Wednesday 25 June 2014


We've driven through Avon-les-Roches often enough on the way to somewhere else and each time remarked that "we really should have a look at the church the next time we pass through". Well, we finally managed to do just that a couple of weeks ago.
Notre-Dame, Avon-les-Roches
The church sits right on the road and we've only had a glance in passing. but noted that the porch was definitely worth a closer look. The bulk of the church - choir, nave and apse - was rebuilt in the 13th century with the later addition of the spire [C16th]. The whole was restored early in the 19th century.
12th century porch
The porch was built around 1120 and formed part of the original church and has a splendidly carved doorway and windows, in the Romanesque style. Capitals supporting the arches display life-like faces and beasts - both real and imaginary. The south door retains beautifully detailed geometric & zig-zag carving framing its round arch. Just above the south door you can see the lower part of a window which has been truncated by the current roof.
South door
Inside the porch is an intriguing bit of graffiti preserved behind a perspex panel. We spent quite some time trying to decipher what it said and were able to make out some of the text: L'an, Lorrene, duc de Bourgoigne and de la typhan..?. but that was as far as we got.
Late 15th century graffiti
According to Tourainissime© it reads:

 "L'an MYL IIIC* LXXVI devant Nan dedans Lorrene fut tué le duc de Bourgoigne la vigille de la typhaine"                                                                                   
* should be read as MYL IIII in our opinion

Which translates as: 'In the year 1476, on the eve of Epiphany, before Nancy in the Lorraine, the Duke of Burgundy was killed.'
Detail on the capitals
Charles le Téméraire [Charles the Bold] died at the battle of Nancy on the 5th January 1477 according to our modern day calendar. At the time it would have been the 27th December 1476 in the Julian calendar; but, irrespective of the date, it would still have been the eve of Epiphany. [Tourainissime seems to have his dates muddled up and states that the vigil of Typhaine would be the modern day 1st of November, Toussaint]
Looking out from the porch

Sadly, the church was locked so we were unable to see inside. We will have to go back as we'd like to see the 12th century holy water stoop and the 12th century font. The stoop is unusual enough to be classed separately as a 'monument historique'.


Ken Broadhurst said...

A and N, where is Avon-les-Roches? What places is it close to?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Ken - Avon-les-Roches is over in the west side of dept 37. Just north of L'ile Bouchard and not far from Crissay-sur-Manse. It's just off the D21 which runs from Chinon to Saint Epain.

The Broad said...

Beautiful and fascinating!There are so many wonderful churches to discover in France -- it astonishes me to see them every time...

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - and so often so little information about them [which, for us, is half the fun! :-)].

The porch of this church is super because you can get up close and personal with the carvings.

the fly in the web said...

Yes, you do have to go back!

That porch is superb.

Perpetua said...

What a gorgeous piece of Romanesque architecture and in such lovely stone too. Please do go back and show us the rest. :-)