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Grosse Cloche

One of the oldest belfries in France, this tower was a traditional gateway to the city and once functioned as a prison.

The Grosse Cloche, a bell tower in the heart of Bordeaux, is a symbol of the city. This landmark is so iconic, in fact, that it is featured on the city's coat of arms. The famous monument is an extension of the Église Saint-Éloi, a 15th-century church hidden in an alley. Check the time on the tower's ornate clock or listen to the bells ring out on New Year's Day.

The Porte Saint-Éloi gate was built in the 13th century to allow entry into the center of the city. The belfry was added in the 15th century, although in 1548, the bell was confiscated by an irate king. The current bell was cast in 1775. Today it rings on the first Sunday of every month and an additional six times a year to mark major events.

Stand beneath the great archway and look up. Notice how two conical spires flank a smaller tower, on top of which stands a golden lion. This lion represents Britain's historical occupation of Bordeaux. Set your watch by one of the clocks that sits on either side of the belfry. On the south side, the gilded timepiece features a semicircular dial that notes the solar time. On the north side, an equally decorative clock marks the lunar cycle.

Climb the tower for a close-up view of the bell. The 8.6-ton (7.8-metric-ton) instrument, known as Armande-Louise, has an inscription around its edge that translates as “I ring for the hours and my voice is a call to arms, I sing for happy events and weep for the dead.”

Explore the interior of the towers, which were once used as a prison for the city's petty offenders, such as those who broke curfew. The adjoining church is also open to the public.

Take the bus to the Ste. Catherine stop to reach the Grosse Cloche or walk for 5 minutes from the Aquitaine Museum. Visit on the first Sunday of the month or on one of six major holidays in the year, such as Bastille Day or Remembrance Day, to hear Armande-Louise ringing at 11 a.m.


Guide to Exploring around Grosse Cloche


Best Lodging Options Near Grosse Cloche

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Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel $340
Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel

Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel

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    5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Bordeaux Golden Triangle, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux and Place des Quinconces. Pey Berland Tower and Cathedrale St. Andre are also within 10 minutes. Grand Theatre Tram Station is only a 2-minute walk and Quinconces Tram Station is 4 minutes.

    Golden Tulip Bordeaux - Euratlantique $85
    Golden Tulip Bordeaux - Euratlantique

    Golden Tulip Bordeaux - Euratlantique

    13 Rue des Gamins - Bordeaux, Bordeaux, Gironde
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Bordeaux Sud, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Sacre Coeur Church, Rue Sainte-Catherine, and Place de la Bourse. Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux is 2.1 mi (3.4 km) away. Belcier Tram Station and Carle Vernet Tram Station are within a 5-minute walk.

      Hilton Garden Inn Bordeaux Centre
      Hilton Garden Inn Bordeaux Centre

      Hilton Garden Inn Bordeaux Centre

      17 Allée de Rio, Bordeaux, Gironde
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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        All Suites Appart Hotel Bordeaux Marne $50
        All Suites Appart Hotel Bordeaux Marne

        All Suites Appart Hotel Bordeaux Marne

        21 cours Barbey, Bordeaux
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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          Hôtel Cardinal $163
          Hôtel Cardinal

          Hôtel Cardinal

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            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Bordeaux City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Pey Berland Tower and Rue Sainte-Catherine. Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux and Place de la Victoire are also within 15 minutes. Palais de Justice Tram Station and City Hall are within a 5-minute walk.

            Yndo Hotel $190
            Yndo Hotel

            Yndo Hotel

            108 rue Abbe de l'Epee, Bordeaux, Gironde
               
              5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Bordeaux City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Place Gambetta, Rue Sainte-Catherine, and Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux. Place de la Bourse and The City of Wine are also within 3 mi (5 km). Fondaudège-Muséum Tram Station is 6 minutes by foot and Gambetta Tram Station is 10 minutes.

              Mama Shelter Bordeaux $117
              Mama Shelter Bordeaux

              Mama Shelter Bordeaux

              19 Rue Poquelin Molière, Bordeaux
                 
                2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Bordeaux City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux, Aquitaine Museum, and Musee des Beaux-Arts. Place de la Bourse and Contemporary Art Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km). Gambetta Tram Station and City Hall are within a 5-minute walk.

                Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre $89
                Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre

                Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre

                27 rue du Parlement Sainte Catherine, Bordeaux, Gironde
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Bordeaux City Centre, this hotel is steps from Parliament Square and Rue Sainte-Catherine. Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux and Place de la Bourse are also within 5 minutes. Grand Theatre Tram Station and Sainte-Catherine Tram Station are within a 5-minute walk.