Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer in the City


The Place de la Bourse, or Stock Exchange, reflected in the Mirror

For my next blog post I had intended to write Part 2 of Abbey Road: The Architecture of Fontenay.  But that will have to wait, because after countless weeks of cold, rainy weather, summer has finally come to Bordeaux. The city has taken to the streets in droves.  Cafes are brimming with young people drinking coffee or beer while eyeing the passers-by. The Jardin Public is full of kids chasing balls and old folks walking dogs or doing tai chi (including me!). But when the sun is shining, my favorite place in Bordeaux is the Mirror.


I think that Bordeaux was the first French city to have a water feature like this, but several others have followed suit. And it’s no wonder because this is as close as you get to an urban water park, minus the rides. Bordeaux's Mirror is the biggest in the world, measuring 420 feet by 135 feet, or roughly 4/5 the size of an American football field. Constructed in the form of a shallow basin, it holds about two centimeters (less than an inch) of water, and when full it's a great wading pool. Every fifteen minutes or so all of the water drains into underground storage tanks where it is treated. When wet, the enormous slate-like surface reflects not only clouds and people, but all of the beautiful buildings that surround the Mirror as well. After a short pause, cool mist streams up through 900 injectors creating a mysterious, foggy playground.



The whole thing is utterly magical.  Kids happily strip naked to frolic in the shallow water; others ride bicycles and skateboards through the mist. Birds and babies splash happily, while tourists snap pictures.





Words really can’t describe just how much fun can be had in an inch of water. So I'll just leave you with a few more pictures instead.