The Church St Girons of Monein!

I like to take you off the beaten path of my belle France Lots of popular places ,but this one is in deep France! I like to update this older post on the wonderful town of Monein and its Church St Girons ! Hope you enjoy it as I,

The town of Monein is in the department 64 of the Pyrénées Atlantique in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.  The best way for me to get there is on the A64 highway (Toulouse-Bayonne); Exit 9 Artix at 11 km.  Monein counted a secular abbey from the 12C, a vassal of the viscounty of Béarn. King Henry IV dubbed Monein ,the Paris of Béarn!!!  The Church Saint-Girons dates from the 15C and 16C. It is the largest Gothic church in the  Béarn. It houses a frame built 50 meters long and 18 meters in height, in the form of a double hull of an overturned vessel, Here was the old bishophery from the 6C and from the 10C a  baptistry dedicated to Saint-John-the Baptist.  Later a repenting soldier built a chapel , “Loup-Fort”,where it was dedicated to Saint Mary. I like to tell you a bit more on the Church Saint Girons.

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The dimensions of the new church would be proportional to the richness of the village; The Church Saint-Girons measures more than 61 meters long, 16 meters wide and 31 meters high. It is larger than the two cathedrals of the Béarn region!!. The construction began in 1464 and ended in 1530. For 70 years, the inhabitants financed the work through numerous taxes and built the building with their own hands. But the realization of the remarkable structure of the imposing Church Saint-Girons was entrusted, from 1464, to the Cagots,( groups of semi-nomadic inhabitants) these men who, despite their extraordinary know-how, lived completely excluded from society.

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Its originality lies in its exceptional frame, entirely in the heart of oak, which comes in the form of a double hull of unsymmetrical inverted vessel. This frame of more than 50 meters long can be visited after the ascent of 72 steps under the huge slate roof. Unique work in France by its seniority, its virtuosity and its tremendous dimensions. Particularly ,the famous double-sloped roof concealing a real treasure . In the heart of oak needed, the cutting of a thousand trees of which 70% of the original wood would be preserved. The whole is supported by an astonishing superposition of St. Andrew’s Cross, aligned vertically on top of each other until the height of the Church. The whole is brought to light by a sound and light. The porch houses a Renaissance-style portal. Inside, you will notice the altarpiece of the 18C and the organ of the 17C. A Church of  over 300 years,  a rare and masterful ensemble to visit.

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The Queen of Navarre, Jeanne of Albret, transformed the church into a Protestant temple stripping of her furniture and threatened to destroy it in the face of the hostility of the population, which remained Catholic. It was nevertheless spared and returned to the Catholic cult when it was restored by the Edict of Integration of Béarn promulgated by King Louis XIII of France (who was still at that time also Louis I of Navarre). The Church was once again furnished and still retains baroque furniture, including a large altarpiece and 17C with a Toulouse organ.  The Church Saint-Girons was restored at the end of the 20C and until the beginning of the 21C, and its framing is today a tourist attraction highlighted by an animation of sound and light.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip are :

The city of Monein on its heritagehttps://www.monein.fr/la-ville/histoire-et-patrimoine/le-patrimoine-bati/

The cœur de Béarn tourist office on the churchhttps://www.coeurdebearn.com/en/heritage/the-church-of-st-girons-and-its-timber-roof.html

The Friends of the organ of the church in Moneinhttp://orguemonein.fr/index_039.htm

The organs of Béarn on the organ of the church of Monein: http://www.bearn-des-orgues.fr/monein_024.htm

There you go folks, a very nice Church St Girons, not expecting to see the beauty here really.  A wonderful area of the old Béarn region of France with many beauties to see. I hope you like this post as I and do come down into the beautiful region of Monein.

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

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