Bordeaux, built almost 100 km upriver at the first bridging point of the Garonne River, is one of the most important ports in Europe. The city boasts a wealth of Classical architecture, which contrasts with the small store houses lining the narrow cobbled streets of some districts. Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2007 Bordeaux has more than 350 classified buildings and buildings listed as Historic Monuments, including three religious World Heritage sites since 1998 as part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. I spent three days in Bordeaux in early May and only now have I gotten around to posting my photos. My walking tour of the city began at the Pont de pierre, or "Stone Bridge" in English. It connects the left bank of the Garonne River to the right bank quartier de la Bastide. The first bridge over the Garonne at Bordeaux, it was planned and designed during the First French Empire, under the orders of Napoleon I, but its construction took place during the Bourbon Restoration, from 1819 to 1822. It has seventeen arches (the same number as letters in the name Napoleon Bonaparte) and served as the only bridge crossing the river into Bordeaux until the construction of the Pont Saint-Jean in 1965. La porte des Salinières is the first landmark after crossing the Pont de pierre. Sometimes called the Porte de Bourgogne, it marks the official entrance to the town on the old road leading to Paris and was classified as a Historical Monument in 1921. It was constructed between 1750 and 1755, by architect André Portier under the supervision of the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Porte Cailhau stands on the Place du Palais which faces the river. It was once the main entrance into the city and built on the site of an ancient gate east of the Palais de l’Ombrière and completed in 1495. The triumphal arch derives its name either from the Cailhau family, who were members of the Bordeaux nobility, or from the “cailloux” (pebbles) that washed up around its base by the Garonne River. It is dedicated to Charles VIII, who won the Battle of Fornovo against the Italians in 1495. Further on is the Place de la Bourse. Named after the Stock Exchange (la bourse), this magnificent square was formerly called Place Royale and was the work of the father and son architects Jacques Jules and Jacques-Ange Gabriel. On the northern side is the Stock Exchange itself. On the southern side is the Former Hotel des Fermes (tax assessors) housing the National Customs Museum. The Three Graces Fountain stands in the middle of the square. The facades and the variety of their sculpted decoration combine to form one of the best architectural examples of the Louis XV style. One of the most beautiful designs across from the square is the largest mirror of water in the world. The Place des Quinconces is one of the largest city squares in Europe (approximately 126,000 m²). The principal monument was erected between 1894 and 1902 in memory of the Girondists who fell victim to the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. It is composed of a large pedestal framed with two basins, decorated with bronze horses and troops, and surmounted by a large column with a statue on top that represents the spirit of liberty. Between the Esplanade and the waterfront stand two rostral columns (ship figureheads), decorated with figures representing Commerce and Navigation. During the 18th century, the city was no longer considered to be solely for living and commerce, it was also expected to offer a quality of life for its inhabitants. It was for this reason that in 1746, the Intendant Tourny decided to create what is today the Jardin Publique on a site that was previously invaded by weeds. It offers a large number of promenades for meetings, a natural history museum and this beautiful exhibition hall. Basilique Saint-Seurin is a minor Basilica within the Place des Martyrs de la Résistance. It was founded in 6th century and is classified as historical monuments since 1840. It is also UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998 because it lies on one of the paths leading to Santiago de Compostela. Inside is the altar to St-Fort which pays tribute to the first bishop of Bordeaux during the 4th century and whose crypt lies beneath the church. Pilgrims came to his crypt to venerate his relics during the Middle Ages. The basilica has retained many masterpieces of different periods, including the magnificently carved Romanesque capitals of the west porch. They date from the 11th century and depict animal motifs as well as Biblical scenes. Bordeaux is mostly known for its wonderful old buildings but those interested in more modern architecture will find that the city does not disappoint. It has several interesting buildings located outside of the Old City including the Court of Justice located next to a 14th century tower of the Hâ fortress as well as this building found next to the Mériadec shopping center. Église Saint-Bruno is a Baroque style church which dates from 1611. Its