Romanesque Church Hunt Looking for churches and other France adventures.

January 31, 2008

An adventure in Rochecolombe

Filed under: Ardeche - Churches — Tags: , , — Karen @ 10:32 pm

I mentioned earlier that our destination this June will be the beautiful and wild Ardeche region of France. We have visited there twice before and the number of Romanesque churches to be explored is endless.

This post will go back to our trip in 2006 going to the perched ancient village of Rochecolombe in central Ardeche. Our friend had told us about this village and as we approached we could see the tip-top of the church, but no apparent means of getting there.

So what to do with a church in tantalizing proximity? Why, follow the signs that say “Eglise romane XIIieme” of course. In fact, a whole chapter could be written on the adventure of following “eglise romane” signs.

The road led up a steep hill and past a residence to a place where we could look down at the church.

Chapelle du Vieux Rochecolombe

We spied a weed-strewn and overgrown path and of course, the “eglise romane” sign and followed it for quite a while.

The path to Roche-Colombe

This path led us to the back of the church which while closed, was viewable through a grate. A very great discovery! It’s often complicated to try and get in to see the interiors, so we are always thrilled when we can see inside or can get a key.

Interior of Roche-colombe.

Here’s a detail of the wall painting:

Detail of wall painting

January 27, 2008

Church Hunt 2008

Filed under: Ardeche - Other Points of Interest — Tags: , , , — Karen @ 9:54 pm

This year we will be traveling to Ardeche, the wild rocky region just west of the Rhone river and north of Gard.  We have traveled there twice before because a very wonderful friend of ours has invited us to her lovely village.  This year, I will focus on reviewing churches in Ardeche that we have seen and ones that we hope to see in the future.

The Ardeche countryside is startling in its combination of ruggedness and beauty.  There is many variations in the terrain from north to south, but we have mostly explored the center region.

The photo below was from a golden afternoon when we thought we saw a large soaring bird so we stopped the car and wandered in a field that overlooked this valley.  The sun and clouds created a pattern of shifting light and dark that was magical, but we never did see our bird again.

Ardeche Valley

January 11, 2008

Configurations for house-hunting

Filed under: Renting Your French Country House — Karen @ 4:44 pm

When looking to rent your French country house, there are many different configurations of  fellow travelers.  Our group is two couples and one single person and therefore we look for a minimum of 3 bedrooms.

But some years, we have had up to eight people needing five bedrooms.  One great side effect of our yearly trip to France is that each time different family and friends accompany us.  It makes each trip very memorable.

So the first thing you need to do is figure out what your configuration is.  During my perambulations on this blog, I will stick with a group looking for a 3-bedroom or larger.

In evaluating prices for a house, we divide per person, not per room.  Our thinking is that everyone shares in the kitchen, the pool, the grounds and it’s less important whether there is one or two persons in the room.  That being said, the couples might get the bigger room and the single might get the smaller one.

The next important consideration is when you are planning to travel to France.  July and August are high season and prices will double.  My advice is to consider any months except July and August.  It’s very crowded all over in those months and in the South, it can be a little too hot.

Ideal times to go are May/June and September/October.

So now we have the initial criteria for our search.

• Group size (for examples, we will use our group size — around 5 looking for a 3-bedroom.

• Time of year to travel (we will focus on May-June for our examples here.)

Having flexibility when looking is a good thing.  And starting in January is not too early.  It’s possible to find a great house later in the year, but you might have to go through quite a few before you find availability.

Next up: Where to go in France?

January 6, 2008

Cheerleading for Country Living

Filed under: Renting Your French Country House — Karen @ 5:11 pm

If you are browsing through the entries in the blog and have thought about a French country vacation, this is a cheerleading session for you. While sounding exotic and complicated, this mode of travel is indescribably satisfying and not difficult to arrange.

Staying in the countryside in France can be very economical and yet you will experience all the wonderfulness that is France much more intensely than a weekend in Paris. Here are some common objections….

• Country houses and villas are for millionaires, not me.

Comment: Renting a country house, per person, can be the cheapest vacation that you have ever taken, not to mention the money saved by dining on your terrace in front of your pool on fabulous fresh produce and meat.

• I’m quite attracted to things French, but I know that the French do not like Americans in particular and that discourages me. Plus, I don’t speak French!

