The 66-metre-high tower was completed in 1500, 60 years after construction began under the authority of Pey Berland, the archbishop of Bordeaux (who has already been featured on Invisible Bordeaux). As the ground is notoriously unstable in Bordeaux, the tower was built some 20 metres from the cathedral itself, which also meant the main edifice would not be affected by the vibrations of the bells.
Ironically though, given its original vocation, for many years the bell tower didn’t actually contain any bells! Instead, Saint-André made use of bells located within the cathedral itself… while the tower was divided into dwellings before becoming a factory producing shotgun pellets! Unbelievably, it wasn’t until around 1851 and the arrival of Cardinal Donnet (also making a repeat appearance on the blog) that four bells were installed in the tower. Twelve years later, the Madonna and child statue (Notre Dame d'Aquitaine) was added to the spire; it is facing in the direction of Saint-Raphaël in the Médoc, the birthplace of Pey Berland. Gold leaf was applied to the copper-plated statue in 2002.
|The view through the wooden door which is usually closed, and peering down between the floorboards back to the ground level ceiling. Bottom right: Ferdinand-André II.|
|The bell-ringing mechanics, Marguerite (top right) and Clémence (bottom left), and looking back down at Marie on the lower level.|
|Some of the sights to take in: Cathédrale Saint-André, Rue du Loup, two line B trams and the view over to Saint-Michel and the Grosse Cloche.|
- Find it: Place Pey-Berland, Bordeaux (open morning and afternoons every day, closed Mondays between October and May. Admission costs 5 euros).
- Official Centre des Monuments Nationaux page about Pey-Berland tower: http://pey-berland.monuments-nationaux.fr
- Big thanks to Antoine for his warm welcome and informative guided tour. You can read his take on subjects ranging from public transport infrastructure to media, logos and sport on the most excellent MystickTroy’s Blogpaper. And take time out to view MystickTroy’s guided tour of Place Pey Berland in this Youtube clip: