Visible from basically everywhere in Bordeaux, the Basilique Saint-Michel is also very beautiful and offers the best panoramic view from its belfry.
The basilica was built between the 14th and 16th century in Gothic "flamboyant" style. It is one of southern France's largest churches and measures some 75m in length. While interesting from the inside, I found it to be rather gloomy as well and didn't spend very much time in there.
More interesting was the "flèche" (=arrow), the church's 114m high belfry, which suffered severe damage during an earthquake in 1759 and during a hurricane in 1768 so that it had to be rebuilt in the late 19th century. Like the belfry of Bordeaux's Cathédrale Saint-André, it is not part of the actual building, but stands separated a few metres away from it. For an entry fee of 4.50 Euros you can ascend the narrow spiral staircase and, having reached the top, will be rewarded with the best view over Bordeaux. Surrounding the church are the thousands of roofs of the old quarter of Bordeaux. They seem to make up one uninterrupted area of houses, but there is of course the labyrinth of alleys. Only a stone's throw away is the Garonne, lined by the quais of Bordeaux with the magnificent Miroir d'Eau. In the distance, you can see the wine regions of Aquitaine.
Bordeaux has many Churches of which the Largest is the Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux. However, the most famous church you can able to see the grandeur from a distance is the Basilique Saint Michel, which is located along Place Meynard, near the Garonne River of which you can have panoramic views of the Magnificent tower and Basilical if along the Garonne River or along the east enbankment of the Garonne River. The Basilique Saint Michel was built in the 14th century and finished in the 16th century in late gothic design and has a large cross shaped knave and several side chapels of which the altar represents Saint Michael slaying the dragon. It is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site of Churches in Bordeaux. The Belfry Tower is 114 meters long and is also open to the public at certain hours.
The Basilica is open from:
Monday, Saturday from 10:00 to 12:30 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Admission is free
Tower Admission is 3 euros per person.
Phone: +33 5 56 94 30 50
In the South side of the central town area is a stunning Gothic Basillica and huge separate belfry almost 400 feet tall. Apparently you can go to the top of the belfry, however, when I was there the base of the bellfry had been taken over by homeless protesters.
St. Michael’s Basilica was built over a 200 year period starting in 1350 with many modifications and changes in style so that it blends Gothic and Renaissance. It is usually approached on its North sidee as one proceeds from the Stone Bridge. The transept doors and North side were undergoing a severely needed cleaning when we came. Each transept has a Rose window and a tympanum, while the West door supports a large window above its carved tympaum. The tympani are late creations and we could not find information on their programs. The doors display other good examples of stonework. To the west of the church stands its free standing bell tower (which we describe in a General Tip), the tallest point in the city.
The interior of the church discloses a tall and broad-arched nave in two levels. with a tall arcade and large upper windows.. The windows in the choir were destroyed in WWII and delightful new ones were created by Max Ingrand. The pretty pulpit of the 18C shows St.-Michel killing the dragon on its top. (The church is poorly illuminated and our photos are poor).
Construction of the Basilica St. Michel began sometime in the 1350's and took over 200 years to complete. The structure is a wonderful example of gothic architecture along with Fleche St. Michel. Although each structure stands on its own they both comprise what is considered to be one structure. They stand at a famous pilgrimage route and are a UNESCO world Heritage Site.
We didn't have the opportunity to view the interior of the building, but it is quite impressive from the outside. The Basilica does look like it can use a bit of cleaning.