Hello there. Today, I would like to whisk you away to Bordeaux.
In the past, I have expressed the timeless beauty of Bordeaux, however I recently rediscovered the city through the help of a native. As we walked the streets of Bordeaux, I learned more about her history, yes, but also about her legends and folktales! With that in mind, I will do my best to recount the stories.
Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there was a city named Burdigala, and though this town has seen times of peace and of war, she has endured and became Bordeaux. Bordeaux means near the water, or the boarder of the water. She has had many transformations from a very dark city (pollution turned ALL the limestone facades black) to the second city of light in France. The City of Lights will always be Paris, but my city does give her a run for her money. Bordeaux is a little big city, you can usually get to any destination in 20 - 40 minutes, you can enjoy her fruits for she is well reknown for her wine. Bordeaux is also a southern city, meaning more sunlight and beautiful weather. She is also situated between the mountains and the ocean, so outdoor activities are ample. Living in Bordeaux is simply magical and charming, in my opinion, which will always be in style!
Let us discover some of her hidden gems and tales! Shall we? A couple of things... I will jump around on dates and figures, just know that it took place a long time ago. And, as I mentioned before, I will do my best to recount the stories.
Knock Knock! In French, they say Toc Toc!
Here are a couple of door handles that swept me off my feet! The detail is simply divine and I enjoy discovering little gems like this in the city. Two of these were on private residences, the other, I believe the green one is located on a government building. The green one is not sautered to the door, so I was able to tap it, and it was heavy!
Rue de Loup
This is my favorite street in Bordeaux! Rue de Loup means Street of the Wolf. I have always loved werewolves. I find them much more interesting than vampires. I know that seemed to come out of nowhere, but stay with me. When I first moved to Bordeaux, walking home from anywhere at night, alone, was creepy! Creepy. I knew that I was safe, Bordeaux is a very safe town, but I always had an eerie feeling that werewolves were stalking me. Since moving here, I have always been fascinated by this street, but I didn't know its history. All I knew was I was being stalked by werewolves. Then one day, while being a tourist in my own city, I discovered that Rue de Loup was named after a wolf that was killed on that very street. History says wolf. I heard werewolf. After hearing that story I KNEW Bordeaux had some werewolf history, ok wolf history. I know werewolves don't excist!
It happened in the mid 18th century. At that time, wolves were overpopulated and would often come into the city to search for food. A child may or may not have been killed by a wolf, that part of the story is sketchy, but the fact remains a wolf was killed on that street, but details of its size and of the people who killed it or witnessed it... nothing. It makes for a good tale, in any case, everybody can add their own twists and surprises.
St. Andre Cathedral & Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine is considered by many to have been the most powerful and enlightened woman of her age, if not the entire medieval era. She was born in 1122 in Bordeaux (actually she was born in Belin). Her father was William, the tenth Duke of Aquitaine, and her mother Aenor of Chatellerault. In Aquitaine women had liberties rarely found elsewhere in Europe and they mixed freely with men. Her personality, as she grew older, no doubt owed a lot to this.
Her grandfather was very idealistic, and though ruthless, was also impractical. He was known as The Troubadour, he was a prince and a brave knight. Her father was a complex man as well, but known for his aggressiveness.
On Good Friday 1137, in the city of Compostella while on pilgrimage, Duke William X passed away, leaving Eleanor, at the age of 15, one of the richest and eligible women in the land. After his death she had no choice but to turn to Louis VI, king of France (at this time France was really no more than the confines of Paris but was starting to gain feudal control outside the Ile de France). Soon after she was engaged to his only surviving son, Louis le Jeune.
On July 25, 1137 the couple was married in Bordeaux at the Cathedral St.André, pictured above). At fifteen years old, Eleanor (according to contemporary sources) was a "beauty, tall, with a great figure that she kept well into old age." She probably had blond hair and blue eyes, which at this time were considered marks of extraordinary good looks.
News reached them during the betrothal banquet that Louis' father, king Louis VI had died a week earlier.
