Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux!

Ok so this is another that escape me from my posts, mentioned briefly in general posts but feel deserves a post on its own. Even if sad to say have not been inside this one, just passing by in my many trips to Bordeaux. Oh well, so much to see in my belle France, I will be back!

For now let me tell you a bit on the history of this wonderful monument ; the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, and I like it. I found two older pics in my vault and rather than a new post will add them here.Pics from paper pics so excuse the quality, they are old.

The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, was commissioned by Marshal Richelieu, Governor of Guyenne, and built by the architect Victor Louis, was inaugurated on April 7, 1780 with the representation of Athalie by Jean Racine. Nearly more than two hundred years of various uses or successive transformations of its rooms as of its environment, it found, at the same time its interior decoration blue, gold and white marble of origin on the occasion of its last restoration in 1991 and its perspective as a temple of the muses with the development of the Place de la Comédie and the Cours du Chapeau-Rouge in 2006. The Grand Théâtre is today the headquarters of the National Opera of Bordeaux, which programs its lyrical season and the performances of the Opera Ballet In Bordeaux.


The jurats had built in 1738 a stone hall in the gardens of the old city/town hall, then located near the Grosse-Cloche, according to the plans of the city’s architect, Montégut, a theater with a capacity of 1,500 places which was destroyed by fire on the night of December 28 to 29, 1755. A theater was built in 1760 at the entrance to rue de la Corderie (now rue Condillac) near place Dauphine. However, a permanent theatre was sought by the locals and with many offers finally was chosen in 1761 by Marshal Richelieu, duke of Fronsac and governor of Guyenne, for the passing troops, comedy, tragedy and opera then neighbor with the Récollets convent. However, the Marshal-Duke of Richelieu, himself a shareholder of the company, and governor of Guyenne, having great influence, managed to impose the Parisian architect Victor Louis to whom he had attached the services for the remodeling of his Parisian mansion.

The Maréchal-duc de Richelieu, grand-nephew of Cardinal Richelieu, appointed governor of Guyenne in 1755 is a Freemason. He asked the architect Victor Louis , affiliated in 1775-1779 to the lodge “Française de l’Orient” in Bordeaux, to build the Grand Théâtre. The first stone was laid on April 13, 1776 , a symbolic stone as the theatre was already under construction for 3 years by Louis-Philippe d’Orléans then Grand Master of French masons. Built between 1773 and 1780 on the glacis of the Trumpet castle on the site of the Gallo-Roman forum where the temple of the Pillars of Trusteeship was located, named after the goddess Tutela, protector of the city.

The gallery of the main facade consists of a flat box vault. In order to recover the forces at the ends of the gallery, the two extreme boxes have stones cut diagonally and metal tie rods put in place an iron frame in the two corner boxes, not visible, in order to connect the columns and the architrave on the facade wall. This innovative constructive device allows the forces to be transferred to the side walls and thus avoids the construction of a abutment. This principle, similar to that of future reinforced concrete, is called Louis’ nail. Indeed, the exteriors of the Grand Theater are designed as a space for entertainment and walks with shops in the north and south wings, three cafes, eleven apartments and street vendors who settled between the columns. Initially, the Place de la Comédie was on the same level as the Grand Théâtre. It was in 1848 that the external staircase was created with the lowering of the level of the Place de la Comédie. 88 meters long, the peristyle of the facade is supported by twelve Corinthian columns. These are maintained by an internal metal frame. The cornice is surmounted by 12 stone statues with a height of 2.3 meters with 3 goddesses Juno, Venus, and Minerva; and the 9 muses Euterpe, Urania, Calliope, Terpsichore, Melpomene, Thalie, Polymnie, Érato,and Clio.

Bordeaux Grand theatre honor stairs

The performance hall is decorated with blue, white and gold. Initially the hall could accommodate 1,700 spectators. Today there are 1,114 places. It was the painter Jean-Baptiste-Claude Robin who was entrusted, at the end of the 18C, with the task of decorating the dome of the performance hall. The theme chosen by the artist was “Apollo and the muses approve the dedication of a temple erected by the city of Bordeaux”. The work is a triple tribute, both allegorical and realistic, to the arts, to the craftsmen who built the theatre and to the city of Bordeaux. On this last scene, the city, represented by a woman, surmounted by the figure of Bordeaux, is protected by Athena and Hermes, while at its feet are the riches of the city: maritime trade, wine, and slaves. The main staircase, in three flights, leads to a first landing serving an imposing door, framed by two caryatids Thalie and Melpomène. Then the staircase divides into two new ramps leading to the 2nd floor, towards the auditorium and the foyer.

Bordeaux Grand theatre ceilings grande salle

For the theater’s centenary in 1870, the Bordeaux sculptor Amédée Jouandot created the sculpture of Victor Louis. This one is in phonolite, a volcanic stone which gives the impression of bronze. The sculpture is presented in the hall. It should be noted that Victor Louis did not have the slender silhouette of the sculpture, he was rather stocky and with a round face. In 1804, the Grand Théâtre was assigned to the heritage of the hospices de Bordeaux, now the CHU de Bordeaux (hospital), to replace property alienated to their detriment during the French revolution. Currently, the City of Bordeaux and the CHU are bound by a long-term lease of 99 years, which brings in an annual fee of 1 euro!

During the Franco-German War of 1870, the city of Bordeaux temporarily became the capital of France, where the French government found refuge. The first elected assembly of the Third Republic, proclaimed in 1871, sat at the Grand Theater. On June 12, 1992, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh Philip Mountbatten assist Mayor Jacques Chaban-Delmas at a concert by the Bordeaux Aquitaine National Orchestra conducted by Alain Lombard.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The Official Grand Theater :Grand Theater on visitor information

The city of Bordeaux on the Grand Theater: City of Bordeaux on the Grand Theater

The tourist office of Bordeaux on the Grand TheaterTourist office of Bordeaux on the Grand Theater

And there you go now i feel better for Bordeaux, a wonderful town of a lot more than wines lol! Hope you enjoy the post and do visit the Grand Théâtre, i will its on my list to do once able to travel far.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux!”

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