Located in the middle of the city lies the Grosse Cloche, which is one of the oldest belfries in all of France. This historic site is considered to be such an important part of the city's identity that it is depicted on the city's coat of arms. The well-known landmark is an annex of the Saint-Eloi Church, built in the 15th century and tucked away in a side street. The bell was made in 1775, and its weight is sure to be 8.6 tons.
In addition to its use as a jail, the doorway that houses the bell previously served as a defensive stronghold. Young individuals who behaved inappropriately were taken there and locked behind a door that was ten centimeters thick and had massive bolts. This initiation rite can accommodate guests at any time. A tour guide will take you into the eerie dungeons that are still inhabited by the ghosts of persons who disobeyed the curfew or violated the rules of public order.
How to explore Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux?
- Check the time on the elegant clock on the tower or listen to the bell rings six times a year for key celebrations such as New Year's Day, Bastille Day, VE Day, and Remembrance Day, in addition to the first Sunday of every month at noon.
- Take a moment to admire the view from underneath the massive arches. Take note of the way in which two conical spires flank a smaller tower that has a gilded lion perched on top of it. This lion is meant to symbolize the historical occupation of Bordeaux by the British.
- You can adjust the time on your watch using one of the clocks that are located on either side of the bell tower. The gilded timepiece has a dial in the shape of a half-circle on the side that faces south. This dial displays the solar time. An equally elaborate clock depicting the lunar cycle can be found on the northern side.
- Climb the tower to get a better look at the bell from up close. An inscription that reads, 'I ring for the hours and my voice is a summon to arms, I sing for happy occasions and weep for the dead,' is inscribed all the way around the edge of the bell instrument that is known as Armande-Louise.