Although it was technically built outside the city walls in medieval times, Place Gambetta is now the bustling center of Bordeaux, both figuratively and literally (the square is, technically, the kilometer zero milestone of Bordeaux, from which all distances are calculated).
Place Gambetta is also home to one of the most significant architectural ensembles of the city. Ordered by city administrator Louis-Urbain Aubert in 1746 as part of his embellishment program, the square features splendidly harmonious facades in the Louis XV style designed by Nicolas Portier. It is mainly characterized by its mansard roofs, elegant houses and arched ground floors that conceal très chic shopping arcades. The square was initially named Place Dauphin to commemorate the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, but in light of the French Revolution, it naturally changed its name to Place Nationale. It took the name Place Gambetta in 1883 after politician Léon Gambetta, home secretary of France, who temporarily established the III Republic government in Bordeaux during the Prussian siege of Paris.
Other than being an important hub for Bordeaux’s mass transit and an architectural gem, Place Gambetta is also a luxuriant garden that acts as the perfect break for shoppers, locals and tourists alike. Lavish landscaping and peaceful fountains make for an appealing pause in the shade.
Place Gambetta is located just west of the historic center of Bordeaux, right by the old Porte Dijeaux. It is accessible on foot, by tram via Route B (stop Gambetta) or by car. The nearest parking lot is Parking Gambetta on rue des Commandots de France. Daytime rates (from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.) are €2.40 per hour and the nighttime (between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.) flat rate is €3.50.