August 12 Day 8 – Bordeaux
Our Free choice today is finally a guided tour of Bordeaux and her many attractions. Yes we are on holiday so we are not going to Shop with the Chef at a local food market and cook up a storm in Scenic Culinaire afterwards. Or, be energetic and cycle the historic regions of Bordeaux. Cross beautiful bridges to witness sites such as the Royal Gate and the Palais Rohan, before cycling through public gardens back to the luxury of your floating hotel.
We will spend the afternoon at leisure. Enjoy a special dinner on board showcasing regional delicacies before an illuminations cruise on the Garonne River. A fabulous local soloist will perform live in the Panorama Lounge to round off a magical evening.
So yeah, missed the walk with the ‘coach’… but got up, had breakfast and out to the coach by 9:30 for our city tour of Bordeaux. I think I’m getting a little worn down. 🙂 It has been so hot here and we are just having too much fun! After the tour we went back to the ship for a Barbecue lunch…. Yum. During our leisure time we walked down the Pier to the shops… sweating as we went, cowering from the sun. Being Sunday there were only a few shops open but still managed to find some stuff! After Karen and I went into the first open shop we ‘lost’ Kevin and Diana who were in the next. So after doing what shopping we could we stopped for water and washroom. The fellow in the shop said he spoke English and that my French needed much practice. I told him I knew, that’s why I tried it! 😉 It was so hot we headed back to the ship for a cold beer! Our phones worked again and a message showed Kevin and Diana were also back on board. Frog legs, escargot – okay, but I draw the line at raw oysters from Arcachon – no way – not me! But hey, I’m okay with having a drink while others have a go. Then we had the Port Talk followed by the Captain’s Cocktail Reception, followed by dinner and entertainment in the Diamond Lounge for some reason called the Panorama Lounge this evening! As a special surprise we had an Illumination Cruise of Bordeaux!
Bordeaux has a rich history spanning at least two thousand years, the first first traces of permanent human settlement on the site originate from the 6th Century BC. Burdigala, was built during the 3rd century BC by a Celtic tribe: the Bituriges Vivisques. Strategically placed for trade Bordeaux grew and prospered thanks to the tin trade. Its strategic location made it a prize to be greatly desired. Through the centuries it endured a number of invasions beginning with the Romans, followed by the Vandals, Visigoths, Franks, Arabs, and Vikings. Charlemagne also tried to establish his kingdom here. Finally, in 1032 it became the exclusive property of the Duchy of Aquitaine which was independent and not linked to the French crown.
Place de la Bourse: Built between 1738 and 1755 it was dedicated to Louis XV. The large equestrian statue of Louis XV was melted down during the French revolution, at the end of the 18th C. Around 50 years later, the fountain known as “Three Graces”, today’s fountain, was built in its place. “The Quay Mirror” was built in 2006, the water can reflect a view of the Place de la Bourse if hundreds of people weren’t wading through the water. The buildings surrounding the square contain the Chamber of commerce and other economic institutions. The south pavilion houses the Musée des Douanes which is a customs museum displaying the history of Bordeaux as a port town, models of different types of ships, navigational instruments and much more.
La Porte Cailhau: Situated between the mouths of Bordeaux’s two main rivers, the Peugue (Cours d’Alsace-Lorraine) and Devèze (Rue de la Motte), it was the main entry into the city from the port and was part of the defensive walls of the city. It gave access to the Palais de l’Ombrière, the residence of the Dukes of Guyenne and then the seat of the Parliament of Bordeaux from 1462.
Porte de Bourgogne: The Burgundy Gate replaced the medieval Porte Salinieres located at the end of the old ditches of Rue des Fosses, now named Victor Hugo. It marks the official entrance to Bordeaux City on the old road to Paris. It was dedicated to the Prince Bishop, Duke of Burgundy on January 24, 1757.
La Grosse Cloche: It is one of the two remaining Medieval entrances to the city built in the 15th century, on the site of the even older Porte Saint-Éloy XIII. It was part of the fortifiied walls of the medieval city and was also used as a prison. The bell was an integral part of every day life. It was rung to alert the public in case of attack or fire, the harvest signal, Sundays, holidays, marriages and death.
