Place Pey-Berland is considered as Bordeaux’s main square. It features the Cathédrale Saint-André, the Tour Pey-Berland and the Hôtel de Ville (town hall).
It is a major transport hub with two of the city’s tram lines running through it (A+B station : Hôtel de Ville) as well as bus stops and VCub (bike) stations. The large open square is a nice departure from the smaller more tightly-packed squares and streets nearby.
The earliest parts of the gothic Cathédrale Saint-André were opened by Pope Urban II in 1096 although a church had existed on this site since the 4th century. The cathedral boasts a gothic nave that was modified during the 13th century, an ornate organ 1873 and was listed as a monument of historic importance in 1886.
Eleanor of Aquitaine’s first marriage- to the King of France- was conducted here in 1137 before her famous second marriage to Henry Plantagenet, the future King of England.
The freestanding Tour Pey-Berland was constructed next to the cathedral in 1440 to house a large tenor bell that was too large and heavy for the existing towers of the cathedral. This tower was, for a long time, the tallest structure in the city until a storm 1617 caused the very top to partially collapse. The bell that is housed in the tower today weighs a massive 11 tonnes and is the fourth largest in France.
LOCAL TIP: Go up to the top of the Tower! It’s 231 steps up and only 19 people are allowed up at each time. Be sure to visit in the earlier opening hours when the queue isn’t as long. After huffing and puffing up the stairs, your breath is taken away once again with the amazing view of the old city!