Bordeaux Jewish Heritage Tour

Who thinks of Bordeaux think of vineyards, and it is true that Bordeaux is the "capital" of great wines. But Bordeaux is much more than that: it has been listed in June 2007 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it offers “Michelin” restaurants or simply "gourmets" ones; and the nearness of the Bay of Arcachon, the Atlantic Ocean and its protected environment makes it a privileged place for a unique southwest lifestyle.

Morning around 9:00am  meet your guide and a driver at hotel's lobby or at the pier and go to the city center.

The presence of a Jewish community is attested for several centuries in the metropolis Aquitaine. Written sources confirm the presence of a small Jewish community in Bordeaux from the start of the 6th century AD. In the middle Ages, under the English Kings, the small number of Jews in Bordeaux set up home outside the town, near the Saint- Seurin area. At the end of the 15th century, Louis XI granted privileges to foreigners wanting to settle in Bordeaux.

This one increases considerably after the promulgation of the decree of Alhambra (in March 31st, 1492) by which King Catholiques decides to expel the Jews of Spain and Portugal.

Avoiding the persecutions of the Inquisition, number of them decides to settle down beyond Pyrenees, establishing often active and prosperous communities in the southwest of France.

The Jewish community of Bordeaux remains prosperous for several centuries, supplying some big names in the domains of the literature, the arts, and the trade.  They became established then in the Jewish district (but it was not a ghetto) which keeps, in the name of some streets, the track today of this past: the Jewish street, or the door “Dijeaux”, (“of the Jews” in Occitan language).

During the creation of the central Consistory by Napoleon, a regional consistory was created in Bordeaux in 1808. On one year later, a “big” synagogue was built under its impulse on street Causserouge. Heart center of the Jewish district, this monumental building is a victim of a terrible fire during year 1873.  

The tour will visit current Synagogue (subject to appointment confirmation and security clearance), where you meet a member of local Jewish community (guide will translate since locals do not speak English). This first synagogue was ravaged by fire on June 27th, 1873. The decision was very quickly taken to build another one which was inaugurated on September 5th, 1882, the 21st day of the month of Elul5642. 

In spite of the restricted space and the narrow access road, the synagogue is one of the most monumental and largest in France.   From January 1944, it was turned into a prison. Jewish families were rounded up and locked inside before being transferred to Drancy. The interior was then devastated and all of the religious furniture was destroyed. On May 15th, 1949, the Memorial for Martyrs of the Community, victims of Nazi barbarism, was inaugurated on the western wall, facing the square. Since the beginning of the 21st century, it has undergone much repair to its roof, floor and paintings, as well as restoration of the stained glass windows and cleaning of the facade.

Around 12:00 departure from synagogue to Vineyards region of Pessac – Leognan, south of Bordeaux. 

12h30 Lunch at the French style restaurant for example,  “La Table du Lavoir” located in the Hotel Spa resort “Les Sources de Caudalie” in the midst of the vineyards (not kosher). 

2pm   Short walk or transfer drive to Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Visit of the impressive cellars and wine tasting at this Classified estate (this is shared visit with other tourists). 

Depart chateau

Approximately 3:30-4pm back to hotel or ship.

This is a private tour ad customized for each client.