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St. Michael Basilica

A freestanding bell tower with a ghoulish history is what draws most people to this landmark, but the large Gothic church here is equally impressive.

St. Michael Basilica, one of the landmarks on the Saint Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage, is easy to see wherever you are in Bordeaux. Its huge spire stands tall apart from the church. Spot the tower on the skyline and head toward it to visit one of the most iconic sights in Bordeaux. Join local worshippers and pilgrims in services at the adjoining church.

The size and design of this intricately detailed tower are typical of the Gothic excess of the late 15th century when it was built. In the late 18th century, several mummies were put on display in the bell tower's crypt and remained there for about 200 years.

Descend into the crypt and discover the stories behind the ancient mummies. The cadavers, discovered at a nearby cemetery, were on display throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and were visited by writers such as Hugo and Flaubert. They were finally removed in 1990. Today, learn about the mummy exhibition through presentations in the crypt.

Climb the 374-foot (114-meter) tower for views of Bordeaux's old town. The church faces Pont de Pierre, an elegant 19th-century bridge spanning the Garonne River. Look westward for the Grosse Cloche, another famous belfry, which is featured on the city's coat of arms.

Step into the church to admire the vast interior and furnishings. The pulpit is particularly notable for its combination of mahogany and marble, which represents St. Michael slaying the dragon. Sit in the pews and watch as light pours in from the stained-glass rose windows. Mass is held in the church on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

After exploring the basilica, continue your religious explorations at Cathédrale Saint André, which is about 20 minutes away on foot. The grand cathedral also features a freestanding bell tower, Tour Pey-Berland, and is included on the pilgrimage route.

Ride one of the regular trams to the Saint-Michel stop, which is about 2 minutes away from St. Michael Basilica on foot. The bell tower is open every day during tourist season.


Guide to Exploring St. Michael Basilica


Map

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Hilton Garden Inn Bordeaux Centre £81
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        Hotel ibis Bordeaux Centre Gare Saint Jean Euratlantique £73
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            Hotel Konti by HappyCulture £102
            Hotel Konti by HappyCulture

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              ibis Bordeaux Centre Gare Saint Jean
              ibis Bordeaux Centre Gare Saint Jean

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                ibis budget Bordeaux Centre Gare Saint Jean
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