Golf at Lacanau : Wednesday 21st October


By popular demand, and as a result of conflict with a competition at Lacanau, we switched venue. We were blessed with perfect weather but alas, only five players made it to this outing.

Lunch at the clubhouse was most enjoyable and was followed by a gentle nine holes on this lovely riverside course. As usual the play was followed by a debriefing of the play, taking ale on the sunny terrace of the club bistro.

Report by Brian M (also the organiser)

Gems of Bordeaux : Tour of Hotel Fruges & Basilique St. Seurin : Thursday 8th October

hotel-fruges-2We are privileged to have access to this private house (ex hotel) which was beautifully refurbished in 1920’s in classic Art Nouveau style.  Members may recall our visit earlier this year to le Corbusier’s fururistic development in Pessac,  Cité Fruges.  Hotel Fruges was the private home of wealthy businessman Henri Fruges, who engaged le Corbusier. For more information click here

Nearly 20 of us met outside the Basilique St. Seurin. We were split into two groups, as despite its name the ‘Hotel’ is a private house with space for 10 visitors only. Group A set off with Norma and a BBC bouquet which she presented to the owner of Hotel Frugés (also our guide) Catherine Bocquet!  Group B spent a fascinating 40 minutes exploring the Basilica.

The history of this dramatic and beautiful church which is not only the oldest in Bordeaux, but below it lies evidence of the first habitation in the city, during the Gallo-Roman period. The earliest church existed in 6th Century, with the main internal structure, and lovely carvings appearing in 14th Century. Much of the exterior appeared in 18th and 19th Century during a major enlargement. Of major interest was the Crypt containing carved marble sepulchres from 6th Century. The internal stonework of the church, including supporting pillars, impressive vaulting and beautiful carvings, was dramatic and in remarkably good condition. It also provided great acoustics and a lovely sense of calm, the stained glass windows enhanced this effect. Those members who joined Alain Mounalou on his pilgrims’ tour through Bordeaux last year will recall that this church was the starting point.

It was then time for Group B to visit Hotel Frugés, aided by Michele Loret who acted as interpreter. The history of the building since it was ‘modernised’ in Art Nouveau style by Henri Frugés in 1920s has been somewhat sad, as owing to the Recession, and the falling market for cane sugar (on which he had built his wealth) he had to sell it. Prior to the current owner it was the Surgery for a Radiologist who adapted it to the practice needs by painting over and boarding in the Art Nouveau masterpieces!

Since acquiring it Catherine and others have undertaken a huge restoration project, returning much of the interior to its Art Nouveau and Art Deco state, preserving it as a masterpiece of this era. From the front there is little to differentiate it from the adjacent terraced properties, except the top corner, a loggia with dramatic inclined and richly decorated circular roof. Internally one is confronted by the 5 story hall with sinuous welded bannisters, inspired by seaweed, and topped by a dramatic welded roof light. The pictures hopefully serve better than a description, some scanned copies from a book must suffice.

Catherine provided an excellent introduction, aided by Michele. As well as his business interests M. Fruges had major interest in current art and architecture, witness commissioning le Corbusier for his famous City Fruges development in Pessac. He commissioned nearly 30 leading French designers, artists, sculptors, blacksmiths and decorators under the direction of architect Pierre Ferret to make his personal house a museum of the arts and techniques of the early 20th century.

After our introduction in the hall Catherine led us to the ‘working’ kitchen, which has modern appliances, but rich Art Deco features on the wall, alas the original ornate ceiling has been covered. The dining room is most exotic and after extensive renovation reproduces the classic Art Nouveau decoration and furniture. We were then shown the terrace and garden, with impressive Art Deco mosaic fountain and large seat. The garden, surrounded by adjacent properties was surprisingly calm and well stocked. It has not always been so calm, not many years ago a hurricane destroyed much of the high level roof terrace, but the unusual gymnasium which occupies the top floor survived. Alas our tour did not include seeing the dramatic Art deco mosaic bathroom.

Our tour groups reunited and a short walk led us to the ‘English Country Kitchen’ which we ‘took over’ and enjoyed scones, with clotted cream and jam, and a large range of teas from traditional teapots with friendly service in a very English (even West country) environment.

