2017 – Sammies meet Pope in Bordeaux


The program for the day covers 900 years of history !

A day out in central Bordeaux with a visit to the cathedral St Andre and then lunch followed a free guided tour of the “Voilà les Américains” exhibition at Centre Jean Moulin. The three locations are easily accessible in central Bordeaux and are within 500 metres of each other.

Meeting place and time

Meet at 11:00 at the Club des Retraités MGEN, 35 cours Pasteur, Bordeaux which is where we had the Brexit meeting with the British Embassy official from Paris in September 2016).

The Club is opposite the Musée d’Aquitaine, next to Tram B (Pessac/Bacalan) Musée d’Aquitaine stop, one stop away from Tram A (Mérignac-Lormont) Hôtel de Ville stop at the cathedral St Andre. and 500m away from the Place de la Victoire bus/tram hub.

The Club is a convenient meeting place with seating and facilities.


After meeting up at the Club, Alain will take us around the cathedral St Andre for a guided visit. We will see some of the spectacular results from the major restoration works and get a more complete view of the inside than we had for the Compostella tour that we did 3 years ago.

The imposing and well restored royal entrance in the north wall of the nave epitomises 13th century French Gothic architecture.

Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, the future king of France, were married there 1137, as were Anne of Austria and Louis XIII. The cathedral was used to store fodder during the French Revolution and suffered a devastating fire in the 19th century. A very varied history !!


Around 12.30 we lunch at Le Dragon Doré, 9 rue Paul Louis Landes (50m away from the Club).

It’s a small place run by a friendly Cambodian couple who cook fresh food daily as customers come in, so the food doesn’t stand for hours in warming-up containers.

There is a buffet-lunch for 14€ excluding drinks/coffee/tea. Please pay for your lunch at the restaurant.

Voilà les Américains !

After lunch at 14:30, we have a free guided visit around the 1917 – Voilà les Américains exhibition at the Centre National Jean Moulin which is opposite the cathedral spires on the corner of rue Vital Carles.

In April 1917, the USA sent an a large army to France comprising about two million soldiers at its peak. On 21st June 1917, Bordeaux became the headquarters of Base 2 for the Service of Supply responsible for the procurement, reception and organisation of the immense amount of supplies to support a large fighting army in Europe. American troops also arrived in large numbers at Brest and Saint Nazaire for onward transit to the front line.

The exhibition reveals the realities of the arrival and the installation of the Americans in Bordeaux and their associated logistics.

1917 was marked by the Russian Revolution, mutinies, the new military presence of the Americans in the conflict and the start of a hard fight to eventual victory by the Allies which was achieved in 1918. The exhibition shows the daily life of American troops as evoked through relationships with people (weddings, births, deaths), as well as problems of hygiene and health. The inherent diseases and accidents caused the establishment of proper health services.

The American soldiers were nicknamed Sammies after the iconic Uncle Sam and the presence of the Americans in the Gironde brought many influences including Jazz and also the YMCA (Young Man’s Christian Association) !

The exhibition is designed as part of the commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War, in partnership with the cities of Bassens, Lormont, Merignac, Carbon Blanc, the Metropolitan Archives and the Departmental Archives of the Gironde.


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