After some lingering, themonks of the Abbey of St Bertin gave permission for the construction of the church of Notre Dame, which started in 1223. The edifice as it stands today is the result of several building campaigns extending from the 13th to the 17th century. It was the English who completed its construction; they extended the church with a chevet and also constructed the transept, the bays of the choir and the bell tower.
This church owes its originality to the mixture of styles, for it is probably the only church in continental Europe in Tudor style. The church’s exterior resembles the cathedrals of Winchester, Rochester and Gloucester, and does not have any counterforts or flying buttresses contrary to most French cathedrals. At the crossing of the transept and the nave, a massive tower, resembling a fortress, supports the belfry, a remarkable example of medieval architecture. In 1691, at the behest of French King Louis XIV, Vauban constructed a cistern with a capacity of 1800 m3 on the north side of the nave which served to collect rainwater from the roof of the church in order to meet the needs of the garrison and the population in anticipation of a siege or in case of a drought. In order to withstand projectiles the walls are 2 metres thick in some places and up to 4 metres thick at the keystones. Nowadays, this church owes its fame to the marriage celebrated in 1921 between Charles de Gaulle and Yvonne Vendroux. In addition, the church is situated on the Via Francigena, the pilgrimage route between Canterbury and Rome.
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