14 January 2018

L'Église de Cunault : ampleur et hauteur

Of the Église priorale de Notre-Dame de Cunault, the Michelin Guide Vert says that from the outside, the church offers the eye nothing noticeably extraordinary (« n'offre rien qui retienne véritablement l'attention »). It goes on to mention the "massive" bell tower with its stone steeple and the church's "wide and flat" façade.

So what you see once you go inside is almost astonishing. You might be amazed by the breadth and height of the columns holding up the vaulted ceiling and roof. Quoting the Guide Vert, « on reste saisi par l'ampleur et la hauteur des piliers... » Cunault is "one of the largest Romanesque edifices in western France," according to the Cadogan Loire guidebook.

Monks fleeing the 9th-century Norsemen who invaded their island, Noirmoutier, off France's Atlantic coast, founded the abbey at Cunault further inland in the year 847 of our era. Only 15 years later, the invading Norsemen forced the religious community to move much farther east, all the way to Burgundy.

Decades later, the monks returned to Cunault and built an abbey church in the style of the Benedictine churches of Burgundy. It was designed to accommodate large crowds and processions of the faithful on annual pilgrimages to the site. Of the monastery, only the church built in the 11th to 13th centuries survives.

In medieval times, Cunault was  a prosperous river port on the Loire. It's not far from the town of Saumur, and the city of Angers less than an hour away by car. The author of the Cadogan guidebook describes the surrounding area along the south bank of the river as "a string of utterly charming Loire-side old villages" with several beautiful churches and the ruins of an old fortress set in "delightfully wooded" countryside with nice river views.

All these photos date back to July 2006. I took them with a Canon Pro90 IS digital camera that I'd been using since the year 2000.


  1. Ce qui m'avait frappé, c'êtait la blancheur de la pierre et la luminosité de l'église en général.

    1. That's the same impression I had in Pontigny where I went back last July.

    2. I remember Pontigny that way. I did a post about Pontigny in 2011, and now after looking I see I have several photos from there that I never posted. Another series...?

  2. Amazing to think it was built almost 1,000 years ago. And over a very long time period.

  3. Those pictures, and that building, are just breathtaking.
    Maybe this comment will get through.
    There's another weird quirk that's happened more than once -- I'll be writing a comment, and the screen will jerk, whatever I've written disappears, and I'm back to the blank comment box again. I've worked with difficult editors, but really, after all!

  4. Emm, I’ve been leaving comments on both Ken and Walt’s blogs....
    but they never appear when published!!
    My personal opinion is that they get published on random blogs...
    the owners of which scratch their heads wondering what the reason is for the comment!!
    I’ve also been getting the “don’t like this” pre-post vanish and start again blank box syndrome, too!!

    1. Hello Tim, you too eh? I wonder why this comment came through after others failed. I don't remember getting your failed comments on e-mail. If I had and then didn't see them on the blog itself, I would have realized there was a problem. Maybe Blogger fixed something.

    2. Or maybe it’s just Blodger doing its thang!!
      It’s only from the iPad they vanish totally.... in Fenêtres Dix I get the reset partway through as Emm says..... probably poor programming!!

    3. Like all of you, I'm just a blogger user. I am not familiar with the app's entrails.


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