A great trip with thanks to all involved, especially our organiser Norma C. We learnt a lot about this fascinating decorative style of the 20’s and are clearly indebted to Henry Frugés, and the present owners for letting us share this ‘Gem of Bordeaux’

Report and photos by Phil C






BORDEAUX CHRISTMAS MARKET AND DINNER – Friday, 4th December 2015 at 18:45

vinchaudYes it’s that time of year again and we haven’t even finished sweeping up the autumn leaves! We start our festive season of events with a visit to Bordeaux’s Christmas market on Friday 4th December followed by dinner at “Entrecote” to enjoy a delicious steak dinner.

We hope that you will join us and have a wander around the Christmas market, packed with stalls full of interesting items or indulge in a little Christmas shopping or, maybe just to enjoy a glass or two of vin chaud and chat with friends. entrecoteAfter the market we have arranged to eat dinner at the popular restaurant ‘Entrecote’ to enjoy a steak smothered in their famous secret sauce. The price is 19 euros for steak, frites and salad. Desserts are 5,50 to 6 euros; house wine red or rose 14 euros per bottle and coffee is 1,40 euro.. The steak here is very good and never disappoints.

The market is situated in Allee Des Tourney (opposite the Grand Theatre) and we meet at the vin chaud bar which is situated at the cross roads in the centre of the market from 6.45pm, followed by dinner at 20.30pm. If you would like to join us please book online or contact either Norma B or Colette.  Closing date Tuesday 1st December 2015.


Map showing  our meeting place and the Entrecote Restaurant


Visits to the Musée de la Machine à Coudre and the Maison Contonale: Bordeaux-Bastide

* Musée de la Machine à Coudre


On a beautiful sunny morning a group of BBC members assembled at La Maison Brasserie in Place de la Stalingrad, Bordeaux where we enjoyed coffee and croissant before our visit to the Musee Machine a Coudre.

The Musee is a private collection of vintage sewing machines assembled by the patron M. Nonet who enthralled us with his enthusiasm and passion for these beautiful old machines. Smiles were brought to our faces as he regaled us with his anecdotes on the history and how he sought out the machines from all over Europe.

The collection contains some truly beautiful machines not only ingenious pieces of engineering but beautiful works of art. All the machines have been lovingly restored to their former glory by M. Nonet. The first model of sewing machine to have a light most certainly would not conform to modern standards of health and safety, this ornately decorated machine was embellished with a candlestick!

Other machines were decorated with colourful birds, flowers and some inlaid with mother of pearl and semi precious stones. We were even shown very tiny functioning machines to go in dolls houses and machines that can sit on your hand. On being shown into a storage area we were amazed to see shelves stacked ceiling to floor with some very old machines awaiting renovation.

Lunch was back at La Brasserie Maison, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch all the food freshly prepared on the premises. The young team running this restaurant made us feel very welcome with their warm and friendly service and definitely worth a try.

* Maison Cantonale


Following lunch, suitably fed and watered, it was a short walk to the Maison Cantonale, Bastide. This beautiful old building is a listed historic monument, designed by Cyprien Alfred-Duprat, construction started in 1913 and unfortunately interrupted due to the first world war, it’s inauguration did not take place until 1927.

The building is quite unique and is a blend of art deco and art nouveau in style and is constructed out of stone, brick, wood, ceramic and wrought iron.  It was designed to house a purpose built court of justice of peace and its dependencies, a police commissioner with housing, a library, a conference hall and a municipal sub-office. The building underwent extensive renovations in 2005.

We were allowed to wander at our leisure through several public rooms and admire the architecture.

Thank you very much to Colette for organising the day and the sunshine. (Report by Norma B)

ceiling   front_DOORS

Drama Group Rehearsal: 28th September 2015 at 10:30 - Allo Allo, listen very carefully, I shall say 'zis only once!

Cathy Mason leads our drama group to create two shows: one which could be seen in December just after the Christmas dinner and the same one again in the summer 2016. 

alloalloWe are rehearsing something simple, a comedy which most of us will already know from the BBC TV sitcom  “ALLO ALLO”… “parodie” of the French Resistance during World War II. It is full of humour and funny accents which we already practice regularly in the association!
So, if you feel that you can contribute your talent as an actor or your knowledge as a producer or simply if you have a good sense of humour, come and join us.  Cathy’s contact details are in the Members Area here or please complete the form below:
Are you sitting comfortably? Then click the play button!


