Romanesque Church Hunt Looking for churches and other France adventures.

April 5, 2008

Excursion to the region of Les Vans

Filed under: Ardeche - Churches,Church Previews — Karen @ 5:22 pm

Church Preview

Southwest of our location in Ardeche is Les Vans, a village at the center of a region with some quite interesting churches. Here is where the land becomes mountain and valley. The gem of this region of interesting churches is Thines, whose magnificent Romanesque church is considered to combine perfectly the elements of Romanesque architecture, sculpture and decoration.

Summaries are courtesy of the Vans tourism office.

Naves - Romanesque church near village of Naves

Nestling in the village which has retained its character, the Romanesque church is one of the oldest in the Pays des Vans , and is dedicated to St James the Elder. It is typical of primitive Romanesque art, and has been been destroyed many times, a victim of many historical events over the centuries, and especially of the instable ground. Side chapels were added in the 19 th century, partly to act as buttresses. Like the village as a whole, it is built on a rocky outcrop made up of various strata of hard limestone and soft marl.

Romanesque church at Gravieres, Ardeche


This village at the foot of the Serre de Barre , is right in the middle of an transition area between the Vivarais and the mountain. The church presents a unique and original mixture of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It dates from the 12 th century and was listed in 1907. The buttress bellfry reaches a height of 27 m, and dates from the second half of the 16 th century. Impacts from the Protestants’ arquebuses are still visible. The doorway, with its ogee arches is flamboyant, and similar to that of the church in Les Salelles. Inside, the nave has two barrel vaulted bays. The columns are supported by historiated capitals and reach up to 9.40 m. In the centre of the choir is the Tree of Jesse, sculpted in stone and representing the genealogical tree of Christ starting with Jesse, King David’s father. The walls surrounding the gold-plated altar are decorated with fresques and illuminations. The fine houses in the village and hamlets, are evidence of the once prosperous times of silk-worm breeding.

Thines, Romanesque church, ArdecheTHINES

This grandiose site in the heart of the Cevennes has a wild beauty of its own. The village with its schist houses perched on a rocky outcrop dominates the valley of the river Thine. The church dates from the 12 th century and is dedicated to Our Lady of Thines. It is a jewel of architecture, sculpture and decoration. Built in light granite and red and beige sandstone, it brings together all the elements which typify the beauty of Romanesque art. It is difficult to find another church combining elements that are usually separate, in such a way as to create an architectural master-piece.


The village has kept many traces of the past. You come to it over a 12 th century bridge probably built by the monks of St Giles Abbey in the Gard. The church dates from the 13 th century, and contains a rich variety of remarkable pictoral modillions. It nestles against the castle, famous for its French gardens designed by students of Le Nôtre (who designed Vaux-le-Vicomte). The architecture of the castle, the small village squares and narrow twisting lanes give character to this well-preserved place.

March 31, 2008

Eglise Saint-Martin-de-Vion

Filed under: Ardeche - Churches,Church Previews — Karen @ 12:48 am

Church Preview

I’ve been trying to find some photos on the web of churches in Ardeche within driving distance and it’s quite difficult.  Many of the communes only have rudimentary sites listing services and not much on their fabulous Romanesque landmarks.

Saint-Martin-de-VionSt Martin’s is a Romanesque era church and Benedictine priory that was rebuilt in the 19th century.  Located on the National 86 north of TOURNON, it is located on a promontory that can be seened for miles. The layout from the Romanesque era has been retained, but much of the decoration is from the 19th century.

One of most fascinating parts of the church is the crypt, quite rare.  The only other example in the Vivarais is the cathedrale at Cruas.  Also of note is the monumental baptismal font of sandstone.

May 18, 2007

More Aleyrac

Filed under: Church Previews,Drome - Churches — Karen @ 6:05 am

 Church Preview

Prieure d’Aleyrac - MapAleyrac seems to be a truly magical place. It became a ruin
wayback in 1389 but still possesses many notable features
and is located in a wild and beautiful site.

Prieure d’Aleyrac

Prieure d’Aleyrac

  • The western facade with its three windows surmounted by a bell tower.
  • The pentagonal apse.
  • Interior ornamentation of the nave and the cornices.

Under the first span of the nave spouts a spring that pilgrims to the site believe to be miraculous especially for the cure of headaches and skin diseases.

Prieure d’Aleyrac - Miraculous spring


May 16, 2007

Prieure d’Aleyrac

 Church Preview

Prieure d’Aleyrac

All I can say is ‘Wow!’


Just found this photo and I’ll need to get some more information, but it is sure interesting.  More later.

April 7, 2007

Map of the Tricastin Romanesque Churches

Filed under: Church Previews,Drome - Churches — Karen @ 11:58 pm

Church Preview

The churches in our immediate area close to our house are below. Click the map icon to see them on a Google map. For the St Restitut churches and St Paul Cathedrale, double clicking to center the map on the marker and then using the controls in satellite view to zoom in will enable you to see the actual aerial view of the hotel. Unfortunately, the Garde d’Adhemar satellite picture is too poor to find the actual building.

Map of Churches

Here are the towns with their chapels.

  • La Garde Adhemar
    Chapelle du Val des Nymphes
  • Saint Restitut
    Eglise de Saint Restitut
    Chapelle du St Sepulcre
  • St-Paul Trois Chateaux
    Cathedrale Saint Paul


Filed under: Church Previews — Karen @ 6:45 pm

This blog is devoted to the search for Romanesque churches, primarily in France. It’s hard to explain why these thousand-year-old buildings are so compelling, but even the fact that they have stood guard over the countryside for so many years, while all around the daily life has continued is a source of wonder.

A small group of friends and I go every year to relax in the countryside in France–drinking wine, eating good food, swimming, visiting markets, following our individual artistic pursuits. But our tourist spots (once we have seen the Pont du Gards, the chateaux, the ‘must-sees’ for visitors) are always the local Romanesque churches.

In this blog, I will share research, past, present and future adventures, photos, art and all bits of info emanating from this topic.  Welcome to our adventures!


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