auf wiedersehen Deutschland… bonjour France


Relaxed and refreshed after a day of ‘La Dolce Far Niente’ (Italian for the ‘sweetness of doing nothing’) in Wanderparkplatz Roßbergwiesen, it was time to push on through the Black Forest region of south-west Germany and head into France.

over the border from Germany and into France

over the border from Germany and into France

Crossing over into France in this instance, meant crossing the Rhine river. For once this was a more noticeable border between two countries sharing the same land mass. Change of landscape, change of Architectural styles, and of course a change of cuisine. Nothing nicer than to pick up a nice warm French baguette fresh from the bakery! 🙂

hmmm… French baguette, fresh from the bakery

hmmm… French baguette, fresh from the bakery

Today my plan was to revisit an iconic Architectural land mark by Le Corbusier that I had previously visited on an ill fated trip to the region. Unfortunately, along with my bus, the photos of the visit were consumed in the fire, along with everything else I had with me at the time! The Notre Dame du Haut or La Ronchamp Chapel by Franco-Swiss Architect Le Corbusier is a stunning piece of 20th-century modernist Architecture that I would happily visit anytime I was in the area, so really looking forward to seeing it again! 🙂

the stunning forms and facade of Le Corbusier’s masterpiece of Architecture, La Ronchamp Chapel

the stunning forms and facade of Le Corbusier’s masterpiece of Architecture, La Ronchamp Chapel

This must be the only building I’ve visited where I genuinely feel nervously excited about visiting it. It really is that inspiring a building (to me at least!). I’d made surprisingly good time on the road so arrived at Ronchamp earlier than I had anticipated. Not complaining as it gave me more time to wander around, soaking up the experience and also take in a guided tour of the building before wandering around on my own to explore it some more.

outside alter area for the annual pilgrimage service held in the open

outside altar area for the annual pilgrimage service held in the open

Built in the early 1950’s, the building is such a funky and exciting piece of Architecture to see and experience first hand. Photos really do not do it justice! The dramatic and distinctive concrete roof form was supposed to have been inspired by a crab Le Corbusier had once seen? To me, it looks like a pillow case gently billowing in the breeze…

how to mark your entrance and let the light into La Ronchamp Chapel

how to mark your entrance and let the light into La Ronchamp Chapel

Inside the interior is sparse and simple, conducive for contemplative meditation befitting a church building. The way light is introduced into the building is nothing short of spectacular, apart from some candles, there are no artificial lighting sources.

the simple, contemplative interior space of La Ronchamp chapel

the simple, contemplative interior space of La Ronchamp Chapel

There are two tall, north facing light towers that bring in consistent down light to key areas of the building, such as smaller side chapel areas.

the windows in one of the La Ronchamp light well towers

the windows in one of the La Ronchamp light well towers

The main interior sanctuary space is illuminated by the extraordinary array of seemingly irregular windows that pierce its thick external wall. Apparently, Le Corbusier insisted that the shapes and patterns were not arbitrary, but derived from a proportional system based on the Golden Section.

serene downlight altar in La Ronchamp

serene down light altar in La Ronchamp

The openings are angled towards their centres at varying degrees, letting in light at different angles. This glass used for the windows is sometimes clear but is often decorated with small pieces of stained glass in various colours. These stained pieces glow like jewels in the walls textured surface and produced an ethereal quality to the internal lighting of the main sanctuary space.

La Ronchamp stained glass with the words étoile du matin (bright morning star)

La Ronchamp stained glass with the words étoile du matin (bright morning star)

As you can probably tell, I really love this building! 🙂 Visiting it for the second time did not disappoint… I could easily visit this UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage building on a regular basis if it was a bit nearer!

keeping things simple… nice spot for the night

keeping things simple… nice spot for the night

Nothing like a bit of culture to stimulate a good appetite. It was sort of in-between time in terms of staying put or pushing on to somewhere new for the night, so I decided to stay locally for the night and do my best Jamie Oliver impression for the evening meal. After a great day, it was a nice way to relax and cook up a hot meal for the evening…

not quite Jamie Oliver’s kitchen on the road, but it should keep me going

not quite Jamie Oliver’s kitchen on the road, but it should keep me going

I broke out my double Trangia cooker set up and made a hearty Chilli with wholemeal basmati rice meal for the evening 🙂

chilli and basmati rice… that touched the spot nicely

chilli and basmati rice… that touched the spot nicely

Good job it turned out alright as I made enough to last a couple of days! #FirstWorldProblems

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