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Le Miroir d’eau, Bordeaux

The world’s largest water mirror

Placemaking at its best, with no ulterior motive

Rosie Higgins

I am a relatively recent proponent of the charm of France’s regional cities which offer so much of what is great about Paris but without the traffic, price tag and bad attitude.

Bordeaux is a fantastic example of this. The old town sees elegant squares nestled amongst scurrying cobbled streets, lined with independent shops. The centre of town hosts vast imperial squares, boulevards and sprawling fountains so large children swim in them! This is a very different beast to the UK’s secondary cities!

But whilst Bordeaux offers fashionable eateries and sweet boutiques (and then of course there is also the wine...), perhaps my favourite spot is UNESCO’s contemporary World Heritage Site: Mirroir d’Eau at Place de la Bourse - the largest water mirror in the world. Entry price: nothing, instagram opportunities and memorable family moments: abundant.

Located on the wide embankment of the Garonne river, this 37,000 sq ft ‘water mirror’ is made from granite slabs. Every 15 minutes, 2 cm of water floods and fogs over the space, much to the delight of captive children (and many adults) who get lost in the mist and run, splash or even scoot through the cooling vapour.

At night, the mirror quality really comes into its own reflecting the stunning 18th Century Palais de la Bourse which overlooks it. It will come as no surprise that this s one of the most photographed parts of Bordeaux.

This site is still a huge draw for visitors, especially families, who may otherwise not visit this fairly quiet part of town. With my property cap on I am surprised no entrepreneurial Bordelais have not thought to capitalise on the crowds which flock here. There huge scope for a profitable ice cream van or a pop-up bar!

But perhaps that is not what is important here and actually, this is placemaking at its best, with no ulterior motive.