Comment: It has been my experience that the French people are very clear about separating politics from people. The fact that they are not enamored of George Bush does not enter into their dealings with American tourists. Also, there are some cross-cultural snafus that you can learn to avoid that will keep you and your French friends smiling. More on that later.

• The dollar is so horrible–everything will be so expensive!

Comment: While things do cost more because of the current unfavorable exchange rate, things can and will change. With your French country house rental, you will know exactly what you are spending.

In my next blog, I will outline a way of estimating costs and we can begin the hunt for a fabulous country house for this year.

January 5, 2008

Finding your quaint French country house

Filed under: Renting Your French Country House — Karen @ 4:46 pm

The new year has begun and with it comes the yearly hunt for a well-priced country house for a week or two in France. During the coming weeks, I will review some things that we have discovered about renting in France and how you can to! Even with the U.S. dollar having problems, you can still find a charming, affordable country house WITH POOL, that will delight your family and friends.

I have started a new category so any beginning Francophile finding this site will have this info for summer 2008!

Happy New Year!

September 22, 2007

The Moratorium

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karen @ 4:41 pm

Church hunt fans, don’t despair. The site was upgraded to a new version of Word Press, but now the beautiful theme is not quite working. I’ll be working on a new look that will appear shortly.

Also, please forgive the “pause” in posts. Years ago my fellow travelers instituted a “moratorium” on France talk from the end of our summer expedition till Thanksgiving. They became impatient with rhapsodizing about future trip possibilities immediate after arriving back home. So any discussions of the next summer’s itinerary waits till then.

But, most wonderfully, the moratorium is nearly ended. And, to celebrate, our group will be gathering at Les Halles in the financial district for a French-tinged thanksgiving with friends and family. Sante!

July 13, 2007

Tania’s Visit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karen @ 2:02 pm

Tania came to visit today. It was very fun.  I showed her how to write in this blog and how to post a photo.  The photo of my little elfin kitty Squeaky looks so sweet I decided to share it with the world.  As you can see, Squeak resembles a young Audrey Hepburn.

Meow, we’ll be back to Romanesque churches soon.

  • Squeaky and Audrey

June 28, 2007

Back from the hunt

Filed under: Drome - Other Items of Interest,Uncategorized — Karen @ 1:33 am

It was a thrilling two weeks in France–the first one in Drome Provencale and the other spent with friends in Ardeche. It’s always a little sad to be back, but it will be fun to post our adventures and talk about the new churches we have seen as well as recounting tales of the lovely French people we have met.


May 29, 2007

St Paul Trois Chateaux

Filed under: Drome - Churches,Uncategorized — Karen @ 11:57 am

cathedrale.jpgThe Cathedral of Notre Dame & St Paul was classified as a historic building in 1841 then restored under Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870). Its construction dates from the 11th century and lasted until the beginning of XIIIe, i.e. at the height of the Romanesque architecture characterized by a “imposing sobriety”.

Built out of calcareous stone, the dimensions are masterly: 45m length for 18m broad and 20m height. On the southernmost porch, principal entry of the Cathedral, one can note the presence of a sundial. Marks left by the stone masons, show the mode of remuneration of the time. Inside the Cathedral, one will be able to observe a mosaic paving the chorus and representing Jerusalem, of the Gothic frescos going back from XIVe and XVe century, many low-reliefs as well as the old wood furnace bridge covered with sheet with gold (1663) and Harmonium (1704).

Detail from the Cathedral.

May 28, 2007

To Market, To Market

There’s nothing like starting out a church hunt with a stop at a market for lunch supplies and shopping therapy. But it’s also possible to miss out on markets when combining unfamiliarity with an area and a propensity to sleep late (but of course you are on vacation!)

Here’s my list for our area of the Drome. I tried checking the tourist offices as well and have noted a couple of markets that are the don’t-miss ones.

Montelimar seems to have a market everyday, but I’m not sure on the details of that.

Tulette (cute little town with a cute church)

Vaison-La-Romaine (8-2–provencale market – this is a big market)



Nyons (This is a very famous large market — a don’t-miss!)
Montségur-sur-Lauzon <>



Nyons (this market is a ‘marche provencale’)



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