Bordeaux: In 50 years, the city has been metamorphosed by major urban planning achievements -

20 Minutes

  • From the construction of the Aquitaine Bridge in 1967 to the inauguration of the first tram line in 2003, including the transformation of the platforms, Bordeaux has undergone a metamorphosis over the past 50 years.

  • There have been major phases of transformation, explains the A'Urba.

  • "20 Minutes" has selected five major achievements of recent decades, deciphered by the town planning agency.

“We can see that in 50 years, there have been enormous transformations in Bordeaux…” Coordinator of the book

De la ville à la métropole, 50 ans d'urbanisme à Bordeaux

, which has just been published, Françoise Le Lay, director of studies at l'A'Urba, the urban planning agency of Bordeaux Aquitaine which produced this fascinating document, looks back for

20 Minutes

on five major achievements that have allowed the metamorphosis of the city since the end of the 1960s.

Françoise Le Lay notes that this transformation took place “during major phases, starting with the 1960s and 1970s and major projects such as Meriadeck, the Lake, bridges, then during the 1990s and 2000 with the quays and the tram ".

20 Minutes

has selected five projects that have allowed this metamorphosis, which Françoise Le Lay deciphers for us.

Construction of the Mériadeck district

Construction of the Meriadeck district in Bordeaux - A'Urba

"Young people from Bordeaux cannot imagine what Meriadeck was in the 1950s, before her transformation," smiles Françoise Le Lay.

It was a very old district, with a lot of unsanitary housing, and with a bad reputation with its bars, its ragpickers, and its prostitution ... Faced with the need for housing in the Post-War period, Jacques Chaban-Delmas he idea of ​​making a new district of it, which was to be the symbol of the new Bordeaux.

We raze the neighborhood completely, to rebuild from scratch.


If there were many projects before the final version, “it is ultimately a slab town planning, this famous two-level town planning with cars below and pedestrians above” which is presented in 1970. And which arouses “A real incomprehension on the part of the inhabitants who do not locate themselves.

"It was the era of all cars: everything was done to allow people to arrive and leave by car.

“We don't come for a walk in Mériadeck, despite this large esplanade which is meant to breathe inside the islets.


Despite "mistrust and incomprehension", the project continues, and after housing, offices are set up, notably with large administrations, then major facilities in the 1980s, such as the ice rink.

“Then in the 2010s there was a new reflection to break the isolation of Mériadeck, considered as a fortress in the middle of the city, with the idea of ​​forging a link with Gambetta and the town hall.

In short, the story continues, with a major challenge that remains to be addressed, that of the transformation of the large esplanade into a public space.


Construction of the Aquitaine bridge

The construction of the Aquitaine bridge lasted seven years - departmental archives of the Gironde

The history of Bordeaux and the bridges is a turbulent one.

"It took seven years to build the Aquitaine bridge," recalls Françoise Le Lay, a huge project that was delivered in 1967. It is also linked to the entire automobile, since a structure was needed to transport vehicles between the north and the south.

It is only the third bridge of Bordeaux after the Pierre bridge in 1822, and the Saint-Jean bridge in 1965. After the war, one realizes that the city can no longer remain cut in two, with the development of populations on the right bank.


The rise of the right bank

In the 1960s, the ZUPs of Lormont, Cenon and Floirac were built, on the right bank of Bordeaux - A'Urba

The right bank started with the construction of Lormont, Cenon and Floirac ZUPs (priority areas to be urbanized) in the 1960s. “There is then a real housing crisis, and we must remember that upon their arrival, these ZUPs are symbols of modern comfort, and there is a certain social mix.

Then the neighborhoods became poorer with the crisis of the 1970s, housing was destroyed and rehabilitated.

The major ZAC Coeur de Bastide project saw the light of day in the 1990s and revived the right bank.

“We then redevelop the banks, and businesses come back to the Garonne.

This right bank has two great assets, nature with the Coteaux park, the Angéliques park, the botanical garden, and culture, with the choice of installing the Rocher de Palmer and more recently the Arena.

Darwin, who arrived at the end of the 2000s, is also a great attractor.


The transformation of the docks

In the years 1960-1970, there were up to twice five traffic lanes and large car parks on the quays of Bordeaux - a'urba-Denys Carrere

The quays are the symbol of the transformation of the city, for Bordeaux residents and visitors alike.

“What is impressive is the extent of this redevelopment, and the fact that there is a real before after.

In the years 1920-30, gates were erected there to separate the port's commercial activities from the rest of the city.

Port activity was then very important, with containers, freighters, large hangars, which were only demolished in the 1980s. And some Bordeaux residents still remember these large spaces in which cars were parked.

"From the 1960s onwards, automobile traffic became significant," with at a given time twice five lanes of traffic!

In short, the docks, "this is not a place where people go for a walk.

»On his arrival in 1995, Alain Juppé wanted to reclaim this space, find the river, and entrusted a major project to the landscape designer Michel Corajoud.

“The project lasts nine years, between 2000 and 2009, to create this large public space which has become the place for strolling in Bordeaux, with the emblem of the reflecting pool, and the tram that fits into it.


The arrival of the tram

inauguration of line A of the tram by Jacques Chirac and Alain Juppé in 2003 - Pascal Saura / Sipa

The tram was not just a transport project, but a city transformation project.

“This is what made Alain Juppé swing towards the choice of the tram.

It makes it the backbone of a large urban project, since there is in parallel the redevelopment of several public spaces: the Place Pey-Berland, the Victoire, the large courtyards ... The tram also creates the link between the right bank and the left bank with the first line put into service in 2003. Now, this is not the only solution to the problems of displacement in the metropolis either, it is certain, and it will be necessary in the future to act on various levers to improve the mobility of Bordeaux residents.


From the city to the metropolis, 50 years of town planning in Bordeaux

, published by Le Festin, 175 pages, 24 euros.


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