Fun all day long, but the real magic begins in the evening when the lights come on…
Le Miroir d’eau – the Bordeaux Water Mirror – is the largest in the world, with 3,450 m² of granite slabs. The spectacular mirror effect, reflecting the 18th century façade of the Place de la Bourse, is followed by a fog effect thanks to a cloud of mist rising more than two meters. The Water Mirror is the realization of fountain expert Jean Max Llorca, whom teamed up with architect Pierre Gagnet and landscaper Michel Corajoud, to design this original and popular public space between the Garonne and Place de la Bourse and the historic centre of Bordeaux.
A Technical Feat Inspired By Venice
Venice’s San Marco Square, naturally flooded with every rise of the winter tides, is said to have inspired Jean Max Llorca in the realization of the water mirror in Bordeaux.
This play of aquatic effects is the result of a clever and discreet mechanical system, hidden under the granite slabs. The water, stored in an 800 m3 underground tank, rises to the surface in the form of a thin film of 2 cm. Thanks to pumps and around hundred small channels, the water spreads out on the 130 m long and 42 m wide mirror. Several solenoid valves allow the water to flow back into the pool, after having been treated, while 900 injectors generate a refreshing mist on the big slate. The water mirror works in cycles, programmed by computer: 15 minutes of mirror effect, followed by a 5 minutes pause, then 5 minutes of fog.
Le Miroir d’eau has greatly benefited from its location. Long occupied by warehouses, depots and parking, the site sits on a former port warehouse. Wine and food were stocked there until the 1980s. The underground shed has been converted to create the reservoir and to house the machinery of the water mirror, significantly reducing the construction costs.
An Inimitable Water Theater And Architectural Piece
This inimitable piece of contemporary urban art is part of a unique heritage setting: Place de la Bourse and the docks. 18th century classical architecture, whose blonde stone and nocturnal illuminations are reflected on the large mirror. It has served as a model of inspiration to other cities such as Paris, Nantes, Nice, Montpellier or Quebec.
Part of a major program of renovations of the Garonne wharves, with the garden of lights, the sports park of Saint Michel and the skate park – the Miroir d’eau conveys an image of a vibrant city in motion.
A must-see spot in Bordeaux, the Miroir d’eau is now a place of relaxation for all, and the favourite playground for children, acrobats and dancers, as well as a paradise for photographers from around the world.
The mechanism is interrupted during the winter months (Jan-Mars) to prevent freezing and blocking of the system.
All photos by Asgeir Pedersen, Spots France.