Collegiale Church of Notre Dame of Mantes la Jolie!!

And this is going back to my former backyard in the Yvelines dept 78 of the Ïle de France region. I was several times in Mantes la Jolie as my oldest son went to specialized restaurant chef school there; once in the city walk around to see its monuments and found out this is also one of the Royal towns of France. Let me update for you and me this wonderful post on the beautiful Collegiale Church of Notre Dame of Mantes la Jolie !!! Hope you enjoy as I.


This is the farthest from Paris but also a Royal town of France. Why because king Henri IV in a letter to Gabrielle d’Estrées, his mistress, who resided in Mantes, the king wrote to her: “I come to Mantes, my Pretty” ,and so it stuck as Mantes-la-Jolie!  And we spent lots of time in the city because of its wonderful market, and the train line from Paris Saint Lazare for my oldest son restaurant/hostellerie studies in Mantes. Therefore, even if wrote before on the city, it really deserves to be written on its most beautiful emblem , the Notre Dame Church.


The Collegiale Church  Notre-Dame de Mantes-la-Jolie is a gothic Church of the 12C and 13C located in Mantes-la-Jolie, on the banks of the Seine river. The total length is about 68 meters and the length of the nave and choir about 58 meters; the total height of the towers is 61 meters. The collegiate Church of Notre-Dame consists, beyond the massif  facade, of a nave of seven arched bays of  warheads flanked by collateral vaulted with quadripartite warheads. The high nave is on three levels with large arches in broken arcs resting on an alternation of weak buttresses and strong pylons, arched grandstands of quadripartite warheads and broken cradles, and finally broken arch windows. The bedside, which supplements the composition, was not originally gifted with any Chapel. The radiant chapels, as well as those of the aisles, are additions to the 13C and 14C. The western façade is pierced by three large carved portals surmounted by a rose, crowned by two towers, the appearance of which was profoundly altered by 19C restorations.


The Collegiate Church Notre Dame of Mantes la Jolie  is one of the top 3 Churches of Île-de-France by its size and its seniority, one of the flagships of Gothic architecture  from the 12C and 13C. It is a simple nave, framed from a low side, without a Transept, which ends with an apse surrounded by an ambulatory and 9 radiant Chapels built in the 13C and 14C. The west-facing façade is pierced by 3 large carved gates surmounted by a rosary.


A bit of history I like

More than 800 years of history, begun towards 1150, it was completed towards 1350  after several work campaigns; the South tower was built towards 1250 and the North Tower by 1510. At its construction, the Collegiate Church reflected the power of the Capetian against the Norman Dukes. This rivalry explains the construction of a building of such imposing dimensions. Integrated into the defensive system of the city, it has been the subject of constant attention of the Royal family.  Philippe-Auguste himself will take charge and the title of Abbot of Mantes.  Built in the place of an ancient church attested before the 10C, the Collegiate Church was included within the walls of the Royal Castle of Mantes , which was destroyed in the 18C. Seat of the mighty Brotherhood of merchants known as the Assumption  in which the aldermen had traditionally been chosen, the Collegiate Church also possessed the title of Royal Chapel. The kings of France themselves or their closest relatives, up to Philip Augustus, were regularly appointed secular abbots of the Church. It was certainly under the joint impetus of the merchants and bourgeois of Mantes and the king of France that the reconstruction was decided and carried out from 1140. Where the heart of king Philippe Auguste was deposited while he died at the old castle now only some ramparts walls left. 

During the French revolution, the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame is severely damaged. In particular, numerous statues of the façade were mutilated in 1794. The central portal dedicated to the Virgin was damaged . The Church was then converted to a temple of reason , then became successively a factory of saltpeter and an Arsenal. After the signing of the Concordat in 1801, some emergency restoration work was carried out, an important restauration was carried out in the 19C as well. The restoration of the North tower is carried out from 1851 to 1855.