Guided Walk 'Parc de l’Ermitage' & 'Iris Parc': Lormont - Tuesday 22nd September at 11:00




Location and History

Lormont is a scenic suburb of Bordeaux on the right bank of the Garonne river. The name means Laurel Hill and comes from old days when this wood was sacred to the Gauls.

To-day Lormont is known for its attractive view of the Garonne and Bordeaux and it charming little old centre with the Church of St, Martin, founded 778 by Charlemagne, and Chateau de Lormont where Eleanor of Aquataine stayed and the Black Prince’s ill-fated son Richard II was born.

We set out under the aegis of our knowledgeable guide, Alain to visit the beautiful and hilly parks of Iris and Hermitage which include a lake (ex-quarry), 23 chateaux and the old town of Lormont, the name deriving from Laurel Hill.

Although we experienced rain and sun in equal parts during the day, Alain’s tour with historic information and stops at interesting points kept us enthusiastic. We saw the splendid Chateau les Iris, presently used by a local lycée for sports and cultural activities, as well as sweeping overviews of the Garonne and Bordeaux. We arrived in the old Lormont town centre in time to fall gratefully into the Restaurant de la Belle Rose on the riverbank for lunch. The railroad which arrived in the mid 1880’s still runs overhead and the Pont d’Aquitaine spans the river in close proximity.

After lunch we visited St. Martin’s Church with a local guide and translation by Alain. The church was founded in 778 by Charlemagne and had several renovations over the centuries, including one by Pey Berland. The church has a warm, welcoming atmosphere and the painting on the walls is exquisite.

Some of our party returned to the left bank by the river shuttle. A good time was had by all.

A big thank you is due to Alain for this fascinating and informative tour, and also to Bjarne Christiansen for arranging our excursion.

Report by Gail, Photos by Phil are here

River Cruise back to Bordeaux




Vendage and Family Day: Domaine de la Chouette - 31st August - 4th September & 12th September

vendageOur good friends at Domaine de la Choette, 5 la Bernede Est, 33210 Léogeats (click here for a map) are planning to do a large friends/family harvesting day (Merlot) at Domaine de la Chouette on Saturday 12th of September and is open to club members.

Generally harvest in the morning and then provide a lunch (and wine tasting) in the afternoon.

We will also be doing whites and rose picking next week (in the mornings) and are short of hands so if anyone is looking for an experience we are happy to have helpers!

Family Day – Saturday 12th September

Harvesting merlot for the red wine so no pressing but lunch and wine tasting in the afternoon.  It is not an option to come just for the afternoon, at least one member of the family must do some work in the morning to earn the lunch!  Kids are also welcome and can work/play as they wish.  The vineyard is well away from roads and very safe for kids.

We will need people to confirm in advance for food and equipment planning.


Booking Details

If the weather is not going to be good we will cancel the evening before so people don’t make the trip unnecessarily.

If anyone is interested or has further questions please complete the on-line booking form here as soon as possible




TEE - THE ENGLISH EVENING - Tuesday 3rd November

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Golf at Gujan-Mestras : Thursday 10th September


After a well-earned peak season break, the new BBC head coach for golf, Brian, on special leave, it was rumoured, from management of his goat farm, and following his appointment for an undisclosed fee in 2014, was present at Gujan Mestras to put the BBC Ryder Cup candidates through their paces.

The business of the day commenced sitting down to a club-house lunch when Ted, the resident BBC toastmaster general, reminded us we were momentarily missing the joyous company of a number of good friends. Surprised or relieved by the lack of any narrative to accompany Ted’s thoughtful and spontaneous initiative, we immediately and very happily raised our glasses to Desmond’s, Lucinda’s and Roger’s continued good healths, long lives and happiness, and hoped that, in 2016, we and other BBC members will have the pleasure of their Aquitaineous company again soon.

A result of top level BBC management planning, two designated groups of players : team ‘A’ (David) and team ‘B’ (John) eventually teed off at 1.50pm and 2.20pm respectively.

