By Patrick Robert

In 2007, UNESCO inscribed on the World Heritage List half of the city of Bordeaux, 1810 ha and 376 buildings. Every month, discover in this space an emblematic monument of the city.

This month: Place de la Bourse

Inaugurated in 1749, the Place de la Bourse is an example of classical French architecture, designed by the architect of King Jacques Gabriel, and completed by his son Ange-Jacques. First pierced in the medieval walls of the city of Bordeaux, it served as a setting for the equestrian statue of Louis XV, melted at the Revolution, and now hosts in its center the Fountain of the Three Graces.

In 1730, Intendant Claude Boucher hired the King’s architect to direct the construction of a new royal square. A veritable urban and architectural revolution, it liberates Bordeaux from part of its medieval walls.

This rectangular square looks towards the Garonne and deploys two main axes towards the old center. With cut sides, it exhibits elegant and ordered facades, decorated with mascarons and ironwork, perfectly representing the classical architecture of this eighteenth century.

The square is structured to the north by the former Palais de la Bourse, which now houses the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bordeaux, and to the south by the Hôtel des Fermes, today hosting the National Museum of Customs. The square offers a masterful setting for the Fontaine des Trois Grâces, which dominates the centre of the rectangle. Built in 1869, it was designed by Louis Visconti (the architect of Napoleon’s tomb in Les Invalides.

The facades of blond stone are rich in allegories and symbols. Neptune, god of the White Waters and Springs and protector of the boatmen, shares the stage with Bacchus, god of Wine, Mercury, god of Commerce, and Minerva, goddess of War and Arts.

Victor Hugo qualified it as follows: «This Place Royale, is simply a half of Place Vendôme, posed at the edge of the water». The square combines perfectly with the Water Mirror added in 2004, and offers a prestigious decor for many events in the Gironde capital.