Place De La Bourse and The Miroir D’eau

The Miroir D’eau, otherwise known as the world’s largest reflecting pool, is a pool which goes by many names; Water Mirror, Miroir D’eau and even Miroir Des Quais. But whilst it can be confusing knowing what to call the impressive pool, one thing’s for sure; with it’s location straight in front of Place De La Bourse, it’s one heck of a sight.

I passed the Place De La Bourse on my way into Bordeaux and immediately knew I had to photograph it. Unfortunately, I got sick which meant that the day of my arrival was not the day for exploring. Luckily, after a refreshing night in I was back in good health and so the following day I packed my belongings onto the bike and rode into the middle of Bordeaux for a little exploring before continuing on my way.

Whilst I’d like to tell you that what happened next was elegantly simple, the truth is far from it, because due to many French restaurant owners not permitting use of their restroom I had to change in the street… Classy, I know. Luckily, I was wearing my trusty black dress, which you’ve seen in most of these road trip photos (this is precisely why).

A few uncomfortable stares later and I was dressed, or technically undressed considering I was wearing significantly less layers than before. After locking up the bike to a nearby tree I wandered alongside the tram lines (from a safe distance obviously) until I got to the Place De La Bourse. There was a boating event on the river Garonne that very same day and combined with the gorgeous 30°c weather, it made for an incredibly busy environment, but the square was beautiful nonetheless.

The Place De La Bourse was built between 1730 to 1775 by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel and was most recently (2004) part of an urban requalification which saw the redevelopment of the wharves and the installation of the very tramway I walked next to, to find myself in that spot. Way back in the day, the Place De La Bourse was actually separated from the River Garonne by railings, but during the French Revolution these disappeared, which is just as well because the open space that remains, is much more beautiful.

Inside that space is the Three Graces, a fountain named after the three Graces who were daughters of Zeus; Aglae, Thalie and Euphrosyne. Adorned with both marble and bronze the fountain stands proud in the center of the square and was brought to creation by Alphonse Gumery and the sculptor Amédée Jouandot, after seeing Ludovico Visconti’s drawings. The spot where the Three Graces now stands has a long history, as it was once occupied by other statues. The first statue was a bronze equestrian statue of Louis XV which was created by Jean-Baptiste Lemoine however, it was melted during the revolution and replaced by one of Napoleon. Napoleon’s statue was only there for a brief time and was replaced by the Fountain of the Three Graces in 1869 where they have remained ever since.

After marvelling at the architecture I crossed the road towards the river’s edge, spread out my motorbike jackets and parked my derrières down for a rest. Because, ya’know, walking 100m is super tiring. With both the Miroir D’eau and Place De La Bourse in front of me it was the perfect opportunity to run through the mist and cool down. Unfortunately a thousand (possible exaggeration – maybe – who knows) other people also thought the same and so getting that ‘lone’ photo was out of the picture, but it did make for some epic people watching.

Set on the Quay alongside the Garonne river edge, the Miroir D’eau was built back in 2006 and I’m guessing it’s been a point of pride ever since because all 37,100 square feet were covered with people, of all ages, gleefully running through the fountain as the water cycles changed. The Miroir D’eau is made of granite with approximately 2cm of water which sits covering the top. This water never deepens but the Miroir spends three minutes filling to that point before giving fifteen minutes of the mirror effect which you can see in the below picture

The Miroir D’eau then empties for five minutes before creating three minutes of fog. This cycle creates the most gorgeous mirror and mist effect, which combined with the Place De La Bourse, makes for a beautifully theatrical backdrop. It also makes residents and tourists alike incredibly happy because if you’ve had sweaty feet on a hot day, you’ll know how much fun fountains are. And this one? It’s designed so that running through it is publically acceptable. But only when it’s warm, because even though the Miroir D’eau runs through the water cycle everyday from 10:00am to 10:00pm it only does so in the summer months and closes for maintenance during winter.

As we sat down doing, not a lot to be honest, it was plain to see that regardless of age everybody loved the fountain. Elderly grandmas chased after grandchildren, mothers and sons paddled their feet, a man with a dog (too far away for me to pet *sob sob*) cooled off from the beating down sun, and a group of school children repeatedly ran lengths because children have unlimited amounts of energy. Weirdos. Around the edge of the Miroir D’eau people sat picnicking, and if I wasn’t so happy just sat there watching the world go by, I would have been positively furious that I didn’t bring cheese.

I sat there for a while picking up my stuff and wandering along the side of the Garonne admiring the nearby architecture.

Before making my way back to the bike to hit the road ready for the next chapter of my French road trip…

over and out,
Amy Morgan