Come on coach driver! Take us to the horse drawn carriages museum in Bourg!
For once I will tell you a little bit about my last familial Sunday stroll..... to Bourg sur Gironde !
On a pretty sunday of March, we left to Bourg-sur-Gironde (which has not been on the Gironde for over 400 years!) to visit the horse-drawn carriages museum with the children. This little-known museum is surprising and has the special label : "musée de France" ! It houses a collection of old carriages from the late 19th century, an unbelievable collection assembled by an individual named Mr Raboutin. The collection has since been acquired by the town.
This museum dedicated to the horse-drawn carriages gathers about twenty carriages from the 19th century, very well preserved, accessories (saddles, harnesses) and many objects related to horse drawn transport and even an old sulphate machine. Don't forget we are still in the middle of the vineyards !
In the company of Philippe or Sylvie, you will learn all the little secrets of these old hoprse drawn cars... how they were stored, how they were lit... each one had its own use : there was the car you took to go out to the theatre, the carriage for countryside parties or the one desserved for the housekeeper and children. You will learn, for example, that the arms of a four-wheeled car can be folded down to save space, while the arms of a two-wheeled carriage are fixed because the car was tilted vertically by resting it on a stand!
You can also learn that there was an external protection of the footboard protecting the bottom of the pretty ladies dresses from nasty mud stains.
A model of the village allows to discover the citadel from the 16th century before its dismantling and to understand the successive stages of the development of Bourg-Sur-Gironde up to the XVIITh century Chartreuse which today serves as a municipal hall. And believe me, it's probably the most beautiful party room in the area!
The most impressive thing about this museum is the underground part!
The visit to the museum continues with the 16th century cavalier underground and the oil tanks used during the Second World War.
Thanks to the museum, we have access to the ramps of an old 16th century underground tunnel that was used to connect the disappeared citadel to the port downtown. This underground was later damaged when stone quarries were dug, and some part of the tunnel unfortunately disappeared.
Today it allows us to see below a cement oil tank built in the 1940s. Know that today there are 7 tanks of cement oil (they are empty now, eh!) lying underneath the village! Some were built by French engineers in the 1930s to store fuel, others were built by German engineers in the 1940s during the Occupation of the region. At the Liberation of Bourg in 1944, they were burned by the occupying forces but one can still be guessed because of the remains nowadays, especially below the cliff.
At the end of the guided tour of the museum, the guide will take you to the heart of the largest of these tanks, 70 metres long all the same! Just like that, would like to say... much bigger than a pool! Access was created in the outer wall that overlooked the river port and allowed heavy fuel oil to be stored or distributed for ships or submarines.
Whether you are from the area or passing through, you absolutely must plan a passage through Bourg. In addition to the museum, there are many interesting things to see, starting with the remains of ramparts at the top of the limestone cliff or the pretty facades of houses that line the streets, and of course the superb panorama of the Dordogne river and the picturesque Ambès island.
Concerning your taste buds, I can only recommend a stopover at the Maison des Cotes de Bourg, which now has its own wine bar with a panoramic view of the Dordogne... and to taste the famous fig of Bourg, a local delicacy which elaboration is based on the legend of a certain future Louis XIV who would have particularly appreciated the figs of this village.... but I will not say more!