A First Look at the Ardèche (Dennis Aubrey)


We write today from a beautiful but somewhat remote part of France, among the independent and practical spirits of the Bas-Vivarais region of the Ardèche. Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé said of these people, “Ils ne sont pas grands théoriciens d’abstractions.” “They are not great theorists of abstractions.”

Map of the Ardèche

Map of the Ardèche

It may be true, what Vogüé said, and he would have known, having lived among the Ardèchiens for his entire life, but we find the area absolutely fascinating, full of natural wonders, fine fruits and wines, and kindly people. We also found a friend.

PJ and I made plans to meet up with Nathan Mizrachi, known to readers of Via Lucis as the author of his Life is a Camino site. Nathan is in the midst of a year-long journey in Europe where he walked the Compostela pilgrimage route and has drunk deeply from the European well. He is spending the week with us photographing the churches that are the original reason for our vist to this region.

Nathan on the Camino

Nathan on the Camino

The churches are small, fairly well preserved, and filled with small touches of genius. I won’t comment any more, but let the buildings speak for themselves.

Abbatiale Sainte-Marie de Cruas, Cruas (Ardèche)  Photo by PJ McKey

Abbatiale Sainte-Marie de Cruas, Cruas (Ardèche) Photo by PJ McKey

Église Saint Pierre, Larnas (Ardèche)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Église Saint Pierre, Larnas (Ardèche) Photo by Dennis Aubrey


Église Saint Pierre, Larnas (Ardèche)  Photo by PJ McKey

Église Saint Pierre, Larnas (Ardèche) Photo by PJ McKey

Chevet with lombard bands, Église Notre Dame de Thines, Thines (Ardèche)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Chevet with lombard bands, Église Notre Dame de Thines, Thines (Ardèche) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Capital, Église Notre Dame de Thines, Thines (Ardèche)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Capital, Église Notre Dame de Thines, Thines (Ardèche) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Chapelle Saint Benoit, Chassiers (Ardèche)  Photo by PJ McKey

Chapelle Saint Benoit, Chassiers (Ardèche) Photo by PJ McKey

To demonstrate that Nathan hasn’t been just loafing around, here is a shot of his from Cruas.

Crypt, Abbatiale Sainte-Marie de Cruas, Cruas (Ardèche) Photo by Nathan Mizrachi

Crypt, Abbatiale Sainte-Marie de Cruas, Cruas (Ardèche) Photo by Nathan Mizrachi

In a few days, Nathan resumes his peregrinations through Europe via Carcassonne while PJ and I continue to the Provence, familiar territory but filled with some of the finest Romanesque churches in France. We’ll post on that next week when we get a chance.

12 responses to “A First Look at the Ardèche (Dennis Aubrey)

    • Thines was especially spectacular Helen! So are Dennis and PJ, of course. I can’t comment too much since they have me under a nondisclosure agreement on pain of sleeping otuside (kidding of course), but stay tuned, we’re onto something big here.

  1. I live near Ardeche and I thank your for your Photos : they translate the soul of these churches.
    France is very rich of religious architecture, and your are nice to make it know to a large audience
    Chantal

  2. I was surprised to read the name of de Vogüé here – I’m presently translating a book of short stories by him, and had presumed nobody knew of him. He wrote them after his time in Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. And I was pleased to be reminded of Ardèche because of my time in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Favourite photo: Abbatiale Sainte Marie de Cruas. Magnificent.

    • WOB, it is certainly available by public transportation, but internally, going from church to church, almost impossible. It is transected by mountains and deep valleys – gorgeous, but hard to get to. In the case of the church of Thines – perhaps a bicycle!

  3. Gorgeous images. Well done to you both. If anyone doubts the value of digital humanities, these images would dispel those doubts! The little church of Saint Pierre at Larnas seems a real find. But I’m intrigued by the enormous western raised choir at Sainte-Marie de Cruas. Looking forward to the revelations from Notre Dame de Thines.

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