A source of pride for Bordeaux, the Saint-Michel freestanding bell tower, which the people of Bordeaux call “La Flèche” (The Spire), is 114 metres high and soars slim and light toward the sky.
Please note: The Saint-Michel spire closed on 1 November 2021 for a major construction project that will last five years.
Unusually, and like the city's Saint-André cathedral, this is freestanding and located alongside, rather than on top of the church. The belltower was built in the 15th century on an ancient burial ground.
Mummies found in a nearby cemetery were exhibited there to the public in the late 18th century.
Their shrivelled faces haunted the Saint Michel crypt for many years. There were nearly 70 mummies, and they attracted thousands of visitors, including such famous authors as Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Théophile Gautier, and more recently, Ferdinand Céline. Some of them were given names: "Buried Alive", "The Family Poisoned by Mushrooms", "The African", "The General Killed in a Duel", etc.
The macabre display ended in 1990. An audio-visual presentation now recounts the history of this exhibition that is still remembered by many Bordelais. Saint Michel belltower and its crypt are open every day of the week during the tourist season.