By Jean Paul et Marie Christine TAVIN

You who pass without seeing them… they look at you. Pedestrian, raise your nose and open your eyes…!

Too often unknown element of Bordeaux architecture, it is nevertheless a must: the mascarons.

Nearly 3,000 mascarons adorn the city’s facades and fountains. The mascaron is an ornament that marked the architecture of many French cities in the classical era, but it is in Bordeaux that one can admire the most important collection. Representing most of the time a human face, a god or an animal, we can often have the impression that they are watching us… Often wacky and twisted, these strange and mysterious faces raise many questions to those who take the time to observe them. You will find them located at the top of the arches of the windows and doors of some buildings.

Place de la Bourse, you will see the most beautiful, but your stroll through the city will make you discover others, original, funny…

In antiquity, the mascarons were used to “chase away the evil eye”, today it is a façade ornament. His inspirations are many, to the traditional Neptune and Bacchus are added fantastic and sometimes legendary animals, female figures, cherubs, carnival masks, animals, etc.

The mascarons of Bordeaux also tell the history of the city. It includes the reproduction of African faces in reference to the slave trade, the integration of Masonic symbols, Jews, Christians, or others related to wine and its trade…

These masks borrowed from the art of Greco-Latin antiquity, from the Renaissance, offer a lively and fanciful decoration on the facades of Bordeaux. They allow to animate the geometric rigor of the buildings by integrating with the architectural decors.