So on December 25, 1137 Eleanor was crowned queen of France.
Eleanor was more of a party girl and very social. She loved music and poetry.
After seven years of marriage, she still had not had any children, although she did have one miscarriage. Finally she had a daughter, Marie (future countess of Champagne) around 1144.
She and Louis were not getting along as well, and rumours started flying about Eleanor and a certain famous troubadour (some women have a thing for musicians!), which were probably not true, she just enjoyed flirting and loved romantic poems. Plus she had not had a male heir.
But she still seemed to love Louis, and in 1147, accompanied him and a small army on a Crusade, through Bavaria, Hungary and the Balkans. But she brought all her girlfriends, and servants, AND troubadours and musicians, and it was a big distraction for the troops. When they reached Constantinople, she fell in love with Byzantine fashion - clothes, food, art.
On this crusade, Eleanor ran into her long-lost uncle Raymond of Poitiers, in Antioch. She developed a very strong affection for him - how strong? That is the question..... and Louis was jealous. She got angry and suggested a divorce.
She did have a second daughter in 1150, Alix. But her marriage to Louis was growing more and more stressed.
In August 1151, Geoffrey Plantagenet and his son Henry visited Paris. Eleanor and Henry started making googly eyes at each other, and probably came to some kind of surreptitious arrangement.
On March 21, 1152, the marriage of Louis and Eleanor was pronounced null and void on grounds that they were cousins (third cousins). Of course the real reasons were the absence of a male heir, and their basic incompatibilities.
Eleanor and Henry married about 8 weeks after the annulment.
She had 5 sons and 3 daughters with Henry, including her third and favorite son, Richard, who was later known as Richard the Lionheart, and his brother John, who tried to usurp the throne from Richard while he was being held prisoner by the Austrians during a Crusade. (You may recognize this story from the Robin Hood legends.)
She helped Richard revolt against her husband Henry, and was then made a prisoner by Henry.
When Henry died, Richard ordered her set free. Richard was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey in 1189, in the presence of his adoring mother. She was 67 years old, very old for those days. The next year, she traveled to Navarre to make a deal with King Sancho the Wise, for his daughter to marry Richard. She then traveled with her new daughter-in-law over the Alps (imagine that! over the Alps, all on horseback or carriage), to see Richard off on another Crusade.
She got the pope, an old friend, to make her son Geoffrey an archbishop.
Eleanor was instrumental in many of the tactical and political decisions made by Richard, and when he died as a result of gangrene, she supported her son John being made king instead of Philip II (son of her ex-husband Louis). However, John slowly lost most of his kingdom/territory to Philip. But she did travel to Spain to choose the best bride among her granddaughters for Philip’s son.
One of her grandsons was Otto IV of Brunswick, emperor of Germany.
She died in a nunnery in 1204 at the VERY advanced age of82, almost unheard of in those days.
There is so much more to tell about Eleanor and her adventures, but already this is quite long. But it gives you an idea of how amazing this woman was, and how exciting and complicated that era was.
Written and told by my friend, Janice Brooks!
Before you leave, I just wanted to show you a home I happened upon! The wide courtyard is where horse drawn carriages would arrive and deposit welcoming guests and family. On the right, you may notice archways, that is where the stables would have been housed, along with the property owner's horses and carriages.
Thank you for spending some time with me today and as always, I thank you for reading!
Hope to see you soon in Bordeaux!
Frenchified for Life,
Bonjour et Bienvenue!
Thank you for stopping by for a spell!
I am a 40-something year old American woman. Born in Texas, raised in Las Vegas!
Frenchified for Life
is a fabulous little lifestyle blog about truly embracing French life!
My intent is to simply inspire you to create something unique and beautiful in your everyday life. The French have this wonderful and annoying habit of seeing the world through rose colored glasses, might as well learn something from them!
That said, I lift my glass to you!
By the way, I mention the name Cachou (or The Cash) a lot, I'm referring to her...