the french country church

by Sharon Santoni
In most French country villages you will find a village church although attendance is less regular than before. In our village the local curé or priest runs a rota and conducts a service in one of four different  churches each Sunday.   We love to see this old architecture, still fiercely protected, although not always easy to maintain.
The church I am showing you today is particularly lovely for its remote setting in deepest Normandy; its tranquil surrounding and the simple yet rich decor inside.

The church doors were opened especially for me and my camera, since I thought you may like to have a look around with me.  Most churches are kept locked these days for fear of theft.

 This little church was built between 1732 and 1736, it has lovely a round top to its tower, hiding two large bells, who chime every hour, no doubt so the cows know when it is milking time.
 I couldn’t believe these beautiful chandeliers, in such a tiny church,
  contributed by a local patron.
This beautiful hand stencilled ceiling is quite unusual and was painted  by a normandy artist half a century ago.   Unfortunately it is in danger because the roof of the church is in bad need of repair.   As water leaks beneath the tiles, the wooden ceiling will eventually rot away.

The tiny farming community is currently trying to collect funds for repairs.   If you are interested in contributing to this project, just drop me a line and I’ll give you the details.

 I took as much pleasure walking around the tiny cemetery and admiring the view as I had done inside.

And as I left the church, I had to pull over to the side of the road to let these lovely ladies find their way home for tea – french country life at its simply best.

Hope you liked the tour!


Curtains in My Tree March 6, 2013 - 3:38 pm

Oh I loved the tour,
The church is so beautiful and gorgeous inside.
Made me feel closer to God just seeing the pictures. That is so much more spiritual than our modern churches that turn the sanctuary into a basketball court after service (my church)

The chandeliers was breath taking , how I would love to worship in a church like that

Tara Dillard March 6, 2013 - 3:50 pm

Sir Roy Strong wrote a book about the English Country churches. Same story.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

~ Lisa ~ March 6, 2013 - 3:59 pm

Oh how I would love to come and stay in your house and visit…. lovely pictures. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and your part of where you live for those of us in the United States that will probably NEVER get to visit.

~ Lisa from Indiana ~

hopflower March 6, 2013 - 4:02 pm

Yes, it is beautiful and so typical of European churches. It is something how much has changed regarding religious services. A lot of churches are converted now into something else; like a museum of some sort. At one time it was part of a daily way of life.

Wendy Sice March 6, 2013 - 4:18 pm

Beautiful building and grounds – just gorgeous!

Eleanor March 6, 2013 - 4:35 pm

Absolutely stunning!
Thank you for sharing!

christina @ greige March 6, 2013 - 4:57 pm


Beautiful as always.. Love the cows!!


Susan March 6, 2013 - 6:05 pm

Thanks for sharing – I loved seeing this church!

CÉLINE CHOLLET March 6, 2013 - 6:09 pm

Merci Sharon pour ce tour dans cette charmante église ! Alors toi aussi tu aimes ces endroits : très petite église, bien meublée d'autels d'époque, broderies et plafonds peints, cimetière autour avec une belle vue… C'était déjà mon plaisir à 15 ans d'aller fouiner dans les clochers des petits villages bourguignons !

Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon March 6, 2013 - 6:11 pm

Lovely post today. I am surprised by how green it is so early in the season.

btw, I poked through your recipes today. So many tempting me. I want to make the crumble dessert. This looks like something my family would love. Thank you for the detailed instructions. I would have packed the crumble instead of letting it be light and airy.

Lorrie March 6, 2013 - 6:11 pm

Thanks for taking us along on the tour. How wonderful to have the space to yourself. In one of my wild fantasies, I have the run of Versailles to myself, without any other tourists around.

donna baker March 6, 2013 - 6:39 pm

How sad a church has to keep its doors locked. It is a beautiful church and countryside.

Linda March 6, 2013 - 7:40 pm

Lovely photos today, thank you. I am always surprised at the serenity that I feel when inside one of these petite village churches.
We once joined a tour "le monument" and visited very beautiful and very old churches near our farm house. Within only 25km we visited nearly dozen of the regions oldest churches and learned their history from a scholar, Stephane Abadie, from the University in Toulouse.
I have a entry about this tour on my blog; with a few photos, too.

Julie March 6, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Such a simple post, but probably one of my favorites. I've been abroad 3 times (England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France (twice), Italy (twice)) and this is what I miss the most. The simple every day life. Thank you for sharing. It made my day!

