Road Trip, Day 6

A soggy cow came over to say hello, and began using the barbed wire to scratch an itch on her throat. She was very curious about me.

This morning we awoke to a grey and drizzly day. After breakfast, we checked out of our chambres-d’hotes (B&B), and bid each other goodbye. Maryse and Claude were headed west to visit friends, and I was headed east to higher—and it turns out, even wetter—ground. An hour later I arrived in Le Mont Dore, in the Puy-de-Dôme. With the wet weather and low clouds, I really have no idea what the surrounding country looks like. Except that it’s green.

Today I drove to Le Mont Dore in the Puy-de-Dôme.

I decided that since I was early to check into my hotel, and I wasn’t especially hungry for lunch, that I’d make the drive to nearby Orcival to see Notre Dame d’Orcival, a stunning example of medieval church architecture. It’s one of five basilicas built in this region at about the same time, early in the 12th century, and all five of the huge structures were completed very quickly; Notre Dame d’Orcival took only 32 years to build, a remarkable accomplishment (1146-1178). It was big enough that it never needed to be enlarged, so the church remains largely as it was nearly 900 years ago (aside from some 15th-century earthquake damage).

I’m hoping to join a tour of the basilica tomorrow, so I’ll only include here a few photos of interesting things I noticed as I walked around on my own.

The stately Basilique Notre Dame d’Orcival.
One of a pair of doors in the main entry, made of cedar and dating to before 1300. The iron ornamentation shown in detail below features various combinations of humans and animals These doors are huge, and I had to make the photo above in two parts, so I apologize for the funky look.
Close-ups of the iron details on the doors: a snake on the left and a man on the right.
I’ve seen stone masons’ marks in many places, but never so prominently as in this basilica. Masons were paid according to how many stones they produced, so each mason had his own mark that he inscribed in each completed stone. The foreman would count the number of stones each day, and that total determined the mason’s pay.
One of many intriguing column capitals. I have no idea what this represents—if you do, please let me know!
My cow friend, when she first walked out of the mist toward me.

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