Archive for August 8th, 2020

August 8, 2020

Merlevenez: Church Notre-Dame-de-Joie!

And I will be around the beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France for the next posts. I have look deep into my blog ,and found many posts needed a refresher and just went out to get new pictures! My road warrior template got me going and having a blast with the boys on each town. The Morbihan rocks!

Merlevenez, this town is located between Plouhinec and Nostang. It borders the ria of Etel on 3 km from the village of Kergo to the pond of Rhodes. A legend has the origin of the name Merlevenez. It speaks of a long married and still childless Lord who promised a chapel to the Virgin if he got one. He obtained a girl who filled him with joy and then built the Church of Merlevenez or the daughter of joy. Today, it is the community of towns of Blavet Bellevue Océan, with Kervignac, Nostang, Plouhinec and Sainte-Hélène. It is in fact on its municipality that is located the seat.

Hope you enjoy my tour of Merlevenez and the Church Notre Dame de Joie!


The Notre-Dame-de-Joie Church from the 12-15C  of the town of Merlevenez  is one of the most beautiful monuments of Romanesque art in Bretagne. It measures 38 meters by 12 meters. It is built on the foundations of a chapel built by the Templars.  The construction began in the 11C and continued in the 12C. Towards the end of the 14C a bell tower was erected on the square of the transept, which was restored in 1533, after being shot by lightning. The structure of the Choir was laid in 1410. Finally, in the 19C, a sacristy was built to the east of the south brace.


The nave, which comprises five spans, communicates with the aisles by large third-point double-roller arches, resting on cruciform piles, confined to their four sides by engaged columns. The northeast corner of the transept’s north brace is the oldest part of the building, and may date from the first half of the 11C. The square, whose arches and supports are from the 12C, was vaulted in the 14C  by an eight-branched arch of warheads resting on contemporary tubes of supports.  The south brace, which could not be said to have been completed by a chapel like the north brace, presents a curious peculiarity with three arched arches, two of which are blind, against the west wall and supporting a massive masonry protruding on the bare wall, given the impression of a veneer and could have supported a tribune, destined for the organ buffet.  The primitive Choir, from the 11C, probably had to have a straight span completed by a circular apse, but from the 12C it was transformed into a flat-bedded choir, as it is today.


The outside of the Church Notre Dame de Joie is quite simple. The front with an acute gable, is supported by high, unsealing buttresses, between which opens a porch, plated in the 13C, crowned with a triangular pediment whose entablature is ripped off by the upper part of the archivolt. The southern porch, opening onto the cross brace, cushioned by a straight ledge resting on sculpted modillions. The steeple, which rises on the square of the transept, is one of the prettiest in the region. On a Romanesque style, in the 14C, an opened octagonal floor was elevated to the four cardinal points of twined bays, and decorated on each of the intermediate panels of tri libelous blind armatures. The octagonal arrow that rises above it has been redone after 1533, but on the exact model of the old one. A screw staircase in a polygonal turret climbs up to the tower gallery.

Merlevenez ch Notre Dame de Joie back side aug20

The nave has three aisles and five barlong plan spans, covered with framework. High arcades with double broken rollers separate the central nave from the aisles which are narrower. The cruciform piles are supported on all four sides by half-columns. The window was equipped with a dome on horns, which remain despite the replacement of the dome by a ribbed vault with eight compartments during the erection of the bell tower. The exceptional series of historiated capitals offers a rich figurative repertoire: hybrid monsters, martyrs, acrobats and wrestlers, hunting scene, vices and punishments.

The town of Merlevenez on the church here: Town of Merlevenez on the Church Notre Dame de Joie

The Blavet Bellevue Océan agglomeration tourist office on the Merlevenez heritage here:  The Blavet Bellevue Océan tourist office on Merlevenez heritage

This is one of those town, you passed every day by it but hardly ever stop. Well have done that for the benefit of my blog and my readers. Merlevenez is not a tourist town but a rest stop would be fine in its city center by the church. It is historical for sure locally and has nice architecture which I like. Hope it helps.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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