Start : 1, Place Jean Jaurès
L'Hostaley deu capet roge
The Hôtel du Chapeau Rouge – 1 Place Jean Jaurès
For over two hundred years, this site marked the first point of contact for foreign travellers arriving in Bordeaux. They would arrive at a renowned inn that once stood here called the Chapeau Rouge [red hat], outside which hung a sign showing a cardinal’s hat and which also served as a relay point for post horses. Although we do not know exactly when it was opened, the Chapeau Rouge, or Hostaley deu capet roge, is mentioned in a text dating back to 9 October 1464, in other words one year after the French conquest of Bordeaux. The hotel remained an essential port of call through to 1676. It gave its name to the street in the 16th century.
In 1511, its owner, Aymeric de Fayolle, built a real-tennis court to make it more comfortable, then a chapel. In 1530, board and lodging cost 24 crowns per day. According to Father Baurein, there was a trunk at the inn for receiving alms not only for the poor, but also for foreigners stripped bare by thieves.
Europe’s monarchs passed through here to enter the city. And it is here, at the Chapeau Rouge, that the inhabitants of Bordeaux gathered to greet Holy Roman Emperor Charles V on 1 December 1539. It is also here, in exactly the same place, twenty years later almost to the day, that they welcomed the wife of his son Philip II – Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of Henry II of France and already Queen of Spain through her marriage celebrated by proxy on 22 June of the same year – as she marched towards Spain. Etiquette prevented the King of Spain from going to her, demanding that she be brought to him. On 6 December 1559, Elisabeth of Valois made her grand entry into Bordeaux through the “Porte du Chapeau Rouge” [red hat gate], on which had been inscribed a sixain in celebration of the new sovereign of the Netherlands and Spain: her “unparalleled beauty, her glory and her happiness,” whose “very great merit [...] could embellish two nations at once: the Spanish and that of the French.”
After a few days in Bordeaux, in the words of Jean de Gaufreteau, she was “taken to the French border, where she was delivered to the King of Spain’s envoys.” The young queen, soon to be called Isabelle de la paix [Isabelle of peace] by her subjects, would go on to meet her husband for the first time a few weeks later, in Guadalajara.
John of Austria arrived at the Chapeau Rouge one hundred years later, in 1659. And ten years later, on 29 September 1669, architect Claude Perrault stayed at the inn during its last years in the company of his brother: “We lodged,” he said, “at the Chapeau Rouge, the city’s most famous inn. It has given its name to the street in which it is situated, surely the most beautiful of all Bordeaux, since it is compared to Rue Saint-Antoine. And, indeed, it is almost as wide. It has two gutters and is lined with many beautiful houses.”
However, seven years later, in July 1676, the inn was demolished. It was one of a block of houses whose demolition had been ordered to accommodate the extension of Château Trompette. Over three hundred houses located north of Rue du Chapeau Rouge were razed to the ground.
After this, several establishments attempted to adopt the name in various eras and several different places in the city, without ever managing to make such a famous name for itself as did the inn built in the Middle Ages, which enjoyed two centuries of continuous success.