Not Bright Orange: the Cathedral of Notre Dame

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Cathedral of Our Lady of Nazareth, Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth, Orange, France

Despite the fact that this church is still referred to as a Cathedral – it isn’t.  It has been a simple parochial church since 1877, when they lost their bishop and came under the sphere of Avignon.  How it has kept its title is a mystery, because quite frankly the building has none of the grandeur or interest that you would usually associate with such a building.  In fact, it’s cute – but kinda boring.

The first church on the site was from 529, but it was consecrated as a cathedral in 1208.  It has undergone many changes over the centuries – having lost much of its decoration during the destructive rampages of Protestants in the 16th century, during the Wars of Religion.  While it has elements from the 17th and 18th centuries, the most noticeable features are from the 19th century.

As you can see in the pictures below, the church was extremely dark.  Considering we visited in the afternoon of a cloudless and hot July day, it’s quite surprising how little light was able to filter through.  This didn’t help us to really appreciate any treasures that might have been tucked away in dark corners, but it was enough to see that the place needs restoration.

So In Summary

I feel bad for saying this, but there wasn’t really much to recommend this church.  I think it’s a very sweet place to have as your local Sunday haunt, and certainly it had a decent stream of people going in and out.  But then, there’s really not much to do in Orange, especially on a Sunday, and I think we maybe all gave it more time than it warranted…

Further Information

Naturally the entry is free.  There is a website – exclusively in French, and dealing with parochial matters:

How To Get There

Orange is the type of town where it doesn’t matter what road you go down, you will still end up in a square you’ve been through a hundred times.  The church is in this square, the main one of town, and at the end of an easy walk from the train station.


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