A Gem in the Allier (Dennis Aubrey)


The Allier is a department of France in the northern Auvergne just above Clermont-Ferrand. On a map, it is almost dead center in France in the hills of the Bourbonnais. As a part of the Compostella pilgrimage route, the region is full of Romanesque churches, none more wonderful than the Église Notre Dame in Châtel-Montagne.

Église Notre Dame seen from the distance (Photo by Dennis Aubrey)

Inside it is a classic Romanesque church with a banded barrel vault spanning a narrow nave and groin vaults over the side aisles.

Nave looking back towards western entrance (Photo by Dennis Aubrey)

The nave has a fine arrangement of elements. The nave arcade is composed of four bays, each surmounted by three arches of the tribune, and then a single clerestory window.

North wall of the nave (Photo by Dennis Aubrey)

There is a seven-arch hemicycle in the apse, surrounded by a charming ambulatory that reflects the pilgrimage origins of the church.

Ambulatory and apse (Photo by Dennis Aubrey)

One of my favorite views of the church was the south entrance to the church, caught in the late afternoon. I always love these door shots and the stairs to the western tribune add a nice touch to this image.

South entrance ((Photo by Dennis Aubrey))

PJ and I refer to a church like this as one with “bones”. The original structure is intact and in good condition, and very importantly, not over-restored. We knew the church from pictures and reading about it, but were delighted to actually visit and photograph.

Location: Click this link to see the location on our custom Google Map.

8 responses to “A Gem in the Allier (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. I love photographing arches. There are of course more Mosques than churches here but beautiful arches just the same. The shot of the Ambulatory is wonderful…the side on crosses, the relief of Jesus, the light reflections….just stunning. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      • Thank you, I really do think I have the smoking habit kicked! The Agia Sofia is magnificent, with seemingly never ending photo opportunities. I have a couple of shots of it on my blog, although they won’t be as good as yours of course!!

      • To think that the Agia Sofia was consecrated in 360! Need to shoot the Church of the Holy Apostles. Need more time!!! Looked at your shots and realized how much I missed on my visit to Turkey.

      • Yes its amazing, I love Turkey’s rich and complex history! I particularly love the East as you may have noticed when you looked through my photos. The last time we passed through Mardin and Midyat, we didn’t have time to stop but on my list of places to see is the ‘Mor Gabriel Monastery’. Unlike the rest of the East, the churches in these areas have been preserved and not turned into Mosques. I hope you manage a trip to Turkey soon and look forward to the photos 🙂

    • Salvador, so nice to hear from you. I must check in to see more of your photos of the churches in Mexico. For those who are interested in the subject, please click on his link. Some wonderful work there.

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