7 unusual anecdotes about Bordeaux

Anecdotes de Bordeaux

Discover a few anecdotes about the city of Bordeaux and learn more about « La Belle Endormie »!

A UNESCO world heritage site, the wine capital of southwestern France and a major national metropolis, Bordeaux is now a top tourist destination. Why not discover the city in a different way? Here are a few unusual anecdotes about Bordeaux, encouraging you to explore the city on foot to experience its history and admire its heritage.

1. The Bordeaux coat of arms

Anecdotes de Bordeaux

Photo credit: WikiMedia – Adelbrecht

What does the Bordeaux « logo » mean? The city of Bordeaux is adorned with a coat of arms representative of its history, the shape of the crescent evoking the ancient port of the Moon. The coat of arms features the Grosse-Cloche (with its two towers, no longer in existence), the leopard of the Kings of England (inherited from the English domination of the Duchy of Aquitaine), fleurs-de-lis (symbols of French royalty) andblue waves (a stylized representation of the Garonne River).

The city’s famous motto, « lilia sola regunt lunam unda castra leonem » (« lilies alone reign over the moon, the waves, the fortress and the lion ») reminds us of the reconquest of the Aquitanian duchy by France in 1453, when Bordeaux once again fell under the rule of the Valois (Battle of Castillon). At the same time, Constantinople (now Istanbul) was taken by the Ottomans on the edge of the West.

2. The Big Bell

The Porte St Eloi (Bordeaux’s oldest gateway) was once a prison. The bell is said to have been sunk thanks to the capture of Spanish cannons…

3. Stone Bridge

This bridge links the two banks on which Bordeaux has settled. It links the St. Michel and Salinières districts with the Bastide, symbolized by its famous blue lion. It was the first bridge built over the Garonne. Built by Napoleon I in the 1820s, it has seventeen arches, each representing a letter of his surname: Napoleon Bonaparte.

4. The Route of St. Jacques de Compostelle

Bordeaux was, and still is, the place where pilgrims pass through. Once housed at the Sait-James Hospital in the aforementioned Rue du Mirail, they are now welcomed at the Maison des Pèlerins, from March to October. You’ll find pictures of the place here.

Address: 28 rue des Argentiers, 33000 Bordeaux (near Saint Pierre church)

Please note: you’ll need to show your credencial!

Price: €12 per night

5. The Dutch Houses

On Quai des Chartons, two houses stand out from the rest of the architecture: two Flemish-style houses share the limelight. Built in the 17th century, they are now classified as Historic Monuments.

Address: 28, 29 Quai des Chartrons, 33000 Bordeaux / Tram B (Chartrons stop)

6. Esplanade des Quinconces

During the Nazi occupation, Bordeaux and the surrounding area inherited several blockhouses. Some can still be seen on the beaches of the Bassin d’Arcachon, near the Dune du Pilat. In Bordeaux, one of them was sunk beneath the Place des Quinconces. With its Girondins monument, this is the largest square in Europe.

Address: Place des Quinconces, 33000 Bordeaux / Tram B & C (Quinconces stop)

7. Rue Sainte-Catherine

Bordeaux’s main shopping street, it is the longest pedestrian street in Europe. It stretches from the Place de la Comédie to the Victoire, where a huge obelisk is enthroned. Bordeaux is definitely a city of superlatives! With the whole family, have fun counting scallops on Rue St. Catherine!

Access: Tram B (Victoire, Grand Théâtre stop)

Main photo credit: Wikimedia – Xellery