Bordeaux as a Pilgrimage City – 16 February 2014


What do a long walking staff, a broad-brimmed hat, a water gourd, a scallop shell and a « stamp » book all have in common, you might ask?  Well, they are the necessaries of pilgrims following The Route of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle.

While it may be true all roads lead to Rome, many of them lead to Bordeaux as well, which is where
pilgrims following The Route of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle (now on the UNESCO World Heritage List) stopped to pray on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Bordeaux is rich in heritage, but to see it you sometimes have to keep your eyes on the ground! Following our guide, Alain, and the brass studs embedded in the city’s pavement and sidewalks, we walked a section of the pilgrim route where it passes through downtown Bordeaux.  We picked up thetrail at the basilica of Saint Seurin where are housed religious relics (feet, anyone?!) in whose vicinity pilgrims pray.  We then walked to the cathedral of Saint André, just as the pilgrims did and still do today, in which can be found a chapel dedicated to Saint James.  Next, our walk took us through various streets, down to the basilica of Saint Michel where we did not actually go inside, preferring to save that for another day once the reconstruction of the surrounding plaza is complete. And besides, it was time for our lunch in the nearby Café Tupina on the quay located near our final destination, the church of SainteCroix.  This church (once a hospice) welcomed mental patients by offering metal rings to which they could be tied during mass.  At each religious edifice can be found a multitude of sculptures and statues referring to St. James and the Golden Age of pilgrimage, if one knows just where to look.

We all agreed we would like to continue this series of discoveries in Bordeaux with our informative guide.  So, keep your eyes wide open . . . and join in the next adventure!
Our thanks to guide, Alain, and organizer Bjarne for all their work to make this
such an enjoyable day for each of us.  (Report by Elizabeth)