False Gargoyles removed from Church of Notre Dame of Dijon after fatal accident

Early evening in Dijon France is as inspiring as the early morning. Our adventure started out seeking a wee bite of sustenance. Following what-has-become-after-three-days our usual path, we enter the far side of Park Darcy and follow the path to the top by the trees.

top area of Park Darcy warm April evening  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 008

We walk along the top of the fountain and I stop to sigh a small regret as I had hoped to spend the afternoon painting from this vantage point.

Park Darcy view from above the fountain by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 012

Instead I spent most of the day in the Dijon Fine Arts Museum which was wonderful but meant no time for painting. I shall keep this photography sketch for later reference.

The April light in Dijon already has the harsh sharp contrasts that I generally associate with summer on the west coast of Canada. The sun is warm but the shade is still cool. Though we were in just our light sweaters, others had layered up in winter coats.

April Evening on The Streets of Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 020

We eventually found a plat du jour to our liking and after including a glass of wine, a shared peach tart and expresso doppio I convinced David we should go find that great church we had seen on our first walk through the city when we had been looking for the Les Halles market. The last light was leaving golden trails across the tops of the building and I wanted to pocket a little of that to take home with us.

It is the Church of Notre Dame of Dijon that we were seeking and it was just around a couple of corners and a little more to the north from where we had dinner. Let’s see. Yes, there it is!

Church of Notre Dame of Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 035

A person might reasonably think it was the evening light coming through the stain glass windows that I found inspiring.

westerly evening sun back lighting Church of Notre Dame of Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 084

They are lovely enough but it not what caught my eye and curiosity. It was these!

false Gargoyles from the side by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 061

These are false gargoyles and there are 51 on the west side of the Church. There were false gargoyles to the left of where I was standing.

false Gargoyles to the left by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 050

There were false gargoyles to right and the clock with its jacquemart above

false Gargoyles to the right Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 055

and false gargoyles in the middle. Let’s just say 51 false gargoyles is a lot of gargoyles.

false Gargoyles in the middle by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 058

They are false gargoyles because they do not have a spout that is designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Oh but they are curious intriguing things! I had to know more.

The wikipedia story for the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon’s false or dummy gargoyles goes like this:

According to the account of the monk Étienne de Bourbon, the original gargoyles were in place for only a short time: they were removed around 1240, following a fatal accident. A usurer was killed on the church forecourt as he was about to get married: a stone figure representing a usurer became detached and fell on him. His colleagues organised the destruction of all the dummy gargoyles on the façade, except for one at the upper right corner that survived until the 1960s, when it was replaced. Some 19th-century engravings do not show this gargoyle, but it can be seen in photos taken before 1880. The gargoyles at the sides and the back of the façade remain.

The dummy gargoyles which today decorate the façade, and which represent human beings, animals and monsters, were made in 1880-1882, during the restoration of the church. According to the archives, they were the work of seven Parisian sculptors: Chapot, Corbel, Geoffroy, Lagoule (also known as Delagoule), Pascal, Thiébault and Tournier.

Note: a usurer is a person who lends money and requires the borrower to pay a high amount of interest.

If you were to name one of your least favourite relatives (dead or alive) after a false gargoyle – what human being, animal or monster would they be?

Oh! Please do NOT disclose the name of the relative or leave any identifying clues. In this case, anonymity is a must 😉

Now, far too soon,  it is time to start packing our belonging and say good-bye to this beautiful city. Tomorrow we continue on to Basel Switzerland where I am not sure I will have internet access so you might not receive another post from me until we get to Venice, Italy.


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

April morning in Dijon France

We made it from London England to Dijon France yesterday but arrived a little later than planned after missing our first connection in Paris and ended up on a later train. What an adventure! I don’t think I have been so confused in a very long time. Lesson number one – Ask. Lesson number two -Ask again. Lesson number three – keep asking.

Good people to ask in the Paris metro and train stations are the people at the small snack shops. They were the most skilled at giving clear directions. Better than the information centre. Who would have thought it? My assessment of RER Transit across Paris is mixed. I believe it  is only for the brave foreign traveler or those that play video games and who are willing to keep trying to get through the doors and passages which appear to be hidden. I took us on a wrong turn someplace getting off the RER and after about half an hour of asking and searching I popped up like a gopher halfway down the loading area for the trains. This would have been fine if our two month continuous train pass had been activated but wasn’t and this is where we lost any hope of catching our first possible connection to Dijon. Since we didn’t come in the main entrance and we didn’t know the layout of the Gare de Lyon train station, we had no idea where the ticket office was located. I tried information and received some rough idea which didn’t seem to lead to anything resembling a ticket office. Then I asked someone else who worked in another part of the building but she didn’t know either.

