The Bacalan district of Bordeaux, which stretches out along the Garonne, is an up-and-coming area that had long been snubbed by traditional residents of Bordeaux, who viewed it as too working class. This status of a terra incognita has enabled it to host offbeat artistic experiences.
While Bacalan’s skyline may now be studded with cranes erecting buildings left, right and centre, the area still maintains a healthy dose of marginality, combining tradition with the artistic initiatives and sense of shifting and forgetfulness that give it its charm. You just have to push on a little further than the Cité du Vin to find it.
Les Vivres de l’Art reflects the mood of this unpromising-looking area, where graffiti tags abound. Les Vivres de l’Art was created around ten years ago by artist Jean-François Buisson, who took over some of the historic buildings – two stone pavilions of the former Vivres de la Marine – on Place Victor Raulin. They had been built between 1786 and 1789 by Joseph Teulère to store the naval food supplies that arrived at or were dispatched from the port of Bordeaux. The main building facing them, with its beautiful pediment and a tree growing out of it, has fallen into disrepair, with no roof and no windows, although it is listed as a “Historical Monument”. The restoration of the two pavilions occupied by Les Vivres de l’Art has just been completed. The rusted metal doors, designed by Jean-François Buisson, are all different, with cut-outs, hollows and graphic reliefs.
He has also installed spectacular sculptures throughout the site. And to bring the place to life, he has invited resident artists into the workshops. The site also hosts events, fashion shows and performances as a way of supporting contemporary creativity.
Between the two pavilions, a former blockhouse built during the Second World War now serves as a street café. Tables are set up everywhere under the trees for you to take a refreshing break, while there are also sculpture benches where you can soak up the atmosphere.