Report – Talence Walk & Talk 26/02/2021

10 little walkers…   At first there were 7, then 8, then finally 9 of us, wearing masks, and Sami, without a mask of course.    

It all started with the usual information about the place… and the guide handing out of the notes to be studied before the next exam session. In French this time… What will you/Que voulez-vous, nobody’s perfect… We started from neoclassical Eglise Notre-Dame (1840s, enlarged 1960) and the lovely 1780s presbytery with its original peacock and cockerel bas-reliefs. Our next stage was along the Ruisseau d’Ars valley lined with the buildings of the new science faculty, from the earliest (1960s) to the more recent ones. The place is unnaturally quiet and empty with 75% of students ‘en télétravail’. On our way back, we had a good look at Château Margaut (with a ‘t’), a 1770s pleasure house by Laclotte and at Château Peixotto, now the Mairie, built by Victor Louis, the Grand Théâtre architect, for merchant-banker Samuel Peixotto. An extra floor was added in the 19th century but the building has kept graceful proportions.

The grounds are a public park, with a clump of sequoias in the distance.In 1883, the lower section, with its formal water fed by the Ruisseau d’Ars, became a botanical garden for the University of Bordeaux. Back to tram B and cars… and a hot drink as the wind was blowing a bit fresh.

The name – The territory of the present commune of Talence was for a long time covered with woods with a few scattered hamlets. The name ‘Talence’ may take its origin from these woods, it would be derived from “tala”, which means the cutting of wood -see ‘tailler’, to cut, to prune trees. The place-names “Talanssa, Talencia, Talance” appeared in the 13th century. Talence remained a prized hunting territory for the dukes of Aquitaine -especially the Black Prince (1330-1376) who had a hunting lodge built there after 1355- and the local lords.              

                                                                                         History, geography, economy – Talence became a village at the turn of the 19th century with a church and a centre, then a suburb of            Bordeaux which prospered with the tolls on the roads to La Teste to the North, Bayonne in the middle and finally Toulouse to the East, the last two leading to Compostela. These induced people to stop and rest and feed… and evade the Bordeaux toll gates…     After World War Two, the vast tracts of sparsely populated sandy lands and forests at Talence and Pessac were chosen to accommodate the fast-developing Bordeaux University which was cramped inside the central Bordeaux Facultés of the 1880s.

This has given Talence a huge boost, with over 65 000 students on the campus. Talence has the highest population density in Gironde, with over 5 000 inhabitants per square km… and the building sites are currently going strong with 6 floors now the norm all over the place. The territory is drained by the Peugue to the North, the ’Ruisseau de Talence / d’Ars’ in the middle and ‘L’Eau Bourde’ to the South. Starting from the three above-mentioned thoroughfares, the rich bourgeois of Bordeaux built country houses and developed wine estates. Talence remained a rural area until the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, it became an urban area and industry developed: metallurgy, chemicals, aviation, shoes, a slaughterhouse, biscuit and chocolate factories. Today: technological research firms… and apartment blocks