Friday, June 16, 2017

Bordeaux, France

 This is Place de la Bourse (built 1730) in Bordeaux, France (population 245,000)
 Bordeaux's last remaining medieval city gate.
 Impressive fountain/statue near Bordeaux's riverfront.
 Lots of impressive buildings in Bordeaux dating from the 18th century.
 Don't think you'd catch me going for a swim in the brownish Garonne River flowing past Bordeaux.
I'm maybe 40 miles from Bordeaux and vineyards are everywhere. Bordeaux is home to the largest wine growing area in France. The Spring of 2017 won't soon be forgotten here as heavy rains and hailstorms caused an estimated one BILLION dollars in damage to the vineyards. This is where the most expensive wines in the world hail from such as Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. So many wineries abound with many having impressive chateaus on the grounds to lure visitors in for tastings.
I'm about 50 miles from Bordeaux, 60 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and, smack dab in the middle of the Gironde Estuary-- the largest estuary in Europe. An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of water. Here you have water from the Atlantic Ocean mixing it up with two rivers resulting in swampy, marsh-like conditions.  I've specifically come here to see Fort Medoc. Why? It was built by Vauban, the French military engineer. This is the fort entrance on the land side.
Regular readers of my blog know I am a big, big fan of Marquis Vauban. The complex was built between 1689 and 1721 on orders of King Louis XIV. Why here? The French were worried the British or Spanish would sail up the estuary toward Bordeaux.  The site turned into a wasteland and in the last 50 years locals have started renovating some of the remaining structures.
 This was the powder building where gunpowder was stored.
My visit here is only an appetizer.  Upon leaving, my bike and I will catch a ferry to the other side to see Citadel of Blaye, a fortress designed by Vauban.
 The ferry is approaching.
This ferry transports vehicles and is unusual (at least to me) in that it loads and unloads from the side instead of from the front or back.
 When high tide comes in nets are lowered into the water to scoop up fish.
It's about five miles to reach the other side. This is a shot of Fort Medoc from the ferry. A new dock (on the site of the original dock) was installed in 2015.

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