My 'explore' adventure yesterday nearly turned into a mis-adventure! My goal was the fortified church at Saint-Pierre-Toirac, a little village 10 kms up the road towards Figeac. I'd driven past the sign to the village and its church many times and knew I wanted to have a peek. I drove through the village three times, looking for some indication of the church...a cross, a bell tower, a stained glass window sighting, anything to point me in a direction. "This is stupid," I muttered to myself. "This is a village of 120 souls, it's not that big! Why can't I find the church?" On my fourth drive-through (bet the locals were chuckling to themselves by then), I decided to stop and walk...maybe I'd see something that looked 'church-y.' I pulled over in front of the mairie, walked 10 feet and saw this archway with a little arrow inside pointing to "Eglise." Even as I walked through the arch and into a warren of ruelles and old stone houses, I still couldn't see anything resembling a church until I reached the very end of the rue.
This is it. No cross, no bell tower, very few windows. It sits in a tiny square, all the old stone houses surrounding it open into the square and face the church. It isn't hard to imagine how it looked in the late 1100's/early 1200's when it was built. This whole area was enclosed in a wall that opened at the arch I walked through. Close the gate there and this area was totally protected. The only real indicator I saw on the outside of the building that this might be a church was this stone carving of Samson slaying a lion with an angel looking on...
I walked around the church trying to find a good angle to photograph it in its entirety. There was no place to step back far enough to do so. This is the best I could do without trespassing in someone's garden, giving you an idea just how tightly the houses are clustered around the church, their safe-haven in times of war.
These sarcophagi, which date from the 12th century, lie in situ at the back of the church. They look really small to me. I suppose that's because people were smaller in stature then and really, comfort wasn't an issue!
I saw no indication of this hobbit-sized door in the church's interior, so I have no idea where it goes. A little mystery, eh? There are a few other mysteries as well. I'll share them and the interior of the church in my next blog post.