Bordeaux Celebrates the River and Liberté

For many years, the inhabitants of Bordeaux were unable to access the River Garonne because of the port, warehouses and railings lining it. Now they’re taking it back thanks to a new layout and the Bordeaux River Festival.

The Bordeaux River Festival symbolises the taking back of the Garonne and the newly accessible quays. This public demonstration takes place every two years, alternating with the Bordeaux Wine Festival. For its eleventh edition, it teamed up with the city’s cultural season, this year entitled “Liberté! Bordeaux 2019” and based on the “Spirit of the Enlightenment“. This idea of liberté is also connected to the large spaces across the region of Gironde.

The Bordeaux River Festival, which will take place from the 20th to 23rd of June 2019, will mark the start of this cultural season. It includes the free Entretiens de la Liberté exhibition at the Station Ausone, part of the Mollat Library, on themes including artistic and religious freedom and the freedom of women. Another must-see is Horizon Liberté! Prendre la mer pour vivre libre exhibition at the Museum of Sea and Marine Life until the end of October, and Les Bateaux de la Liberté, an exhibition on the quays open from the 20th to 23rd of June and curated by the Dossiers d’Aquitaine publishing house. The exhibition will display the different boats used to promote freedom, for example to transport migrants, Spanish refugees or those fleeing the Nazis.

For something a bit more light-hearted, free concerts will take place in the evenings in Place des Quinconces. There’ll be something for everyone (including Carmina Burana, the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine accompanied by a 380-strong choir, and singers Zazie and Jeremy Frérot). The Bordeaux River Festival is also a meeting point for large sailing boats and will be graced by the Kruzenshtern and Sedov, both Russian; the Skeaf, from the great Pacific garbage patch and which fights against French plastic pollution; small French crafts and the Zenobe Gramme, the only sailing boat in the Belgian Navy! You’ll be able to visit all of them. But you’ll need to be quick, because on the evening of 23 June they’ll set sail and leave Bordeaux. Bookings (€5 for adults, free for children under 6) can been made on the Bordeaux Tourism Office website. And to make the river even more spectacular, fireworks are planned for the evenings of Thursday 20 and Saturday 22 June, at 11 p.m., on the theme of flora and fauna.

No Bordeaux celebration is complete without a few tasty treats to nibble on. Stalls selling local products will be set up along the quays, while white wine will enjoy the spotlight at a party dedicated entirely to it (€10 gets you three tastings, as well as a glass and holder to take home). And in the Botanical Gardens, on the Garonne’s right bank, two meals will be imagined by a range of chefs.

Location: see the map here

© picture Marc C.

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