Bordeaux has a lot of amazing landmarks that are worth to visit at least once. The big bell or “Grosse Cloche”, in French, represents one of the important and most beautiful historical places in the city.
The “Grosse cloche” is one of the few remaining gates from when Bordeaux used to be a fortified city before the 18th century. It was used to defend the city and also served as a prison. The bell weights 8 tons and used to ring whenever there is a fire or a storm coming.
A little bit of history
Bordeaux used to be a fortified city in the past. It had walls and gates surrounding it from all sides.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the mayor of Bordeaux asked king Luis 15 that the walls be demolished so that the whole world sees Bordeaux as a beautiful and powerful city.
His request was accepted and the walls were demolished. Soon Bordeaux became an important port in the region. The “Grosse Cloche” is one out of 5 other gates that are still present in the city, and that remind us of that period where Bordeaux used to be surrounded by walls.
Story of the two clocks
If you look close enough, you will see that there are two clocks, one above the other, on this gate. What is the reason for that?
Nowadays, many cities in Europe have the same time. If you are in Paris, Bordeaux, or Rome… time is the same, even though the sun is not in the same position. This is because a new time system was implemented throughout Europe. The purpose was to unify ‘time’ in all these countries and make it easier to manage cross country train schedules.
Since there are people who are used to the old system, it was decided to put 2 clocks, one that following the new time system and another the old one. This way, everyone will always know what time is.
It is possible to visit the inside of the ‘Grosse cloche‘. A ticket costs 5 euros and you will get a guide that will show you and explain to you all the interior of this monument.
I highly recommend visiting at night as it is stunning when it is lit! A perfect spot for an Instagram picture!
Check out more about my one year experience in Bordeaux by clicking here!