A Visit to Saint-Seurin

Today is World Heritage Day and here in Bordeaux there are lots of fascinating places to visit.

I chose to go to a square that I have always liked the look of from the bus as it hurtles past - La Place des Martyrs de la Resistance. You can probably work out the meaning of that.

It is just beside the enormous church of Saint-Seurin, which is a Minor Basilica. (You can look that up in Wikipedia if you want.) The present building dates back to the 11th century, though it has been greatly altered with the passage of time.

Seurin (Severinus) was the fourth pastor of Bordeaux (well, they said bishop) and he is buried in the sarcophagus under the big table (well, they said high altar).

After looking round the huge church I went down into the crypt, which normally costs 3€ to visit, but today was free. Centuries ago it was at street level but now is a basement and it contains stone coffins and large jars used as coffins for children. The burials date back to the 4th century and it was a Christian cemetery.

It was strange to think of the gospel arriving in Bordeaux very quickly, and of there being an established and large Christian burial place around this ancient church at the time of Constantine, before the fall of Rome, before Augustine, Christians lived in this Gaulish city.

Bordeaux is a funny place. One of the young ladies who was working at the crypt said that Bordeaux was unusual in that it invited the Romans to come and occupy, develop and protect the city - a bit like Morocco with France or Botswana with Britain. Bordeaux was not conquered by the Romans. It invited them in.

Just opposite the entrance to the crypt there was a HUGE QUEUE to visit the Maison Frugès. It is a Bordeaux town house (hôtel) redecorated in Art Déco style in the 1920s by Frugès, the sugar magnate who also got Le Corbusier to build an estate of houses here in Pessac. It's a private house, so it's not normally open to the public but today it was for heritage weekend.

After my visit a quick trip to the supermarket for provisions for tomorrow evening's meal after the Service, then home.


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