Anson: A ghost tour of Bordeaux


This time last year, I took my daughters on a ghostly walking tour of Bordeaux for Halloween. We went past cobbled squares where 14th century witches were burnt at the stake, a haunted playground on the site of a former convent, and we bore witness a whole pile of French Revolution memories, from the site of the gallows on today’s Place Gambetta to the last resting place of the 289 people who were guillotined here between 1789 and 1794, held in the Basilica of Saint Seurin.

Our guide didn’t mention viticultural ghosts, but there would be plenty to choose from if he had done so. Any region where winemaking stretches back for 2,000 years can hardly escape them.

To greet the most significant ghost, the grandfather in many ways of Bordeaux wine, we should walk to the Bordeaux Opera House on Place de la Comédie. This was the site of a Roman temple (the modern-day Opera House was built to mirror it, and original drawings can be found in the Musée d’Aquitaine) just outside of the city walls that started at the top of the pedestrianised rue Saint Catherine.

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