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Les églises les plus surprenantes de France

Cathedrale St-Front, Perigueux (Dordogne)

The most amazing churches in France

Posted on 10 January 2014 in France

In every town or village, it is expected to find a bell tower, but sometimes it has a funny shape. A review of the most unusual churches to visit during your travels.


When, from the  Isle valley , one sees domes, one wonders if one is in Périgord! This church, built in XIIth  century near a primitive church, was indeed designed on a Greek cross and covered with five domes. A type of architecture reminiscent of St. Mark’s Basilica in  Venice , itself inspired by the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. Became cathedral  Saint-Front , which had suffered greatly, was largely rebuilt in XIXth  century by the architect  Paul Abadie , who gave it its current appearance.

Student of Viollet-le-Duc, Paul Abadie (1812-1884) was inspired by Saint-Front Perigueux and Saint Mark in Venice to build the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre.

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Resurrection Cathedral, Evry (Essonne)image: http://www.lonelyplanet.fr/sites/all/themes/zen/lonelyplanet/images/creative-commons.png

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Designed by Swiss architect  Mario Botta  as «a home for single stage stretched between heaven and earth,» the  Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection Corbinian , built in 1995 in the heart of the  new city of Evry , surprises with its cylindrical (38 m diameter) and its roof cut obliquely crowned silver lime. Its surface is studded with more than 840,000 bricks (handcrafted in  Toulouse ) arranged in subtle geometric patterns that animate the walls while playing an acoustic role. The marble altar lies on a column that plunges to 5 m depth to the crypt in which the bishops are buried.

Cathedral of Evry (cathedrale-evry.cef.fr), which seats 1,400 people, is the only one to have been built in France in the twentieth century.


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Troglodyte Abbey of Saint-Roman, Beaucaireimage: http://www.lonelyplanet.fr/sites/all/themes/zen/lonelyplanet/images/creative-commons.png

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3. troglodyte Abbey of Saint-Roman, Beaucaire (Gard)

The only troglodyte abbey of Western Europe is also one of the oldest monasteries in France . Entirely dug into a hill, it shows a millennial history. From theVth century, hermits and monks enlarge the natural cavities of the hill, dig in limestone and there shall adjust chapel, cells and common rooms. For over 1,000 years, they will occupy this place. Today, you can still enter the chapel of over 1000 m 2 , with a vaulted Romanesque choir and a seat prior carved into the wall.

The walk in the scrubland and the panoramic view of the meandering Rhone add to the pleasure of discovery ( www.abbaye-saint-roman.com )

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Eglise Saint-Michel-de-Thiérache

4. Fortified churches of Thiérache (Aisne)

In the midst of a landscape of rolling hills and lush groves they arise, unexpected, bristling with corner towers, dungeons, loopholes or watchtowers. Today, the contrast between the tranquility of the countryside Préardennaises peaks and the harnessing of its churches is striking. But in the Middle Ages, in the absence of castles, the people had no other choice than to fortify churches and houses to protect soldiers who roamed this territory.

The fortified churches route through the villages of Aouste (keep sixteenth century breakthrough gunboats) of Signy-le-Petit, Servion and Liart (church fortified tower of the fifteenth century).

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St. Catherine's Church, Honfleur

5. St. Catherine’s Church, Honfleur (Calvados)

A nave designed by shipwrights, that which is not surprising. And when the ship in question is not a boat, but that of a church, it is enough to rub his eyes. Still, the wooden ceiling of the church of St. Catherine in Honfleur , has the shape of an inverted ship’s hull! At the end of the Hundred Years War, it appealed to the carpenters port to replace the stone chapel that was destroyed: depending on version, or the masons were too busy rebuilding the city, or one reserved to the stone fortifications. A few decades later, the addition of a twin nave formed two side hulls side.

Another original bell tower, covered with chestnut trees, is located few meters away.

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Chapelle Cocteau, Villefranche-sur-mer

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6. Cocteau Chapel Villefranche-sur-Mer (Alpes-Maritimes)

The small Chapel of St. Peter , located on the waterfront of Villefranche, was entirely decorated by Jean Cocteau in 1956-1957, with the help of many local artisans. Jean Cocteau took six years to persuade fishermen to work on this building, which was also the seat of their probity. Symbolic decorations drawn in chalk then covered with paraffin transport us to the heart of local customs and religious beliefs. We also recognize some faces, like Jean Marais, Cocteau companion, or that of guitarist Django Reinhardt.

The chapel is open daily, year round.

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Church Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, Paris

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7. Church Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre (Paris)

Decked bricks, this church which opens on the Place des Abbesses with a high gate flanked by two octagonal towers offers a stunning contrast to the surrounding houses, typical of the old Montmartre . A whole set of arcs and curves highlighted by a glazed ceramic decor gives it a little oriental air and connected to the new Art . Built between 1894 and 1904 by the architect Anatole de Baudot , a disciple of Viollet-le-Duc, this church was built in reinforced concrete, then a new technique. Hence these pillars 25 m high for only 50 cm wide which made ​​shuddered contemporaries!

A beautiful baptismal font, made by goldsmith Goudji in 2007, also meets the spirit of place. Visit saintjeandemontmartre.com

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Eglise Notre-Dame du Haut at Ronchamp

8. Notre-Dame du Haut at Ronchamp (Haute-Saône)

Built on a high hill of 472 meters, it dominates the Saônoise city of Ronchamp . It was designed by the famous architect Le Corbusier , and its implementation is completed in 1955. The building, built entirely of concrete, strikes by the purity of its rounded lines and its walls whitewashed. Despite its compact dimensions, the interior seems spacious, inviting to contemplation through a real play of light. «I wanted to create a place of silence, prayer, peace, inner joy,» said Le Corbusier after construction.

The chapel is open every day of the year except January 1st. Check timetables on the site www.chapellederonchamp.fr

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Inside the & # 039; d & # 039 Church; Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

9. Church monolith of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne (Charente)

Atypical, the underground church Saint-Jean of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is up to the early Christian world and even pagan late Roman antiquity. Carved into a limestone cliffVIIth century, greatly enlarged inXIIth century by Benedictine monks, this huge monolith sanctuary has a nave to the high semicircular arches of 20 m. To see absolutely, the imposing reliquary inspired by the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem , a treasure of Romanesque art . The cave church also contains a baptismal font decorated with a Greek cross and sarcophagi. Here we plunge to the sources of the medieval faith.

The village of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, ranked among the most beautiful in France, deserves to be some attention, if only to admire the beautiful entrance gatehouse of the old feudal castle.

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A slight imbalance ... Cathedrale Saint Samson, Dol-de-Bretagne, Ille-et-Vilaine

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10. Cathedral of Saint Samson, Dol-de-Bretagne (Ille-et-Vilaine)

The Saint-Samson cathedral is both one of the most important monuments in Britain and one of the most amazing. Burned in 1203 by John Lackland, king of England, it was also rebuilt under his command. The result is both surprising features. This Gothic austerity Monster 100 m long and 20 m high at first something wobbly, one of the two towers that flank the western façade is indeed unfinished for lack of funding. Built originally in Romanesque style it retains some elements of which, the cathedral also displays an English style , so Stendhal went so far as to compare it to the Salisbury Cathedral in 1837.

According to local tradition, an underground link the Saint-Samson cathedral Mount Dol.

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