In the first part of our Bordeaux tour, we visited the best sights in the Golden Triangle. Continuing with my Guide to the Main tourist attractions in Bordeaux – here are another top five Tourist sites in Bordeaux you must see.
6. Porte Cailhau – Place du Palais, 33000 Bordeaux
If you follow the river down to your right, you will discover a beautiful gate, known as Port Cailhau. Once, the main entrance to the Place du Palais square, this gate led to Palais de l’Ombrière. It was used as a residence for the dukes of Aquitaine as well as a Parliament during the 15th century.
When the original door stood here, the wharves did not exist. The river was in direct contact with the city ramparts, divided only by a small; muddy part of the land. Small boats were used to load and unload commodities through the gate from the ships ported there. The current door was erected between 1493 and 1495, closer to the Garonne.
7. La Porte Saint-Éloi and La Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux – Rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux
Since we are on the subject of gates and such let’s continue to the next one. It was once (now too) yet another proud keeper of our beautiful city. After a brisk walk from Porte Cailhau, you will find yourself in front of another medieval marvel that survived in Bordeaux. Dare I say even more stunning, this gate was part of the Saint-Éloi church during the 13th century and a gateway from the countryside towards the city and vice versa.
During the 15th century, a belfry was added to the ancient Porte Saint-Eloy. The locals, know it as La Grosse Cloche – The Big Bell. Suddenly it became a huge part of Bordeaux’s history. It is even a part of the city’s coat of arms. Once the bell was used to announce the beginning of the grape harvest or to signal a fire. Bordeaux’s citizens were so attached to their Big Bell that the king of France – Henry II, used it as a ransom when the locals decided to revolt in 1548. He took the bell and returned it a couple of years later – in 1561, not cool Henry. The tower is open from 1 pm to 7 pm during the summer.
8. La Basilique Saint-Michel de Bordeaux – Place meynard, Bordeaux (33000)
Nestled on a little square, surrounded by exotic shops, is the church that can be described only as stunning and gothic beauty. Build between the 14th and the 16th century it’s considered to be the main place of worship for Catholics alongside the Saint Andre Cathedral. The bell tower, separated from the main building is considered the highest in South France with its 114m. In 1791, catacombs were discovered under the structure, hiding a sinister secret (more about it soon !)… If you are a lover of architecture and especially the flamboyant Gothic style, this Basilica is a must for you. The stained glasses, that exists since the 16th, 19th, and 20th centuries give it a magical look.
9. Tour Pey-Berland & Cathédrale Saint-André – Place Pey Berland, 33000 Bordeaux
Next, on my list of must-see places in Bordeaux would be the heart of the city – La cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux. If you are coming to Bordeaux from the airport, this is probably the first view of the treasures this city has to offer. The cathedral is simply extraordinary. Constructed in the unmistakable Gothic style, this cathedral has seen a lot – especially when it comes to royal marriages (the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Louis VII, king of the Franks, and the marriage of Anne of Austria and Louis XIII.) Just like Saint Michel’s Basilica, the Saint-Andre Cathedral’s bell tower is separate from the main building (it has to do with the fact that the land around Bordeaux was at some point a swamp). Afraid that the vibrations of the bell will damage the cathedral, the tower was built close to it instead of on top of the main construction.
The Tower of Pey-Berland was erected between 1440 to 1500 and is named after Archbishop Pey Berland. The statue of the Virgin on the top is turned in the direction of a village called Saint Raphael. The town the archbishop originated from. If you want to see a magnificent view of the town – climb the 233 steps to the top of the tower. It is worth it.
10. La place Gambetta and La Porte Dijeaux – 90 Rue de la Porte Dijeaux, 33000 Bordeaux
On the final stop around Bordeaux attractions is one of the main city squares– Gambetta. Designed by the architecture André Portier, it is a local’s favorite and a place for meeting and relaxation.
It is not uncommon for people to have a quick lunch there during the warmer days. There is a garden in the center with a little pond. Many food shops surround it too if you are in a hurry for a snack. The square also has a direct connection to Rue Saint Catharine – the biggest shopping street in the city. Furthermore, the Mériadeck shopping center is just a 5-minute walk away.
Even though it is a beloved place now, between 1793 and 1794, it was the scene of about 250 executions. As a gateway to the Gambetta square, you can use another one of the famous Bordeaux gates – Porte Dijeaux. There is a theory that the name is inspired by Jupiter’s temple that stood there in the Gallo-Roman period. The current monuments were built between 1748 and 1753.
I hope you enjoyed my Guide to the top Tourist sites in Bordeaux you must see. Do not forget to read Part I for more cool destinations around the city.