own chapter, and entries are also given over to some of the more unusual features to be taken in, including a couple of voluminous air vents, and some of the more substantial staircases! Finally, the book lists the times Mériadeck was used as the setting for films, TV series, ads, and music videos.

In short, this is the authoritative guidebook that the Mériadeck district deserved and will prove to be a fascinating, revealing, and rewarding read, whatever your feelings about this area, which has always been a thorny and decisive subject in Bordeaux!  

Mériadeck, parcours en ville (Le Festin) is available in all good bookshops in and around Bordeaux and online!

P.S. Don’t forget that a couple of years ago, I sat down with Mathias to talk about the Mériadeck quarter. It resulted in this French-language podcast, which is still available to listen to here!

Click here if player does not display properly on your device.
You can also find it on miscellaneous platforms including Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Player FM, PocketCasts, RadioPublic, Overcast, Podbean, Podcast Addict and Stitcher. Feel free to hit the subscribe button on the app of your choice!

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