What you've missed on Parliament square of Bordeaux on February 21st!

hahahaha... Few people know it, but on February 21 every year, we celebrate International Tour Guides Day! Yes, this day would have been created in Great Britain in 2002... but apologise, few investigations from me on that side...

As an active member of the professional association AGICA, I was one of the volunteers despite quasi-polar freezing temperatures to promote our profession to the public through free "speed-guiding" sessions in emblematic places in Bordeaux!

1 p. m., here I am with a few colleagues on the elegant Parliament Square in the heart of Old Bordeaux! Our visitors were very impressed to learn a lot of anecdotes about this square that they thought they knew so well.... So I thought that a remedial session for the others could be very nice!

I suggest 5 anecdotes about the Parliament square in Bordeaux. Feel free to tell me below if you've learned anything; I'd love to hear it!

Anecdote N°1 - The Parliament of Bordeaux has never sat in the Parliament Square

The Parliament of Bordeaux is a court of justice founded in 1451 by Charles VII, King of France; it existed until 1790. I will skip the historic points, suspensions and re-establishment of the Parliament court in Bordeaux.... But in any case, this court of justice headquarters have never been here, on Parliament Square, but in the Palace called Ombrière, which has now disappeared; it was behind the Cailhau Gate, which is still visible nowadays.

Although the Palais de l'Ombrière was destroyed in 1800, members of Parliament have left their mark everywhere in the city, through their private mansions spread in Bordeaux city center but also through many streets that have been renamed after the former Parliament presidents. As for the name of Parliament Square, it is more of a tribute or local historical memory, since these parliamentary families have, as you can guess, had a notable importance in local history!

Anecdote N°2 - The name of Parliament is not contemporary with the square that was then called the Royal Market

The Parliament square was created in 1760 under Marquis de Tourny's stewardship and was called at that time "Marché Royal" because it is located just behind the Place Royale (currently Place de la Bourse); it is located in a straight line from the Place Fernand Lafargue (the initial market place) which had become too small for sheltering the market; it became as an annex. Go around the square and you will see this "Royal Market" name still engraved in the stone!

And then? Well...  That influenced the decor of the square! Did you notice that here the "mascarons" (the stone masks above the entrance doors) adorn the openings on the first floor and not the arches on the ground floor? If it was the case here, the merchants' stalls would have hidden these mascarons so important, so ostentatious to let everyone know how successful your business was! 

2018 02 21 Place Parlement Bordeaux Marche Royal

Anecdote N°3 - The architect who signed the beautiful fountain was very prolific and distinguished himself in the construction or restoration of the great wine chateaux in the Médoc

 For most of them, the buildings that border the square date back to the 1750's but those that were built later have respected the architectural codes of what was previously built so well that the pastiches are almost imperceptible! 

On the other hand, the fountain in the middle of the square dates back to the Second Empire. In neo-rocaille style, it was installed in 1865 and designed by Garros. 

Michel Louis Garros (1833-1911) is an architect from Bordeaux who is also responsible for the fountain in Place Nansouty and Place Charles Gruet. In Gironde, he is also responsible for the church Notre Dame des Passes in Arcachon (in Moulleau district, to be precise) but above all, many wine chateaux, especially in the Médoc wine area. He was able to meet the ostentatious requirements of the owners and participated in the creation of the typical wine chateaux in Bordeaux and Biterois vineyards.

Thus, in the Médoc, he was entrusted with the construction of Château Fonréaud, then followed by Grattequina, and above all the huge Château Clément-Pichon, his most masterful work in Bordeaux, but also Malescot-Saint-Exupéry and Rayne-Vigneau. He also participated in restoration campaigns at the castles of Lascombes and Ducru-Beaucaillou.

Anecdote N°4 - The line of white slabs on the ground let you guess a buried cistern little known by locals!

 Below Parliament Square is a cistern installed by the Germans during the Occupation in 1940's. Today buried, it is still possible to guess the shape of the reservoir thanks to these paler pavings on the floor, when the place had been lifted up at the beginning of the 80s in blond limestone.

2018 02 21 Parliament Bordeaux trace german cistern

Anecdote N°5 - Philippart Street, which connects to the Place de la Bourse, is named after a great social patron.

In this street, you will find beautiful 18th century private mansions and a remarkable balcony on a trunk that some people like to call the most beautiful balcony in Bordeaux!
Marie-Fernand Philippart was born in Belgium in 1870 and was later naturalized. In 1895, he founded an import-export business with Africa, mainly Senegal - then a large oil mill in the Bastide district (The other bank of the Garonne river). He became a great industrialist in Bordeaux but nevertheless always very concerned with being a social patron, as we say nowadays! He instituted in his company the 8-hour labor day, paid holidays and a minimum wage long before the law made them mandatory! In 1919, he was elected mayor of Bordeaux. He died in 1934.

And here, for other anecdotes about Bordeaux, don't hesitate to follow me on the social networks.
and for a guided tour of Bordeaux, go to the contact page!

2018 02 21 International guides day Bordeaux

And when you see all those beautiful smiles and obvious dynamism,
don't you look forward to planning a guided tour in Bordeaux?