Château du Hâ: Following French victory at the Battle of Castillon of 17 July 1453, widely considered to be the end of the 100 Years War, the King of France, Charles VII ordered the construction of Fort du Hâ and Château Trompette. The English had lost all land in France and the king wanted to protect France against the threat of future attacks.
Construction started in January 1456, in part using ready hewn stone from the remains of the Roman wall. To begin with the fort served as a garrison for royal troops. In 1470 the fort served as a residence for Charles de Valois, and so became a castle. From then on, until becoming the legal school for the French Judiciary in 1972, the castle served as a place of refuge or a prison.” Today all that remains of the ancient fort are two towers joined by a wall. It is now the site of the Palais de Justice and the École Nationale de la Magistrature.
The Germans used it as a prison for both members of the Resistance and Jews who were sent on to Drancy Camp in Paris before the death camps in east.
A plaque at the door reads: To the Interned Deportees and the Resistance of the Gironde who died for France in the Nazi concentration camps 1940-1945.
Place Pey-Berland : Considered Bordeaux’s main square. Contains Bordeaux Cathedral and Hôtel de Ville.
Bordeaux Cathedral: A church existed on this site as early as the 4th century. In 1096 Pope Urban II consecrated a gothic Cathédrale of Saint-André here, though construction continued between the 12th and 16th centuries. It became the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. In 1137 Eleanor of Aquitaine’s marriage to the King of France took place here. The majority of the cathedral we see today was built between the 13th and 15th century.
The Hôtel de Ville, Bordeaux’s city hall sits facing the cathedral. Also known as Palais Rohan, it is a stately and imposing structure featuring lavishly decorated interiors lit with chandeliers. The palace was built in the decadent pre-revolutionary period of the 1770’s at the request of Archbishop Mériadec de Rohan to replace the medieval residence. This was financed by selling off surrounding land to build houses in what is the present-day Mériadeck district. After the political uprising of 1789, it housed the Gironde department of the new government and became the town hall in 1837.
Gloria Victis: Bronze Statue in small square across from Cathedral – means ‘glory to the vanquished’ – and was created as a memorial for those who perished in the Franco-Prussian War.
Espace Saint-Rémi: Built between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, this church was decommissioned and its furniture dispersed during the revolution. Fodder shop, customs store, stable, garage and then reserve of the Aquitaine Museum, the space has been rehabilitated in 1998. Since 2000 it has been a performance hall and events venue.
Place des Quinconces: The Château Trompette, built after the Hundred Years War for protection against future English aggression, was demolished in the early 19th C to make way for this square – the largest in western Europe. In the later part of the 19th C it was decided to to raise a monument at the western end of the square. The council finally decided on one to honor the “The Girondists” and the triumph of the republic. The 43 meters high column and its surrounding fountains were erected between 1894 and 1902.
Liberty: The winged lady depicts Liberty breaking free from the chains of oppression. In her other hand she holds a laurel branch, which symbolizes the victory of the republic. Below her “RF” stands for “République Française”.
Gallic Rooster: At the base of the column is the French Cockerel or Gallic Rooster, one of the symbols of France. The cockerel symbolizes French history, land and culture and has been used ever since the Middle Ages.
Massive bronze sculptures: “Le triomphe de la République” and “Le triomphe de la Concorde”. They were dismantled by German troops in search of metal during WWII. Incredibly the statues were found in 1944 in the French city of Angers. They were then brought back to Bordeaux and later reinstalled.
Saint-Louis des Chartrons: The name Chartrons comes from the first monastery founded here in 1383 by monks belonging to the Order of Chartreux (the Carthusian order). The Saint Louis de Chartron church was built in neo-gothic style between 1874 and 1879, on the site of an older chapel built in 1726.
La Cité du Vin: is a wine museum of contemporary architecture resembling a wine decanter on the banks of the River Garonne.
Jacques Chaban Delmas Bridge is a girder bridge, vertical lift bridge, tramway, light or metro rail bridge and road bridge that was built from 2009 until 2013.