By Marie Sherlock
If you look up the phrase “the arches of France,” the Google Gods will reveal a number of famous “arcs” for you: The Arc de Triomphe in Paris (of course!). The Porte du Peyrou in Montpellier, Bordeaux’ Porte de Bourgogne. The Arc de Triomphe d’Orange.
They are grand. They are elegant. They are splendiferous spectacles.
But they are not my tasse de thé.
I much prefer the humble, sometimes crumbling vaults, passageways, and tunnels of small French towns. While a few are stunning works of art, many are simply functional – yet still somehow, IMHO, magical.
I didn’t even realize that I had an attachment to these architectural features until I was assembling several blogs on The Doors of France. As I scrolled through hundreds of photos taken during four treks to France (over the past seven years), I came across dozens of these haunting, medieval arches.
I haven’t been able to find much information on these facets of medieval architecture, outside their use in places of worship. I think that they were mainly functional, that they served as supports for the buildings they connected and for the covered passageways they reinforced.
I’m going to post photos of these evocative architectural features by town. (These are small French villages where I found an abundance of arched passageways, tunnels, and corridors.) Enjoy!
Bargème is one of the plus beaux villages of Provence. It is also blessed with myriad stunning arches. Here are just a few of them. I’ll post arches from other French towns in separate blogs over the next few weeks.