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I visited the Belfry of Bailleul

I visited the Belfry of Bailleul

I was told that at the Belfry of Bailleul, I could find a mermaid, magical clocks, an amazing view and centuries of history. So, intrigued by such tales, I booked my ticket to climb the belfry. Shall I tell you about it?

A fragmented history

My visit began in the Gothic room at the bottom of the belfry. Dating back to the 13th century, I could see carved crests in the vaults, which enhanced the medieval side of this place even more. The guide talked about the eventful history of Bailleul, and consequently, about its belfry. The First World War didn’t give the Flemish city a moment’s peace, and was practically wiped off the map.

A majestic monument

We went into the city hall, where the stained glass windows which overlook the central staircase dazzled me. Their colours were gorgeous! I followed the guide through the corridors of the city hall. Did you know that it didn’t look the same at all before the First World War but that it was rebuilt in this Flemish Neo-Renaissance style?

A few extra steps, a door, a little corridor, and I arrived at the heart of the belfry. Sheltered by these thick brick walls, I felt like I had been projected outside of time. I couldn’t hear the sounds of the town. I forgot I was right in the centre of Bailleul!

I climbed the green staircase where a sign indicated “Visit continues this way”.

A magical place

Around me, there were 4 gigantic shutters. In the centre of the room, a strange mechanism. I was in the clock room, the ones displayed on the four sides of the belfry. When the guide opened one of the shutters, I was impressed! These large dials were like something from Alice in Wonderland! The climb continued, a golden silhouette was waiting: it was Melusine. I listened attentively to her story, her legend. A story of love, deception, betrayal; a Shakespearean drama hatched out at the top of the belfry! Just above, the carillon chimed melodiously. The heavy bells rang simultaneously, sounding an enchanting ritornello throughout the town. I felt like I was in a fairy tale!

A breathtaking panoramic view

Did I already mention Alice in Wonderland? My intuition was right. You need to go through a little hatch to leave the belfry. I had to contort myself a little. It was worth it! A 360° view of Flanders! Over there, the Mont Noir. Here, Saint-Vaast church. I could see the square and the dance of pedestrians shopping.

It was time for me to come back down onto firm ground! I had another quick look inside the belfry, with its fairy tale décor, and truly, I could understand why it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005.

That's it !

“I have lived in Bailleul for years, and I always wondered what it was like inside the Belfry. What show ! “.


Sophie, Bailleul

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