façade is divided into three separate parts and is composed of six pilasters Corinthians. Above the door, in a niche, you can see a statue of a Madonna and child. The church was the first in Bordeaux to be built in the Baroque style and is located just in front of the cemetery of the Chartreuse, the oldest and largest cemetery in Bordeaux. There is a good view of its clock tower from the World War I Memorial right beside the church. This beautiful building located along the Quai de Paludate is the Château Descas and actually hides an old copper factory which lies behind it. Over the years, it has served as an upscale restaurant, a hotel as well as a discotheque. It is currently under a great deal of disrepair and the city council is hoping to find someone who is willing to restore it at the price of over 5 million Euros ! Abbatiale Sainte-Croix is a former Benedictine monastery which was founded here in the 7th century. The current building was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and was considerably restored during the 19th century. It has a Romanesque west front typical of the Saintonge region along the Atlantic coast. Architect, Paul Abadie added a symmetrical bell tower to the left of the façade during restorations in the 19th century. The arches of the blind windows surrounding the main doorway are decorated with interesting carvings depicting Greed and Lust. Nearby, in the Place de la Victoire is the Porte d’Aquitaine and its imposing 18th century triumphal arch surmounted by a triangular pediment bearing the royal arms of Bordeaux. Just in front of it are an obelisk and a turtle. They were placed here in 2005 to replace the old clock tower that once marked the center of the square. The column, square and twisted, is equipped with two false doors in bronze, and is full of references to wine and the vine. It was designed by the Czech sculptor Ivan Theimer. The giant tortoise brings a playful touch to the décor. This is the Chapelle St-Joseph which was built in 1671. It closed its doors in 1970 and was renovated extensively in 1996-7. Since 1999 it has served as an Orthodox church under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Romania. Built on the site of a 7th century chapel, l’église Saint-Eulalie once marked the southwest corner of Bordeaux’s medieval ramparts. The current church underwent many redesigns, but one can still admire the portal of the north wall which dates from the 15th century. The western façade was completely redesigned in the 20th century. A porch built by Alexandre Poitevin in 1828 served as the entrance to the church whose nave was extended and the main façade rebuilt in 1903 by architect Magne. The new bell tower is 54 meters tall and has been rebuilt twice (in 1612 and 1803) because it had been struck so many times by lightning. Saint-Eulalie’s current appearance is the result of its reconstruction in 1863-1864 by the architect Gustave Alaux. Across the street is the façade of Hôpital St-André along the rue Jean Burguet as well as the Palais de Justice which was built to designs by the architect Adolphe Thiac between 1836 and 1846. La cathédrale Saint-André with its famous tower stands in the middle of place Pey-Berland, which is flanked by the city’s most important museums, the Centre Jean-Moulin and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. On the first Sunday of every month, the town center is closed to traffic and admission to museums is free. Another building located on place Pey-Berland is the Palais Rohan, a former bishop’s palace built in the 18th century for Archbishop Ferdinand Maximilian de Mériadek, Prince of Rohan. The building marks the introduction of Neoclassicism to France. The cathedral, dedicated to Saint Andrew, is the most impressive of all the religious buildings in Bordeaux. The 11th-12th century nave was altered in the 13th century and again in the 15th century. The nave is quite impressive with dimensions: 124 mlong, 18 m wide in the transept, 23 m high in the nave and 29 m in the choir. The Renaissance style organ has undergone countless restorations and has been replaced several times since 1427. The Gothic chancel and the transept were rebuilt in the 14th and 15th century. Later, when the roof of the nave threatened to collapse, the building was strengthened by buttresses and flying buttresses, added at irregular intervals. This is the Porte Royale. It is a 13th century entrance to the right of the north transept portal and is renowned for its sculptures, inspired by the outstanding statuary adorning Notre-Dame in Paris. Most remarkable are the Twelve Apostles in the entrance bay and, on the tympanum, the Last Judgement. The 14th century sculptures of the north transept portal are the most prominent part of the cathedral exterior. This portal has an elaborate design starting with a statuary arcade at the top, a large petaled rose in a square next below, then 3 lancet windows and two tiers of trefoil openings until the arcades of angels, apostles and prophets are reached. All are set between two spired towers. The tympanum has a Last Supper on the lintel with an Ascension and Christ Triumphant above. Both jambs have sets of three clergymen. On the trumeau is St.