No archive has been kept on this subject; only the architectural analysis shows today the chronology of the construction. The 1st, which marks the beginning of the reconstruction, sees the setting up of a platform, destined to catch a gradient located in front of the facade of the old collegiate, and the foundation of the first level of facade wall of the new building. Destroyed, with the tom tom of 1794, only 4 heads were found in 1857. The eardrum set in 1180, strongly mutilated in the French revolution, represents in a style and iconography very close to those of Senlis Cathedral, the coronation of the Virgin surrounded, in the covings, by the tree of Jesse. The 2nd Construction campaign saw the buttresses of the high nave and the vaulting of the lower sides and the ambulatory set up very quickly. The 3rd phase of construction corresponds to the setting up of the grandstands throughout the Church, with the exception of the bays closest to the façade still under construction, and to the particular design of their vaulting. The setting up of the high-level windows and the high-nave vault towards 1200 marks the completion of the major work. The Church, partially unfinished, will be taken over 15 years later by the construction of the upper levels of the facade massif. It was towards 1220 that the façade was connected to the nave and the towers were elevated. Additions and modifications followed until the 14C the right portal, offered by the mayor and the aldermen, was installed towards 1300. Depicting scenes from the childhood of Christ and Passion; Radiant chapels were added to the choir between 1300 and 1325 . During the second half of the 14C, lateral chapels were installed on the southern flank of the Church, and large windows were arranged in the grandstands of the aisles of the nave, while the vaulting was altered.


Some important aspects to see while at the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame are:

The portal of the Resurrection in the west façade, is the oldest work of the Church. It was allegedly directed by 1150-1175 using white stone of Vernon or blonde of Ile de France by the workshops that worked in St Denis and Paris. This portal is dedicated to the resurrection of Christ. Sculpted in a more archaic style, it shows less technical mastery of the artist.

The portal of the Virgin, the main entrance of the Collegiate Church dedicated to Mary and her assumption. The portal of the Virgin is considered a masterpiece of Western sculpture. It consists of 2 sets designed to be 10 or 15 years apart. The lower part, below the level of the base of the lintel, had to be executed very shortly after the portal of the Resurrection. The whole upper part  vaulted and eardrum, is noticeably posterior.


The portal of the Aldermen, located to the right of the façade, this very richly decorated portal was built by 1300-1325  at the request of the aldermen of the city. It resembles its composition and style at the south portal of the Rouen Cathedral. It was severely damaged during the French revolution. It lost notably the statues of the jamb in the lower part and part of the decoration of the eardrum where the heads of the statues disappeared.

The highest gothic nave of the 12C with an elevation of the nave is divided into 3 floors of substantially equal height, the large arcades of the ground floor, those of the grandstands and finally the high windows. The layout of the nave is largely due to its 3 vaults of 6-pointed warheads , each embracing 2 spans. The tall Rosary of Mantes is one of the oldest in France. The oldest signs go back to the vicinity of 1210. It represents the Last Judgement. The central Oculus is occupied by a mandorla where the judge Christ sits, detaching himself on a blue background populated by red stars. He is surrounded by an angel choir whose winged busts come out of the clouds. The first circle, which obeys an axis of vertical symmetry, is that of angels and Intercessors. The blue background of the quad is opposed to the red on which the decorative rinses that complete each compartment are detached.


At the south side of the Church, the Chapel of Navarre or the rosary, is undoubtedly the most famous. It was founded in 1313 by the wish of Marie de Brabant, second wife of Philip III le Hardi. Her wish was to equip the Collegiate Church with two Chapels dedicated to Saint Paul and Saint Louis. It is a double chapel, the result of the meeting of two chapels between 1352 and 1364. Four 14C sculptures, saints and donor queens are affixed to the walls. Traces of polychrome and a set of fake red-seal fixtures on a white background are still visible today. The weapons of Navarre painted in red on a yellow background, are observed on some batteries. A piece of funerary slab was reused in the steps. It now celebrated from the initiative of Queen Jeanne of Evreux and of  France, Queen of Navarre, to have this Chapel called of Navarre in the 7th and 8th bays of the lower south side.

Some webpages that will help you plan your trip to this wonderful Collegiale Church of Notre Dame in Mantes, a detour is recommended, are:

The city of Mantes la Jolie on the church:

The Yvelines dept 78 tourist office on the Mantes’s Church:

The Catholic parish webpage on the Mantes’s Church:

There you go another gem of my belle France. It is easy does it from Paris Saint Lazare to Mantes la Jolie station at  place du 8 mai 1945 (not to take the Mantes Ville station) ,there are two here. On the road ,take the A13 out of Paris direction Rouen (autoroute de Normandie) exit/sortie 11. Follow signs for city center (centre ville), and will come to it.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: