Follow us throughout our medieval streets
St Michel Church
The church as the Val des Nymphes Chapel, were placed under the authority of the benedictine monastery of St Philibert of Tournus. Initially (1119) it served as chapel to the local fortress, but when the inhabitants started leaving the Val des Nymphes site, to settle down closer to the village, it became the parish church.
The present building dates back to the second half ofthe12thcentury.
In 1540 the church and the chapel of the Val des Nymphes depended upon the Monastery of Grignan. Despite serious financial problems both buildings were rather well preserved but nevertheless underwent some major repairs in 1849 and 1850 thanks to Prosper Mérimée, then in charge of French historical edifices.
The church architectural style is typical of a number of medieval churches in Provence It draws its inspiration from Antiquity. A remarkable feature of this church is the existence of two apsides opposite each other.
The western one, quite unusual in Provence, is reminiscent of Carolingian architecture. It is supposed
to respond to the precepts of Easter liturgy.
Although the church is comparatively small, the visitor, once inside, is struck by an impression of height that is conveyed by the vertical lines of its pillars that are devoid of any architectural ornaments. The nave is an arched vault with aisles on both sides that leads to a semi circular apsis and two cul-de-four-shaped apsidioles.
The final bay is surmounted by an octagonal cupola supported by cone-shaped squinches. The stones sometimes show the stonecutters’ distinctive signs as well as some names like Peturs which is the most recognizable one.
The western façade is adorned with a remarkable axial window in the romanesque style inspired by Antiquity. The architectural style of the church tower is also reminiscent of the style of ancient constructions. It is an octagonal tower with two storeys of arcades but only the lower storey, in spite
of many alterations, retains some romanesque architectural elements. The upper storey and its pointed steeple were built as recently as 1850.
As he walks into the church, the visitor will notice two relics from Roman times: on the left a tombstone bearing the initials D and M (Diis Manibus) and on the right an altar dedicated to the Mother Nymphs that was found in the Val des Nymphes, just like the main altar.
The two chapels in the northern part of the church were restored in 2000. In the first one, the visitor will see a 12thcentury statue of The Virgin Mary, Notre Dame du Bon Secours, presented to Reverend Girard in 1944 by the Monastery of Aiguebelle.
Above the baptismal font, the stain glass window dating back to 1943, shows Adhémar de Monteil, bishop of Le Puy. He was a papal legate at the time of the first crusade and is shown here having the crusaders sing a Salve Regina that he is said to have composed.
The Chapel of the Penitents
Two old medieval houses were brought together in 1629 and the new building became a place of worship and a place of gathering for the Confrérie (brotherhood) of the Pénitents Blancs. An old romanesque twin window can still be seen on the western wall. A fresco that may have been painted in the 18thcentury on the far-end wall shows two penitents in prayer and wearing their distinctive traditional hood
Le Val des Nymphes
Two kilometers down the road, the Val des Nymphes, situated in a cool and shadowy dale, displays an aura of mystery that has always fascinated the wanderer. In Gallo-Roman times, the site and its many springs was a place of worship in honour of various goddesses. In the Middle Ages it became a dwelling place.Today the beautiful12th-century romanesque chapel is what remains of the priory that was placed under the authority of Tournus Abbey. The church was barely standing in the 19thcentury, but it was rehabilitated in 1991. Today it is used as a concert hall in summer.