Now it’s beginning to be get a reputation as “The Quai of Lights,” which we’ll get to in a minute.
If you would like to get there by car, the smartest way is to park in the parking lot of the tramway at Les Aubiers (a nearby suburb), and then take the tram in. You’ll save yourselves tons of money and tons of hassle, as the cheap parking price (3€?) gets you round-trip tickets into the city by tram as well.
The two women here represent History on the left, and Eloquence on the right. More than that, they represent the two rivers that form an estuary in this region: la Garonne on the left, and la Dordogne on the right.
An estuary is a partly closed body of water that is fed by fresh-water streams or rivers, and which has a passage into the sea. (I’ve graciously informed you of this so you don’t have to look it up). (Although you probably knew that already).
and on the left side is pre-revolution, with the statues representing Ignorance, Lies and Vice.
Most Frenchmen take their independence very seriously, although there is a small percentage that actually recognizes the royal bloodline, and the current Prince of France. (Does he have an 8-year old brother?)
These small revolutionists were tortured and hungry by the time we got to the plaza, which holds the Opera and the luxurious Regent Hotel.
But we had more torturous steps to go down the pedestrian street.
We learned that the Cathédrale Saint André was constructed from the 12th to the 16th centuries, is built in Roman and Gothic styles, and is always in a state of renovation. The soft stone absorbs the dirt even inside the pores so it’s really hard to clean.
The kids did what kids have been doing for 900 years – they climbed the fence.
We went to the old city center –
The city of Bordeaux was renovated thanks to its current mayor, Alain Juppé; even if his party is currently out of favor, he is a favorite here for what he has done in turning the city around. With the cleaning of the stones –
and the installation of the tram system. (This is a very difficult thing to do since the earth is quite humid and they had to install the electric lines underground in keeping with new historic preservation laws).
we get to the quai. This word is pronounced “kay” and means “boardwalk.” (I think that’s how you would translate it). This is not to be confused with the word queue, pronounced “cue” and which means “a tail,” or it means “to line up.”
This bridge is called the Pont de Pierre, built in the early 19th century by Napoléon. Each of the 17 arches represents one letter of his name “Napoléon Bonaparte,” and the bridge took 11 years to finish because of bad weather and the difficulty of setting stone into the strong current. He had no bonny reason for building the bridge. It was to bring his troops over it, then down South in order to conquer Spain. Which he then did.
which makes for happy children on an August day of forced sightseeing.
But as with everything else, there is a poetic meaning behind it all. The water rising and falling imitates the river itself. And the mist represents the irrigation of the vineyards bordering the rivers in the region.
You were waiting for it, weren’t you – Bordeaux is all about the wine. The vineyards were actually planted during the time of the Roman Empire, but it was not until Aliénor d’Aquitaine married Henry Plantagenet in the 12th century (after she went through two French kings), and it became an English duchy, that the wine was exported through Bretagne for commercial use.
And that, my friends, is all I have for you today on Bordeaux. Because it’s enough, really. Isn’t it?
Aw, come on Young Knight, let’s go have some ice cream.
But let’s not go down the wrong side of the tracks, away from the town centre and following the tram back towards Les Aubiers because there is nothing –I mean nothing to do there, and no place to eat ice cream. And the walk just gets longer and hotter and more miserable. Not like we did that or anything.
* I got my information from the guide, and then tortured my children further by postponing their dinner this evening in order to double-check some of the facts on various websites.