Bassins à flot - Bacalan
This part of the city is turned toward the ocean and wide horizons.
This part of the city is turned toward the ocean and wide horizons
The Bacalan district, located at the northern end of the bend in the Garonne River, was once insalubrious marshland. In the 17th century, this was drained and certain rich members of the Bordeaux parliament and their families built holiday homes there. Marshes and vineyards were replaced by factories, refineries, shipyards, wet docks, and dry docks.
Today, this is a working class district that still retains a village atmosphere and physical reminders of its background, such as the bains-douches (public baths) dating from 1937. The submarine base built during the German occupation, in 1941-1943, is the most important monument in this district, which is undergoing a major transformation. Construction of the Wine Culture and Tourism Centre near the locks will be completed in 2016. This is just one of many buildings that are mushrooming in the wet dock district.
Located between rue Achard and the river, and built in the neo-classic style, the former naval dry goods warehouse houses an interesting art workshop overseen by sculptor Jean-François Buisson. This is a highly unusual and fascinating place to visit.
Dating from 1941-43, the base is one of five built by the Germans on the Atlantic coast for U-boats during the Second World War. This gigantic bunker is a veritable honeycomb with eleven alveolus linked by an inner street.
This venue has been converted into an original, "underground" cultural location by the City of Bordeaux. The Submarine Base offers multidisciplinary activities all year long: exhibitions, concerts, opera, jazz, theatre, dance, etc.
Going there is always an experience. Visitors are invariably awed by the immense concrete structure, the unique atmosphere on the quays, and the carefully-designed lighting.
This setting in the wet dock district is very unusual and, ultimately, very modern.