The French department of the Saône-et-Loire may be the epicenter of French Romanesque architecture. The great Benedictine abbey of Cluny dominated the region and spawned hundreds of abbey and parish churches, many of which survive to this day. One of the finest is the yellow-stoned Église Saint Marcel in Iguérande, which overlooks the valley below the small village.
This church dates from the end of the 11th century and beginning 12th century and both the interior and exterior of the church were completely (and well) restored in 1978-1979.
This nave shot shows the three bays with rounded arches and the banded barrel vault, which is typical of the Cluniac style of Romanesque. It is interesting that there are no light sources in the nave, but the high arcades let in enough light from the windows of the side aisles to brightly illuminate the church.
There are two side aisles with groin vaults, which allow for large windows that provide the only illumination in the body of the church. These side aisles terminate in chapels that flank the apse. The chapels are approached by an opening through the transept.
The church has an interesting apse configuration – a crossing with the two transepts, the choir and then the choir apse with an oven vault. The choir has a lovely painted barrel vault.
Over the crossing there is an octagonal cupola on squinches that supports the square crossing tower. On the left side of the shot is the painted vault of the choir.
This is a lovely church in the Brionnais countryside, well worth a visit if you are in the area. And if you are interested in seeing more churches that we have featured in this blog, select this link.