by Mathias Maret

Since the 13th century, an imposing and majestic vestige, 40 meters high, has risen in the landscape of Bordeaux, classified as a historic monument since 1886. Testimony of the ancient city ramparts, taking the form of one of the oldest belfries in France, adjoining the old town hall and giving rhythm to Bordeaux life with the sound of its bells.

It was first known under the name of “Saint-Eloy” or “Saint-James” Gate, serving as a passage for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, but its architectural remains, were then used to build the current gate during the 15th century with the addition of its famous bell tower. Apart from subsequent modifications over the following centuries, it allowed magistrates to ring the bell, to give the signal for the harvest or to warn the population of a fire.

It is part of a Gothic architectural style, as illustrated by the towers and the bell. The first are circular and connected by a central building, dominated by the “golden leopard”. The fire of 1755 provided them with a cover in the shape of a pepperpot, formed by crenellations and campaniles. While in the center of the wrought iron gate, we find the city crest and the bell also called “Armande-Louise” (sixth bell on the site) which is dated 1775 and was made by the founder Turmeau, weighing almost 7,800 kg! Furthermore, two clocks adorn the north and south faces, to the north, inscribed in a stone frame, with typical Renaissance decor. To the south, an astronomical clock made by the mathematician and astronomer Paul Larroque and a master locksmith who worked out its complex workings.

 Finally, on the inside of the Big Bell, his first words were engraved: “My blows mark time, my voice calls to arms […] I have songs for all happiness, for all the dead, I have tears. »