-Martial. The south transept doorway to the cathedral is below a pediment pierced by an oculus and three rose windows. The upper part, embellished with trefoil arcades, also boasts an elegant rose window set within a square. The west front, destroyed in the 18th century and then rebuilt, remains unadorned. The tower was built in the 15th century on the orders of Archbishop Pey-Berland. It has always stood separate from the main body of the cathedral, beyond the east end. The steeple, shortened by a hurricane in the 18th century, now supports a statue of Notre-Dame d’Aquitaine, installed in the 19th century and restored in 2002. Église Saint-Paul-Saint-François-Xavier was built between 1661 and 1673 by Jesuits who settled in Bordeaux toward the end of the 16th century. The architecture is typical of the Baroque style of the Counter-Reformation. 45 meters in length and 19 meters wide, it features several shallow but wide side chapels similar to this one dedicated to Saint Joseph: The high altar is of later construction, built between 1741 and 1748 by sculptor Guillaume Coustou (son) and Pierre Vernet. The high altar represents the apotheosis of Saint-François-Xavier. The 15th century arched gateway (Porte de la Grosse-Cloche), with its three round turrets and conical roofs, is another source of local pride. The clocks date from 1592 (inside) and 1772 (outside); the bell was cast in 1775. The gateway stands at the site of an older structure, Porte St-Éloi, which was one of the entrances to the 13th century walled town. When it existed, this belfry rang out the news that the grape harvest was to begin. The 12th century Gothic church of Saint-Éloi still rests beside the great clock tower. It was closed in the 1980 and quickly became run down. Since 2002 it has been occupied by a traditionalist Catholic association who celebrate Mass using the Tridentine Rite. It is currently undergoing a massive restoration. Within the place St-Projet is this 14th century cross which is all that is left of an ancient cemetery that was once located on this spot. Église Saint-Pierre has been located on this site since the 6th century. The building was greatly reconstructed in 1882 but its western facade still maintains some of its 14th century charm. The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is one of the oldest wooden frame opera houses in Europe not to have burnt or required rebuilding. Inaugurated on 17 April 1780 the theatre was conceived as a temple of the Arts and Light, with a neo-classical facade endowed with a portico of 12 Corinthian style colossal columns which support an entablature on which stand 12 statues that represent the nine Muses and three goddesses (Juno, Venus and Minerva). Église Notre Dame was formerly a Domincan chapel. It was built between 1684 and 1707 by the engineer Michel Duplessy. Its façade is in typical Baroque style. La porte Dijeaux was one of the monumental entrances to the city of Bordeaux in the 18th century. Built between 1748 and 1753 its name is connected with that of Jupiter whose temple stood on this location during Gallo-Roman times. The name comes from the deformation of the Gascon "De Jòu" (Jupiter). Nearby is the Cours de l'Intendance, the main street for high-fashion and luxury goods stores. One afternoon I ate my lunch in a rather nice restaurant here. I wish I could remember the name--all I remember is that the food was delicious ! The construction of the Basilique St-Michel began in 1350 and lasted for two centuries, during which time the original design was much modified. Dated to c 1460 the alabaster carvings below this altar to Our Lady are attributed to Nottingham craftsmen who specialised in working in alabaster. They represent the Joys of the Virgin. Much of it is missing but a few panels still show the original workmanship and have been carefully restored recently. The originals were discovered, hidden behind wooden panelling in 1840. One panel in particular shows the Ressurection of Christ while the Soldiers Sleep. The organ buffet in Louis XV style was built from 1762 to 1765 and has been restored on several occasions, particularly in 1865 by Joseph Merklin and again in 2011 by Bernard Hurvy, Olivier Robert and Stéphane Robert. The arches and the tympanum above the main door are blackened from heavy pollution. There are plans to clean the walls like they have already with other buildings in Bordeaux. Carving on the tympanum over the southern door illustrates the legend of the appearance of St-Michael to the Bishop of Siponto on Mount Gargano in Italy, where the archangel saved a bull stuck in a cave from a hunter's arrow. Some windows have beautifully carved corbels. The people of Bordeaux are justly proud of this late 15th century hexagonal Gothic belfry, which stands apart from the basilica. At 114 meters tall it is the highest tower in all of southern France.