Guarded by a twinset of witch-hat capped towers, this Gothic belfry was built on the vestiges of 13th-century protective ramparts and later served as both a prison and the bell tower of the nearby Hôtel de Ville (city hall). The huge bell, born as Armande-Louise in 1775 (bells always have names), weighs a hefty 7750kg and required 14 pairs of oxen to hoist it into place.
It was originally only rung on celebratory occasions, to call the city to arms, and to warn of great fires and storms. Today it peals six times a year – at 11am on 1 January, 1 May, 8 May, 14 July, 28 August and 11 November – plus at noon on the 1st Sunday of each month. Visits are by guided tour (maximum five people): between June and September, reserve and buy tickets in situ; other months, head to the tourist office.