In Bordeaux, the bar flows into the Garonne: "They change classic evenings"

In Bordeaux, the bar flows into the Garonne: "They change classic evenings"

That evening, 140 people were enjoying the sunset over the Garonne while partying aboard the Marco Polo. (©Nathan Tacchi)

Why stay closed va traditional bar when we can dance on the Garonnewith a panoramic view of the monuments Bordeaux ?

On Wednesday, September 21, 2022, the weather conditions were ideal: at the beginning of the evening the sky was clear, the brightness was perfect and the temperature was pleasant.

On Marco Polo, the people of Bordeaux decided to empty their minds differently. “It’s a change from the classic evenings you can do,” says Marine, 20, ready to get on board.

Evenings full to bursting

The meeting is for customers at 19:00 at the honorary pontoon on the Richelieu embankment opposite the eco-citizen house. The rays of the setting sun caress the hull of the red and white boat. The number of seats is limited to 140 and can be purchased in advance.

It is better to book a few days in advance. “We will be full until the end of the season,” explains Frank Jouanni, owner and manager of the 62-year-old boat. Its follow-up work has been completed throughout the summer and will end at the end of October and start again in May 2023.

“Not registered? I will ask you to wait until 19:30 to see if we still have room. But I don’t want to give you false hope,” a crew member announces to the unbooked pair at the ship’s entrance. The fateful hour of departure is approaching. The last customers are going up.

Young, active, “old”…

19:30 The roar of the engines announces the departure. Everyone with a glass in hand, wine or beer, sunglasses on their noses, passengers, mostly students, young professionals and managers of the evening, start dancing to the music. The return is scheduled for 21:30.

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A two-hour river cruise during which the crowds will discover the city from a different angle: the Place de la Bourse, the waterfront, the Cité du Vin, the banks behind the Aquitaine bridge, the industrial port…

There are various profiles on this post-war ship. As the manager says: “We are neither a young nor an old ship. “That’s what’s good about it. The clientele ranges from 18 to 80! “, explains Gaspard, a waiter on board for two years.

An advantage that will seduce these generations: a mixture of tradition, hospitality and modernity. Traditional for its interior decor – Bordeaux photos from the interwar period, 1950s and 1960s-style lounges on the lower deck… – and modern for its trendy guint side on the upper deck with a DJ dining table, rainbow LEDs and a good sound system. Two rooms, two atmospheres.

Entrance fee 18 euros

Tonight it’s the fashionable Cupid collective on deck. Six young DJs follow each other and styles too. Deep house, electro house, bass house… “Mixing on a boat? It is excellent. There is no better frame. You don’t get that every day,” says Sarah, aka Saari, one of the evening’s disc jockeys. And he’s right, because Marco Polo is the only one of its kind in Bordeaux.

For 18 euros, customers can enjoy a drink and a mixed board. “A bit expensive” for students, says Lorette, a young dancer at the Bordeaux Conservatoire. “But we know why we paid,” her friend Alice replies. The sound and environment are amazing. »

Old German pavilion

For this evening and this ship, Frank Jouanna. It was he who went to Germany north of Berlin for this ship in 2013. Why did you go so far? The ships in Bordeaux were not “sexy” enough for the captain. After restoring her, he set about privatizing the ship for seminaries and individuals.

But it was only after the Covid crisis that he embarked on this afterwork format with two outings a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). “We felt that people needed to party. »

In the evening, this former decathlete and navigator ensures that the party runs smoothly. “I check that there are no problems, glasses are lying around, people are sitting or climbing on the railings, that the music is not too loud. In short, everything is going well. This bar, like no other, has security patrolling all the time.

The drunk throws him off the ship

Compared to a bistro on the mainland, it is impossible to just drive people out of the business. Early in the evening, the crew had to turn around and return to the wharf to shoot a man who was visibly heavily intoxicated. Which annoys some customers, but everyone needs to be very careful. Worst risk: falling into water.

It is finally 21:45 when the ship is anchored on the left bank. As the evening draws to a close, a few customers come in, although the braver ones can stay dancing until 11pm. A little earlier than traditional dance bars. Phew, no one fell into the water tonight. “We assure you that this has never happened before! the boss smiles.

Author: Nathan Tacchi

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