Free walking tours Bordeaux

Porte Cailhue

The Cailhau Gate, the castle-shaped gateway

Bordeaux is a fascinating city. It has an enchanting history and an amazing past. It is therefore not surprising that many of its corners hold secrets that will leave you in love from the very first moment. A good example of this is the Cailhau Gate in Bordeaux.

In the following lines we are going to tell you about this tourist attraction and why you have to include it in your itinerary when you come to enjoy our free tour of Bordeaux.

What is the Cailhau gate of Bordeaux?

The Cailhau gate is one of the six Bordeaux gates that formed part of the old defensive wall of the city. Built around 1494, this gate served as the main entrance and a point of defence against possible foreign attacks and invasions.

Architecture and style

Standing 35 metres high, Bordeaux’s Cailhau gate is remarkable for its imposing tower, which evokes the image of a medieval castle. Its architectural style combines Gothic and Renaissance elements, as can be seen in the arches over the bay windows, the conical roof and the canopies over the niches.

A striking detail in the building is the theatrical scene: it includes two angels with a shield made up of three fleurs-de-lis. It is located in the centre of a capital that is also decorated with the same flowers, right on the façade of the side facing the docks.

On the exterior facing the river, there is an equestrian statue of King Charles VIII, surrounded by shields and lions, symbols of royalty. On the façade facing the city, there is a representation of the Virgin and Child, and an inscription that reads: “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum” (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you).

Interior and exhibitions

When you enter the Cailhau gate, you can take a journey through the history of Bordeaux. The interior houses an exhibition with weapons, tools and old documents that will give you an insight into what life was like in different historical periods.

History of the Cailhau Gate of Bordeaux

As we have already told you, it was an entrance gate and also a defensive gate. It was built towards the end of the 15th century. At the time, it was also considered as the great triumphal arch, after the conquest of King Charles VIII in Fornovo, Italy. In fact, there is a niche with its sphinx as a tribute to such a great achievement.

Just behind the Porte de Cailhau, was the Palais de l’Ombrière. This was the official residence of the Dukes of Aquitaine and was later occupied by the kings of England, until well into the 15th century. Finally, this palace was the seat of the Bordeaux Parliament, one of the places most visited by Montaigne in the 16th century and Montesquieu in the 18th century.

It was not the only defensive gate in the city, far from it, but it was one of the most important. Today it offers one of the best views of the old town of Bordeaux.

From here you can see the beautiful Pont de Pierre, the oldest bridge in Bordeaux. And if you look closely, you’ll also find some traces of the old city wall. It’s a stretch barely two metres thick and 10 metres high, but it will give you an idea of what things were like here in the past.

This was also the name of the Bordeaux bourgeois family, the Cailhau, who lived around the site.

What to do near the Porte de Cailhau?

Bordeaux’s Porte de Cailhau is located in a very central and lively area of Bordeaux, where there are many options for enjoying the city’s gastronomy, culture and leisure activities. Here are a few suggestions:

Stroll along the Port de la Lune

The Port of the Moon is the name given to the stretch of the Garonne River that surrounds the historic centre of Bordeaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On this walk, you will be able to see other monuments of Bordeaux such as:

Visit the Customs Museum

The Customs Museum is located on the Place de la Bourse, opposite the Mirror of Water. This museum tells the story of French customs from the Middle Ages to the present day, and exhibits a collection of objects related to the control of goods, taxes and smuggling.

Tasting Bordeaux’s typical products

Bordeaux is famous for its gastronomy, which is based on quality products such as wine, cheese, foie gras, oysters and canelés. In the area around the Porte de Cailhau, there are numerous restaurants, bars and markets where you can sample these delicacies.

A good option is the Capuchins Market, the largest and oldest in the city, where you can find a wide variety of fresh and local products, and taste the regional gastronomy at a good price.

Discover the other five Bordeaux gates

The Cailhau Gate is one of the six gates that were part of the ancient ramparts of Bordeaux, and which are preserved in different parts of the city. They are:

We encourage you to discover them and learn more about their history and significance.

Opening hours and prices of the Porte Cailhau in Bordeaux

The Porte Cailhau is open seven days a week from 10am to 1pm and in the afternoon from 2pm to 6pm. It is closed to the public only on 25 December and 1 January. The last visit can be up to 30 minutes before closing time.

The entrance fee is 5 euros per person. Accompanied children under 12 years of age can enter free of charge.

However, we recommend you visit the official website of the Bordeaux Convention and Visitors Bureau to check the conditions and get your ticket.

How to get to the Porte Cailhau in Bordeaux?

Getting to Bordeaux’s Porte Cailhau is quite easy. As we have already mentioned, it is in the heart of the old town, in the Place du Palais, near the quayside. It’s easy to get there in just a few minutes on foot.

Discovering Bordeaux’s Porte Cailhau on a free Tour

Of course, as in any new city, getting to know the most attractive places and curiosities of Bordeaux thanks to the support of tourist guides will always be the ideal option. Besides the fact that the locals will show you the most attractive secrets, you have the possibility to ask for a tour in your own language.

Nowadays you have the possibility to book tours for free, which makes it much more convenient. Of course, it is also more budget-friendly.

Don’t hesitate, sign up for our free tour and be amazed by the magic of the Porte Cailhau and other treasures hidden in Bordeaux.

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