Saturday, 18 July 2015

A revisit

For reasons too complicated to even try to explain (the main reason being curiosity) we decided to pay the Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption in Gourdon another visit.

Luxure (lust)
The first time we had heard about this church dates years back, when guests we had staying in one of our gîtes told us that they wanted to visit that church because it was quite extraordinary. We visited the church for the first time also in 2007.
The purpose of this particular visit was to have a good look at the capitals, of which there are approx. 90 present, where I had photographed only 17 on previous visits. On a nice sunny day we packed the car with our picnic gear and drove off to Gourdon.

Monstres anguipèdes (lower part of the body has the form of a snake)
My usual source gave me the following hint: "Gourdon has mainly groups of primitive capitals, with lots of similar lions, monsters, human heads and floral motives, with occasionally a human figure.".

That was correct, however, there is also a handful of capital depicting well-known themes, such as some of the capital sins and other vices, such as lust, temptation, greed, slander, promiscuity.

Monstres léonins à face humaine (lion-like creatures with human faces)
This information, and where to find those particular capitals I found in a brochure available in the church. Apart from those capitals this church also boasts a number of frescoes or what is left of them. The church itself is very light, which makes studying the various decorations relatively easy.
On the outside there is quite a bit of sculpture to be seen as well; there is big number of modillons adorning the roof edges; they show geometrical patterns, but also human and animal heads, floral motives, wood shavings motive, etc.

Even the corbels supporting the roof edge of the bell tower (1889!) are richly sculpted.
After having looked around for a good three quarters of an hour we installed our camping table and chairs in the shadow of the church and enjoyed our well-earned picnic. When I got home I still had quite a job sorting out and manipulating between 150 and 200 pictures. And only then I realised that in my eagerness to photograph everything in an organised way that I had missed out on two capitals, in a high window just above the entrance to the church!

Roof edge of the bell tower
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Birthday outing

One of the habits I took up from my partner is to organise a special outing on my birthday, instead of spending the whole day as if it were a normal working day.

Sainte-Madeleine, facade
One of the things I had on my list for a long time was Vézelay. We had been there twice, once in 2004 and once in 2007. Strangely enough I had only 5 (five!) pictures of Vézelay in my archives, which given the fact that I have never been shy when it comes to shooting lots of pictures is very strange, to say the least. The church obviously had not made an unforgettable impression on me. Reason enough to drive for two and a half hours to renew the acquaintance. In view of the long trip we headed off quite early, hence we were in time in Vézelay to attend the mass, which was sung utilizing Gregorian chants.

Sainte-Madeleine, narthex
A one hour mass was a bit too much for me; after 10 minutes I disappeared in order to have a good look at the exterior of the basilica and at the narthex. After half an hour I was joined by my partner, and together we admired the capitals of the narthex. By the time the mass was over we decided to go for lunch, and after having eaten we wandered through the mediaeval streets back to the basilica.

There we had ample time to view the inside of the church and the beautiful capitals. Unfortunately the crypt was temporarily closed for maintenance, and it would only be re-opened in a couple of weeks. Why I ever had considered this church to be not very interesting became a bigger riddle with each view and each new capital I saw…. Well, to err is human, is not it?

In the meantime the Musée de l'oeuvre Violet Le-Duc had opened its doors. The museum hosts a number of original capitals of which a copy is installed in the church itself (however, the basilica has an immense number of original capitals). This museum turned out to be very interesting as well.

La Cordelle
After the basilica we wandered off to find a chapel located just outside the walls of Vézelay, La Cordelle or La Chapelle de Sainte-Croix. The path to the chapel came past the spot where a cross was erected in memory of the call to arms for the second crusade by Bernard of Clairvaux in 1146.

Monument Bernard of Clairvaux
Although Vézelay turned out to be very interesting indeed, we decided that it was time to go home, after a long trip, an exhaustive visit to basilica and museum and another long trip in store. Well, go home…

Saint-Père, Notre Dame
Via Bourgogne Romane I had received a clue saying that Saint-Père boasted an interesting Gothic church, something not very common in Burgundy. And since we passed through Saint-Père on the way back, why not make a brief stop there? Between the parking area where we had abandoned the car and the Notre-Dame we bumped into the remains of an old Romanesque church, the Saint-Pierre.

Saint-Père, Saint-Pierre

This day out had been a great success; pity only, that the crypt had been closed….
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.