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Travelogue D11

May 27, 2015

Farther along the medieval streets, I made a sharp right and paused for a moment beneath an arch. Before me stretched a medieval courtyard of considerable proportions, though closed off on all sides and the backdoor of a bakery ajar in one wall. The signage, nearly lost in the contrast between sun and shade, made it understood that I found myself within the bounds of the Maison du Chamarier. One 15th century member of this line of church dignitaries had raised these particular quarters to meet his everyday needs as master of justice, safety and roads. Though I could with sufficient time and self-deception bring myself to see Christian humility in the house’s mix of Renaissance and flamboyant Gothic stylings, the truth proves simpler and the whole rather bewitching in its opulence.

The old well in the corner niche exercises a certain power over the onlooker as do the textured glass of the windows and the open-air arches and passages of the upper levels. Yet, upon stepping back and pivoting, I had eyes for little else than the central stairwell whose outer walls jut into the courtyard and swim with architectural motifs so varied that it is a wonder they hold together for the eye. Raised swooping lines and curls bedeck the lower level, above which the viewer finds a level more refined, the fourfold windows trimmed in stone frills and feathers and surmounted by a cathedral in miniature, perhaps a representation of city or church. Behind the miniature’s columns and Gothic fittings, I half expected to find a small congregation unseen from this angle. The whole is topped by a rather more restrained level, regularities alone in its stones, panes and casements.

Interestingly, the height of the stairwell is bounded by a sectioned column, likewise in three. Apart from this partition, the column does not otherwise respect the ordering laid out by stair and separates by means of an austere, hexagonal section the fluted bottom from the twisted top. I spent no small time imagining myself at work on the helical section above, unravelling and peeling the entwined flutes from one another.

 

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