Saint-Marie de la Bastide

We had spotted an unusual church steeple peeking through the trees on the opposite side of the river, called the right bank, so we hopped on a tram to investigate.

The Garonne river runs through Bordeaux with the majority of the historical city, business district, shops and homes, our Airbnb included, on the left one side/bank.

This intriguing church, Saint Mary’s, is located on the opposite side.
A newer church, the neo-medieval church Sainte-Marie de La Bastide was built in 1887. Unfortunately the chosen site has unstable ground, presenting the builder with numerous challenges. There are dozens of wooden piles deeply sunk into the peaty soil beneath to support the weight and distribute the load of the church and bell tower. Because of the soft soils, still today, there is a slow and constant settlement of the foundations.

What in particular caught our attention though was the beautifully rounded belfry. Instead of the usual Gothic belfry, like most churches have in Bordeaux, this church has a large bulb-shaped belfry crowned with a lantern. Apparently this bulb shape caused much curiosity as it was a unique design. Inside the church, there is a wooden framed ceiling visible in the nave and some of the chapels have been painted with lovely colorful decorations.

Each church we have visited to date in our travels, has an interesting story to uncover. Saint Mary’s tale is mostly about it’s construction challenges and design elements. This is a pretty church and we are glad to took the time to visit it.

— Ted & Julia

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