Julie March 6, 2013 - 7:46 pm

Wouldn't that be something! : )

Anonymous March 6, 2013 - 7:47 pm

What a beautiful post today. Staying at your lovely home and shopping for brocante in the flea markets is one of the items on my bucket list. I always enjoy reading your blog. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jan ~ Kentucky, USA

Desire Empire March 6, 2013 - 9:59 pm

Sharon I always found it remarkable that the smallest villages had churches as beautiful as some of the biggest and most elegant cathrals in central Sydney. As France is purported to be the birth of Christianity outside the Middle East is it any wonder the churches are so majestic. To be honest I enjoyed very much just sitting in the pews and getting all spiritual.

Katherine March 6, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Look at that beautiful pew and the worn stone in the thresh hold of the doorway. I am always fascinated when I see something with this much history, just thinking about how many hands have touched the wood, how many people have knelt and prayed.
The sad part is that even places of worship have to be locked so that people don't steal anything.
Just looking at the building you can hear the church bells chiming.

The enchanted home March 6, 2013 - 11:44 pm

I feel blessed just looking at the pictures!1 What a beautiful, charming and idyllic setting. There is nothing more quaint than a gorgeous old village church. Love this…absolutely magical.

Helene S March 6, 2013 - 11:45 pm

thank you for the pictures. Always lovely to see the world through your eyes.
I remember when i went to live for a few years in Canada and many visits to the state. It took me some time but after a while i realized what "felt" so different, than France in the landscape. The absence of "clochers". It's not something you really think about but they are in every village and city. (ils rythment le paysage : sorry couldn't think of the translation this late!) Whereas in North America, you don't have that rythm. It's weird once you noticed it, you can't help but miss it!
Also, My father was a baroque chapel art restaurateur in the alps (savoie) /the art is magnificent/. But there has been a massive (no understatement there!) wave of theft in the 70's and 80's of every piece that had any kind of value. Even benches, floors, because at that time, France hadn't really started caring about the "small churches and chapels" not the "historic monuments" and left them to decay slowly. It's in the mid 80's and 90's that they started to realized they had some value too. Many churches and chapels are now closed if they don't have a good way to protect themselves.
I'm not a believer but they are such a big part of our culture!
Thanks for showing one of them to the world!

Yvonne @ StoneGable March 7, 2013 - 12:31 am

Perfectly wonderful. I would love to worship in this darling country church! Can you imagine all the dear souls that have passed through there? Beautiful post and photography!

Myra March 7, 2013 - 12:46 am

Your little corner of the world is truly wonderful! I look forward to a "mini vacation" with each and every post!

Mol C. Nichols March 7, 2013 - 3:57 am

We're living our french country fantasy thru you, thank you for sharing

Coty Farquhar March 7, 2013 - 5:07 am

Beautiful Sharon! x

Jeannine March 7, 2013 - 6:04 am

Thank you for showing us the most beautiful church!! If only the walls could speak. It is so beautiful in your part of the world….France. I love it! I so look forward to your posts they are wonderful!!

Anonymous March 7, 2013 - 6:59 am

Merci Sharon…To live without Faith, the true Faith, as there is only one True Faith is not to have lived at all. One can see how important this Faith was to the French people as they showered it with all the beauty they could afford as it was God's house.
I converted to the true Faith 60 years ago and it is the greatest gift in my life. When Vat. II removed the true mass we all went into the desert. Nearly 20 years ago we found the Tridentine mass once again and finally Pope Benedict XVI told the world it had never ever been abrogated. To hear a High Mass is to be as close to heaven as one can get on this earth.
If God should will that I visit France I pray that I may also see this gracious church raised by the poor faithful to give glory to God. It truly makes one thankful to see such beauty and that the Faithful are still taking care of their church.
Merci encore Sharon.
With fortitude,
Sylvia Faye

Debbie March 7, 2013 - 7:09 am


You are so lucky to live in such a tranquil, beautiful region. Enjoyed the tour.


PamLuvsPink March 7, 2013 - 9:25 am

Hi Sharon!!

I love old buildings that have been around for hundreds of years.
The shape the wood work inside is remarkable. I know what you mean
by walking around a grave site, looking at all the old dates.


Anonymous March 7, 2013 - 11:56 am

What magnicifant photos and the stories they tell! The countryside is gorgeous as is the beauty of this quaint old church with its stone walls and flooring. Even the cemetary is charming and I noticed the date of death on the gentleman's gravestone was on my first birthday. It is very easy to picture all the past generations of people attending services in their very finest garb, the church being the center of the village. Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures of times past and present; this was a lovely journey!