With the loss of only one ball, and a fair sprinkling of par 4’s, on this clement and sunny afternoon, the two groups successfully completed two full nine holes by 5.00pm, before retiring to the terrace at the interestingly located 19th hole where at last they were able to remedy any possible slight dryness in the throat and were able to swap stories about the size of the one that got away and to congratulate Ted who, it might have been assumed, was born in a golf buggy, for his masterly display and incident-free afternoon behind the wheel.

Report by Anthony D

Guided Tour and Picnic at Chateau la Brede



Pictures of the visit are here.

Fancy a cool day with a blue sky, nearly 40 cheerful BBC visitors and a couple of smiling, learned lady guides for a private visit: the ideal set-up for an outing at the Château de La Brède. There were so many of us that we had to split into two groups.

The château stands proudly in the midst of the valley of a little tributary of the Garonne. What makes it known is that it is a well-preserved mediaeval fortress with a wide moat in a pleasant expanse of meadows, but mostly that it was the family seat of Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu et de La Brède.

We enjoyed a detailed visit of the apartments, where Montesquieu and his wife and 3 children lived, and then a tour of the grounds.

Though Montesquieu was a senior magistrate at the Bordeaux law courts, he spent time in Paris every year and went on a grand tour of Italy, Germany and England thanks to a rich uncle’s bequest… which was not so common then among the French as among the English aristocracy. Meanwhile Mme de Montesquieu, who was NOT a beauty but had an excellent head for business, stayed home and managed the numerous family estates. Montesquieu was in constant contact with the best brains of Europe and became a member of the academies of the towns he visited as well as of the Académie des Sciences et Arts de Bordeaux. He had a keen interest in sciences, agricultural improvement… and the selling of his wine in northern Europe. He has made a name for himself as the author of L’Esprit des Lois (1748), which carried on from Locke’s Treatises on Government, theorized the separation of the three estates as a cornerstone of a well-balanced government and directly influenced the Declaration of Independence (1774) and the Constitution of the United States (1791).

Next to the château he created a model farm integrating 3 adjoining sections for farm workers’ quarters, dairy production and wine production. He also created a French garden with a major vista along a strip of meadow and a “love garden” to the side, curtained off from view by a wooded strip. Was it for his own private flirtations away from Mme de Montesquieu’s eyes? Being handicapped, she could hardly follow him around.

The garden is currently being recreated after an 18th century plan discovered among the Montesquieu archives. These and over 3000 of his books were donated in 1994 to the Bordeaux metropolitan library by the last descendant of the family, the Comtesse Jacqueline de Chabannes, who left the house and estate to the foundation that now runs the place.

The love garden is inscribed in a diamond-shaped plot, with eight grass roundels surrounding a central space. The overall design is an 8-pointed star inscribed in 3 triangles, which illustrates Montesquieu’s character by suggesting faith in man first and then in some sort of deity (the two 4-pointed stars jump to the eye at once, 4 being the figure of the human element, while the 3 triangles -3 for the holy trinity or the godly element- appear at second sight) and a concern for economy with NO round ponds and water spouts (expensive plumbing, etc.) but rounds of cheaper grass though the garden was laid down in marshy soil with plenty of water.

Quite some lad, Monsieur Montesquieu had very poor eyesight which, like Milton’s, failed him and his daughter Denise was his secretary for years and wrote down L’Esprit des Lois and Montesquieu’s letters for him. The other daughter, Marie, is undocumented, the son carried on the running of the father’s estates but not his intellectual activity while the grandson fought in the American Independence War (which in a way seems appropriate) and died childless after marrying an English heiress.

The house has kept a sizable collection of furniture, a set of family portraits (NOT in the Reynolds class but interesting), and the 19th century bookcases (now empty) in the large, vaulted library and dark paneling in the dining room, with recesses in the thick mediaeval walls for washrooms, a secretary’s cubby hole, original tiled floors with typical local pink baked clay tiles.

How we then enjoyed a long sit-down and convivial picnic-cum-chat close to the Lac Bleu at Léognan afterwards! With the vendanges almost in full swing around, the only sensible thing was to enjoy the sunshine, the breeze and the good company. Which we all did!

Pictures of the visit are here