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Great show : Bassins de Lumières, Submarine Base, Bordeaux

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

If the sun stops shining for a day, we suggest you take in one of the most breathtaking exhibitions in Bordeaux that will be a delight for all the family. We went to the first show between lockdowns in 2020. I had originally bought the tickets for Phil for Valentine’s day but we had to wait a couple of months before we could go. It was a fabulous huge light & music show on Klimt, with a brief introduction to Klee.

Why so amazing : firstly, the immensity and power of the place (Bordeaux’s submarine base, see below) and the extraordinary skill of the show’s creators in using all elements of the base to project slowmoving displays of the artists’ works.

The Klimt exhibition will finish in early 2021. But the new year brings a new show from 5th Feb 2021 to 2nd Jan 2022: “Monet, Renoir … Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean”

The exhibition will immerse visitors in the masterpieces of 20 artists: Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Signac, Derain, Vlaminck, Dufy, and Chagall, amongst others. In the 1880s, the Mediterranean attracted them and they abandoned Paris & the north, to flock to the southern shores, between Collioure and Saint-Tropez. Here they developed a new approach to the representation of light and colour. Images of more than 500 works, from collections around the world, will fill the Bassins de Lumières with their bright colours.

Tickets can be bought in advance at or you can just go and wait on the day. Probably the best value show in town at 40€ for a family (2 adults + 2 children from 5-25 years old)!

The construction of the submarine base

Bordeaux, occupied at the end of June 1940, was a strategic base for the German occupying forces. The city’s location near the Atlantic Ocean, its port facilities, and its distance from the British enemy made it a very attractive choice. After 19 months of work, the submarine base was inaugurated in 1943. It was a colossal construction project creating 11 submarine pens (4 wet docks & 7 dry docks) for 15 U-boats (large submarines). These U-boats carried out attack missions in the Atlantic Ocean, near the American coast, and resupply missions in the Indian Ocean.

Active for just over a year during the Occupation, Bordeaux’s submarine base still evokes the painful memories of the darkest hours of the Port de la Lune (name for Bordeaux’s moon shaped port). However, since the 1960s, the bunker has attracted artists, filmmakers and musicians, who have been fascinated by the site’s atmosphere.

Since 2018, the company, Culturespaces, has implemented a major project to enhance and develop the four wet basins, starting with a large restoration project and the installation of the technical equipment for their astonishing shows.

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