Pat F.
Las Vegas, NV USA

Karen (Back Road Journal) March 7, 2013 - 2:52 pm

I am so happy that the church was unlocked for you so that you could share its lovely interior. I'm always amazed to see these churches in small villages…how hard it must have been to pay for their construction by the people of the village.

Anonymous March 7, 2013 - 3:23 pm

I would be interested to donate a few dollars to the roof fund if you could post that information.
Something so lovely must be taken care of.
Thank you.

Building la Maison March 7, 2013 - 3:41 pm

Thank you for the lovely pictures. I was very moved by seeing these. I would love to donate to the cause of caring for it.

Robyn (

Jentwyn March 7, 2013 - 4:15 pm

I love love love your blog. I dream of visiting foreign lands, france being on my list and anywhere else in europe. I feel stuck in the U.S. and your pictures help me escape. Thank you!

betsy March 7, 2013 - 5:13 pm

Absolutely stunning. An irreplaceable treasure. I hope it able to be saved for alltime.

peggy braswell March 7, 2013 - 5:43 pm

So beautiful! i adore visiting churches + the quiet + sitting in a pew. Thank you for the peek.

Colleen Taylor March 7, 2013 - 6:19 pm

What a beauty Sharon. This reminds me of some of the old churches in farming communities where I grew up in the US. I can smell the incense right through my monitor. There's something so peaceful about all of this & oh how I would love to see this in person. Beautiful photos and thank you. XO

Anonymous March 8, 2013 - 4:15 am

i am so very glad the Americans liberated France so they are not speaking German, selling beer steins and eating sausages. But you never ever never see anything about that or all the brave soliders in graves on forgein soil that gave them their lives back. This post brought back thought of those times. But my generation remembers those brave souls who gave all for people they never knew but that's what we Americans do.We restore liberty and then leave. It is funny to me that people all around the world dream of coming to America and the French dream of France or so it seems. and no i am not angry just looking at things without rose colored glasses. but your pics are lovely and good luck on the roof of the church. it should be saved at all cost

Debbie March 9, 2013 - 6:03 am

Churches and gravesites can be both beautifull and sad. Years ago while lining up to get a visa for France at the French embassy/consulate in Los Angeles I was surprised to see the posters celebrating the liberation of France. It was like a huge "thank you" to America. On the AOM flight to Paris, yes this was quite a few years back, the inflight magazine was all about the liberation and the joy the French felt. It was a bicentary celebration.
There are sacred places in France where the Americans and their allies fought and died. Commemorations take place each year. The local French people take part in these rememberance services. These brave soldiers are not forgotten. More and more ex soldiers from both sides of wars that now seem long ago, are getting together to heal the wounds that cannot be seen.


Susan Brennan March 9, 2013 - 7:54 am

I purchased my first piece if cow art in Paris in Le Marais- I was drawn to the beauty and simple serenity – my trips to Paris range from the city to Crillon at the base of Mt Ventiux to Gorge and every church in between- they all have a unique feeling, architecture and history/ one would think there are too many until you arrive abc realize there are not enough!!! Thank you for sharing thus beautiful historical salute to the town and people who love abc worship it do dearly!

Alison @ BaysideVintage March 9, 2013 - 8:18 am

Fantastic tour, what a beautiful and precious place – thank you for capturing & sharing. Alison

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The GREEN Connecticut Realtor March 10, 2013 - 5:15 pm

This beautiful church reminds me of the one in my ancestral village of Tourouvre (in the Perche region.) Sadly when we arrived to visit it, they had just begun a funeral service and we were not permitted to enter. The museum of the Percheron Emigration to Canada was fantastic though 🙂

PREM SINGH March 11, 2013 - 10:04 am

Hi Sharon!!
i really Love your scrap quilt.
Kitchen designs

vnv4 March 11, 2013 - 9:08 pm

I loved the brick floor; what a lovely church!

Anonymous March 12, 2013 - 9:39 am

What is the name of the beautiful church?
Thank you for the lovely photos.
Truth, Beauty and the grace of Simplicity are the greatest forms of communication

Evelyn Christian April 29, 2014 - 5:04 pm

so enjoy your beautiful blog, start each day wih a big cup of coffee and your pictures..every one is your dogs too…the spring pics are especially helpful as here in Canada we are quite behind…the church pics are moving and remind us of a simpler, kinder time!!

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