Report – BBC PESSAC Walk & Talk

We arrived from far and near, by various means of transport.  By car on the surface with dog, by car underground without dog, by bus and tram and on foot and all near the appointed meeting time.  We were 11 in all including Sami.

Like so many places around us, Pessac has a rich history (in all senses of the word) and it takes someone like Alain to reveal these cultural riches to us.  As usual he did this with great aplomb but one can only summarise here.  Join the walks to get the full story.

For a start; how many people know the origin of the name Pessac?  The “ac” derives from the lower Latin “acum” meaning a farm and this applies to the many “acs” there are around.  More controversial is the origin of Pess, thought possibly to be derived from ‘Pescius’ or ‘fisherman’… but there are other claims.

Pessac’s development could be said to have started in the period 1305 to 1314 when Pope Clement V received the lands at “Château Pape Clément”.

More recently, in the mid-19th century, the railway was developed between Bordeaux and La Teste.  This opened the way for day/weekend/holidays away from Bordeaux to be at the seaside.  More recently still, the TGV uses this stretch of line for part of the Paris-Arcachon connection but it is still in good use for local traffic.

There are examples of many styles of architecture and one in particular which many of us found both surprising and delightful.  At the end of the 19th century a casino was built but within 18 months, it had burnt down.  The district still carries the name and is full of beautiful houses in Art-Nouveau and Art-Déco styles.  In fact there were parts of our walk where the houses were more indicative of Arcachon than what is now part of the Bordeaux conurbation.

The centre of Pessac seemed very pleasant and must be really attractive in the summer of a normal year.  It has been redeveloped recently very tastefully with large traffic free areas.  On the perimeter of the centre, attractive affordable housing has been built, continuing the policies of the local council from whichever side of the political spectrum they have been over the years.  Rather refreshing!

So, again, we thank Alain for his research and presentation and for sharing his remarkable knowledge and memory with us.

Write-up Chris Rankin 7/2/21. Photo credit: Nigel Bond. 4-legged animation: Sami.

Photo cations: 1 in front of the church. 2 In front of the Mairie (1860/1990).                                                            3 / 4 The restored “Maison des Associations”, architecture ‘balnéaire’ fin 19ème.