If you’re caught short sightseeing in Bordeaux, the shopping centre at Mériadeck is the place to go. Clean, warm, friendly toilets with an attendant on hand to pass you lavender scented towels as you leave.
Redeveloped in the mid-sixties, Mériadeck is the quartier d’affaires (business district) of Bordeaux. A world away from the neoclassical-baroque-Roman architecture of the city, but still strangely pleasant.
The shopping centre itself being a scaled up version of the Victoria Centre in Nottingham if you’ve ever been. Lots of yellow lighting and tall wide mirrors remind you that it was built in less cynical times when new shopping centres were regarded as beacons of progress rather than theatres of mass consumerism.
It’s not that dissimilar from le centre commercial Part Dieu in Lyon which I wrote about in Blogley 81. The only difference being, the pleasing lack of security personnel.
Some mornings in Lyon there were so many grouchy cops, pedantic fire wardens and chunked-up security guards on display, it was like walking through a military zone. Or a video game in which the only aim was to kill as many as possible with an enormous machine gun.
I mean, it was only a shopping centre. True there was an Apple Store and a Carrefour stacked with enough booze for a thousand stag parties. But surely the eighty or so pseudo-military personal on view was a bit OTT?
I am sure Carrefour Corporation could have lost the odd bottle of Pastis or Vodka. And I bet the iPads on display in the Apple Store weren’t real. Polystyrene dummies more like. Just like the eager-beaver shop assistants that assaulted you with AppleSpeak the moment you walked in and who probably still had pin-ups of Steve Jobs on their wall.
Mériadeck isn’t like that – it hasn’t got an Apple store for one. Just two stoned security guards floating casually about from the coffee vending machines on Floor One to the toilets on Floor Two. So now you know. Floor Two. Just past the electronics store.
There are also eight badminton courts along the same road. A concealed sports hall complex that you enter via a long dark concrete tunnel at number 30 Rue Claude Bonnier. It feels like entering the secret hideout of a Bond villain, but once inside looks and smells just like any other sports based arena. Concrete walls, Deepheat and smelly socks.
I lost my match 4-0 on Monday morning, but didn’t disgrace myself in the slightest. I enjoyed it so much in fact that I’ve decided to take up Badminton on the grounds of it being easier on my legs and back than tennis or squash. Plus I enjoyed the subtle element to the game that reminded me of swatting flies on the farm in Queaux.
I’ve been to Mériadeck quite a lot recently for one thing or another. Food shopping, kitchen wares, hat-scarf-and-gloves (cold here now), electronic peripheries, emergency toilet stops. And the truth is, I like it. And I’ve never said that about a shopping centre before.