Do you like shopping? If yes, then the Rue Sainte-Catherine pedestrians only street is for made for you. A true gold mine for the shopaholic, it is brimfull of boutiques of all kinds but it will probably scare away the timid or the agoraphobes. Nestled in the heart of Bordeaux, stretching between Place de la Comédie and Place de la Victoire, it is the longest shopping street in Europe with its 1,250 km and more than 60,000 visitors per day. So yes, if you think that is too much of a crowd, don’t go there on a Saturdays, sales days or during the holiday seasons.
Text by Mélodie Vayssieres
Long street long history
Long ago, some 2000 years roughly speaking, Bordeaux was founded by the Roman Empire under the name of Burdigala. At that time, Rue Sainte-Catherine was already an essential street in the city since it represented the cardo, a north-south axis allowing the grid of a Roman settlement to be established. The intersection of two axes defined the center of the city. The first axis going from east to west, called the decumanus, corresponds to the current Rue Saint-Rémi and the second axis going from north to south being Rue Sainte-Catherine.
It was not until 1977 that Rue Sainte-Catherine became a pedestrian street. For a long time, it hosted shops of its own with names that made the city unique and that were specific to the city of Bordeaux, such as Dewatcher, Grand Quartier, Yolba, Reporter Photo, but which have now disappeared, just like the trees bordering it. The street now has more than 230 businesses lining it. In addition to the few small independent shops that have resisted the pressure from the big brands, you will find the usual ones like Mango, Zara, Courir and Stradivarius.
Look up !
Yes Rue Sainte-Catherine is full of shops, but that is not its only asset. Indeed, if you go there, look up to discover architectural details that even Bordeaux residents do not always notice. You will discover ornate buildings and sculptures reminiscent of Bordeaux type architecture. If you pass in front of the Galeries Lafayette, admire the sumptuous building that houses them. Designed by architect Ruben Dacosta in 1900, this neo-baroque building with its rounded corners topped with domes will surely impress you. Worth noticing are the original decoration of the façade as well as the magnificent clock and the women carved in stone.
So don’t hesitate, Rue Sainte-Catherine is waiting for you!