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Beautiful Bordeaux

I'm pretty busy writing on the days I'm not working to earn money (my salaried postdoc doesn't start until 2013). Although writing and research for academic publications and Dawn Chorus in Eden are priorities right now, I don't want to neglect the blog. So, this week I'm posting some of the photographs from Bordeaux during the ESHE conference last month. Bordeaux is the city where I'll be living and working for the Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship starting next year. The old centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and certainly the architecture is fascinating. I hope to get to know it better while I live there!

 A beautiful sunset on the first evening, looking at the Palais de Justice, which was the view from the apartment I stayed in.

Inside the lovely St Stephen's Cathedral, which was right on the square where the conference building was.

A nice bit of pavement cafe action, we were sitting and having a beautiful strong coffee at once little place, facing this other pretty one.

The streetlights in the old city are very pretty, all brass and either hanging like this or on fittings on the corners of buildings. Virtually all of the city centre is in this lovely architectural style, a lot of ornamentation wherever you look.

A really fantastical display we came across, couldn't work out if it was for a shop or some kind of bar or restaurant. All the glass bulbs are filled with broken models of babies...

It was really interesting to walk around and see some of the changing history of Bordeaux. Here the original name of the Place du Palais Royal, which was the square where the Bishop's palace was located, has been architecturally disrespected by later additions of the lantern. The square is now Place de la Republique. Other place names elsewhere were changed or scrubbed out.

A bit of an arty shot of an alley near St Peters.

Bordeaux seems to have whole shops/cafes dedicated to its speciality, the canele. These are like little custard-rum sponges, we had some at the ESHE party buffet.

 More cafe culture in the Place de Parlement. Graffiti on the roof tops reminded me of Berlin.

More gently decaying architectural splendour, just on a residential street in the city. The sign also shows that the route for Santiago-Compostella runs through Bordeaux.

A really interesting building we found, the whole thing was rotting away, but clearly had been something important, with huge entrance doors. A man in a wine shop nearby told us the sculpture was masonic, with the headless man being the architect of the building, who had tried inside to create a story of Bordeaux through his designs. The wine man proceeded to laugh at the cheapskate price of wine we bought for a picnic by the river, telling us it was only good for cooking!

 Light falling onto the Cathedral and St Stephens Tower with gold-plated virgin statue. View from apartment kitchen.

A final lovely sunset after a really heavy rainstorm.

It's really exciting to be moving to such an interesting and beautiful new city, and I can't wait to explore more of it. I didn't have time to get out and see the campus of Universite of Bordeaux 1 where I will be based at the PACEA laboratory. For mega Palaeolithic-geek points, the metro stop right outside the lab building is called "Francois Bordes"- the French prehistorian extraordinaire, who among other things created the whole typology (classification system) for Palaeolithic stone tools still used by researchers today, albeit with modifications and in different ways. I WILL be getting a photo of that as soon as I get over again!

This is in fact matched in archaeological nerd terms only by the "Levallois" metro stop in Paris, which is the name for a type of lithic technology virtually synonymous with the Neanderthals and the Middle Palaeolithic, where you prepare a core by removing flakes to create a particular volume and shape, allowing the subsequent removal of nice big flakes or blades with relatively predictable proportions.

Bordeaux is also only 1.5 hours from the Dordogne, with the French National Museum of Prehistory and umpteen amazing caves, including Le Moustier, the type site for the name of the Neanderthal culture, the Mousterian, and the only polychrome painted cave still open to the public in France, Font de Gaume. I'm very excited to visit these places again too.

The TRACETERRE project I created for my Marie Curie Fellowship will however be in south-east France, working on lithic assemblages from the foothills of the Massif Central in Ardeche and Haut-Loire, so some of the time I'll be working there in the field, and some at the laboratory in Bordeaux.
I'm going to write a post about the TRACETERRE project before long, and it may get it's own blog too; in fact I'd love to have feedback on this. Do you want to read about the work I'll be doing in a separate blog to this one? As always, any comments on this and the rest of The Rocks Remain are gratefully received! Thanks for reading.


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