- Words and Photos by John Domine
On the Road: Bordeaux, France
The city of Bordeaux lies along the Garonne River in southwestern France. It is located in a region known for its award-winning wines, 18th-century mansions and notable art museums, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Walking through it's cobble-stoned streets is like taking a trip back in time. And the food, in true French fashion, will satisfy even the most discerning palate.
In addition to the magical atmosphere and the conventional art to be found within the confines of its beautiful buildings, I was surprised to find an abundance of art on the city streets as well. Thanks to the navigational help of Bordeaux artist LadyJDay (who I met during her recent visit to New York City) as well as my trusty co-pilot Gilles Aouizerat, I was able to track down a huge amount of work in a very short time, which I am now able to pass along to you.
Having a car was very useful to me for exploring the region, as many of the spots are fairly spread apart. That being said, there are a couple choice locations which are worthwhile as destinations in and of themselves and are accessible either by public transport or by cab. A short ride will take you to the painted wonders of labyrinthine Darwin or to the port-side area known as Bassins à Flots, the site of the 2016 Shake Well Festival, which has something of a Meeting of Styles vibe. (The 2017 festival moved to a space behind Darwin known as Bastide Niel, which was unfortunately gated when I was there. Perhaps you will have better luck!)
Located at the warehouses of a former military barracks, Darwin is an incredible place to visit and definitely the highlight of my street art discoveries in Bordeaux. Featuring works by such artists as Alber, David Sélor, See Ya, MIKA (Michaël Husser), Charles Foussard, and others, on walls of dilapidated, roofless buildings; it was an adventure just making my way through each structure, soaking in all of the works to be found on any and all available surfaces.
Here is just a sampling of what was on offer during my visit:
Bassins à Flots Hangars
Along the waterfront of Bordeaux, the area known as Bassins à Flots was home to the 2016 Shake Well Festival (organized by the 3GC organization). The walls are in surprisingly good shape and cover a few, very large shipping hangars, in a space over 65,000 square feet. Expect to see beautiful work by artists such as A-MO, Dashe, EPIS, NERONE, Mister Colfer, Jef, Sharone, and many, many others. Here is a sampling of what I saw just around Hangar 29.
In addition to these two hotspots, there is also much work to be discovered spread across the city. Artists whose work can be found include Jef Aerosol, Mexico's Spaik and Cix Mugre, MonkeyBird Crew, and more works by A-MO. ( I have included some of the addresses at the end of the article). As you can see, the work is both varied and vibrant.
If you need a break from the city and are looking for an easy day-trip, the beautiful village of St. Émilion (a UNESCO World Heritage site dating from prehistoric times) is less than an hour's drive east, where you can meander through charming cobble-stoned alleyways, climb to the top of Chateau du Roy for a bird's-eye view of the village, and feast on savory crêpes and cider followed by a digestif of the region's crémant (sparkling wine) under "cork trees" in the garden of the old cloisters. It is beautiful any time of year and you will be enchanted by the awesome views to be discovered around every corner.
So, if you are planning a French holiday, be sure to include Bordeaux and its neighboring villages in your itinerary. Hopefully, this piece has given you a little inspiration to get started.
So, what are you waiting for? The beauty of Bordeaux is calling.
Prime Locations for Bordeaux Street Art:
Darwin, Quai des Queyries
Shake Well Festival 2016, Bassins a Flots, rue Lucien Faure
Jef Aerosol, located at CHU Pellegrin
Monkeybird, located at Patinoire Mériadeck
Saïd Dokins & Monkeybird, located at Gymnase des Chartrons
Spaik, located at Le M.U.R. de Bordeaux
More Spaik, located at Gymnase du Grand Parc 1
Parking Ravezies, various artists