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Unusual Bordeaux : Go to see Bordeaux zero point

Just like the Paris zero point located in front of Notre-Dame, there is also a zero point in Bordeaux! But do you know where to find it?

The zero point or kilometer zero is a precise point, most often located in a capital city, from which road distances were calculated. A zero point sometimes does exist in some secondary cities, but not the least, such as Bordeaux!

In France, a zero point can also be found in Lyon, Marseille or Grenoble.

Point 0 is a precise point that allowed all travellers of the past to find their way around and calculate road distances.
This landmark was created in the 19th century and at that time materialized the "exact" centre of Bordeaux. Today, Bordeaux has spread out  and the central position would now be more or less close to the city hall.

number 10 of Gambetta Square,  you will be able to see this landmark in very bad condition, you will tell me...
It has the shape of a kilometre milestone, like those found along the district roads. I let you check by yourself, you can still guess the inscription: "Origin of the boundary" (Origine du Bornage in French). This milestone reminds us that from this geographical point, all distances from the city of Bordeaux were calculated. It is only later that the distances have been calculated from the town halls.
It goes without saying that today, in the age of GPS, it has no geographical function at all!

Fortunately, the Bordeaux zero-point stone escaped the destruction planned during a building project. But because it is a piece of history in its own right, it is now classified as an additional inventory of Historical Monuments!

Bordeaux point zero milestone

And since 2008, we can also see a curious multidirectional signpost installed in front of this terminal: it gives the direction and distances separating Bordeaux from all the cities with which it is twinned.  You will learn that Bordeaux is located in:Gambetta square Bordeaux : multidirectional signs - Bordeaux twin cities

  • 257 kilometres from Bilbao
  • 553 kilometres from Madrid 
  • 1385 kilometres from Casablanca
  • 2174 kilometres from Riga
  • 2647 kilometres from St. Petersburg
  • 3597 kilometres from Ouagadougou
  • 3638 kilometres from Bamako
  • 9989 kilometres from Fukuoka


The construction of the buildings in the current Gambetta Square is due to the famous Intendant Tourny in the 18th Century who has redesigned the city. Yes, you know the one whose statue can be found in Tourny Square, at the end of the... Tourny alleys!

The square was named "Place Dauphine" on the occasion of Louis XVI 's wedding with Marie-Antoinette. The very uniform decoration of the buildings makes it one of the purest testimonies of 18th century elegance and style in Bordeaux. Yes, I know, it's my tour guide side that comes out! 
It is also this Place Dauphine that will serve as the setting for the terrible episodes of La Terreur and la guillotine in Bordeaux! (if you're interested, I do have a friend who offers a thematic visit on this dark bloody period: Bordeaux, 300 heads in 300 days). Yes, imagine that here, on what was called the National Square, 302 heads fell within 9 months! 

For a long time, Place Gambetta was what the people of Bordeaux considered to be the most chic square in the city ! When I was younger, when the evening came... the liveliest spots for evening entertainment were indeed only in 2 places; Victory Square for the rather popular and student atmosphere, and Gambetta Square for the wealthier social classes. In fact, if we ever came to Gambetta for coffee in the afternoon, we had to make sure we sat on the terrace whenever it shines, rains, freezes or snows... so we could be seen!
By 2020, Place Gambetta as the local Bordeaux people know it will change... exit the central island isolated by the road, Gambetta will become a "garden square" and will be connected to the pedestrian sector with an open green space. The traffic diversion to the west of the facades will allow pedestrians to walk halfway through the square, where the slow pace of pedestrians will be reintroduced as a priority.

The idea is to establish an urban dialogue between the 18th century facades and the picturesque landscape of an English-style garden, with a wide range of tree species and winding paths.


Gambetta square Bordeaux : city project 2020


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