After waving us off the same direction as the information counter David said  “You poor darling. You have no idea where to go and I can’t keep following you.”

This experience and the five minutes to catch our train later when transferring in Sens almost finished him. When I didn’t see Dijon Ville on the list of destinations after we disembarked, I went and checked with the ticket counter. The service person had little English and of course I had about the same amount of French. But I had written out the train number, time and our destination in a little black pocket note book. This enabled her read my notes and not be distracted with my feeble attempts at speaking her beautiful language. She checked the schedule and let me know that we had five minutest to get to Platform one (voice raised hands making appropriate references to be sure I understood as she spoke her English words perfectly). This required quickly zipping across to a middle platform in the underground stairs with our luggage. I gathered David up and pointed him down a steep set of stairs and grabbed the end of our bag so we could  go quickly. We then went about 20 feet and I pointed for him to go up an equally steep set of stairs.


Yes, I do believe he shouted in dismay. But we made our way up the stairs with a whole two minutes to spare.
As we whisk across the French countryside he is deciding what in the suitcase he is going to send home. But the yellow rapeseed fields are stunning and the regional train is quiet like the ferry home from Victoria. He is recovering. I hope anyway. Looking out the window I see trees with doctor Zeus like balls on them that must be a vine growing up the tree and forming these shapes. Dusk is falling and, even if I have almost no idea what the conductor is saying, the stillness of the end of the day is comforting.

But that was yesterday. This morning we woke early in our old walk up apartment with its French balcony and many tastefully added modern touches. The task was to find the Les Halles market.

early morning Les Halles Market by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 003

Many streets in Dijon are pedestrian and bicycle only making it a pleasant city to walk both day and night. The market starts early and Tuesday is the local shopping day. As we slipped along the quiet streets with locals going to work it was easy to think we are just part of another ordinary day in Dijon.

morning in Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 013

The salt cod or morue caught my eye but only for its natural display beauty.

salt cod or morue in Les Halles market Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 007

I would have taken more photographs to show you but I found an amazing food blog post by the Food Gypsy last evening when I was searching for where we could get groceries nearby. It is worth the read and the food photographs are stunning.

Instead, we went for coffee and croissants at the small cafe next to the market. We had taken a browse and wanted to carefully consider what we would purchase. This task needed a wee bit of fortification so as not to get more than we could eat in a couple days. After, we picked up a few items and started back to our apartment. The day was starting to pick up and the local shops were getting prepared for business.

April morning in Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 019

The day tours were just arriving from Paris as strolled home and unpacked our provisions.

a few Les Halles market provision by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 042

David turned on the French radio and we served up a late breakfast of strawberries drizzled with creme fraiche, parsley ham, sweet pears, ripened goat cheese and a chunk off a wood oven baked baguette.

I then went off to paint a block away in Park Darcy while David took a nap.

plein air sketching Park Darcy in April Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 058

I chose the park because I wasn’t sure how people would react to my painting on the streets. However, I quickly discovered that painting is considered serious work in Dijon and many people stopped to comment, visit, ask questions and give their thumbs up of approval. My French is improving by the hour out of the pure delight and pleasure of warm conversation. The only slightly awkward moment was when a couple of oriental tourists stage-set a photograph with me. I should have seen it coming but only had enough time to look up and smile as the woman laughed and put her arm around my shoulders and her husband’s face disappeared behind his iPad to frame the shot. I am not sure if one short night’s sleep can even remotely qualify me as the local Dijon artist painting in Park Darcy.

But here we have it – APRIL MORNING PARK DARCY 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on tempered hardboard.

Park Darcy in April Dijon France 8 x 10 acrylic plein air sketch gessobord  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 063

Getting tangled in the unknown and unfamiliar yesterday was worth it for the sweet welcome of the April streets of Dijon this morning. There is something extremely humbling about being at the mercy of others to find our way. It is only equaled by the release of finding we have succeeded and all do to the kind and open hearts and minds of others.


As an adult, what is a time you most needed to rely on the help of others to find your way?


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com