Collegiale Notre Dame En Vaux Unesco Chalons © Jean Côme NicolleCollegiale Notre Dame En Vaux Unesco Chalons
©Collegiale Notre Dame En Vaux Unesco Chalons|Jean-Côme Nicolle

Notre‑Dame‑en‑Vaux Church

A UNESCO treasure

Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive buildings in Châlons-en-Champagne. With its spires, visible from dozens of kilometres away, it is one of the most amazing monuments in Châlons’ rich heritage. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Pilgrimage Route to Santiago de Compostela, don’t miss the opportunity to explore this UNESCO treasure.

You'll be amazed!

What makes it unique

Its cloister

On the northern side of the collegiate church, a cloister richly decorated with statue-columns has been built in the 12th century by the canons. It was demolished by the same canons in the 18th century.

Stone and columns were used in the foundations of the canonical houses which bordered the former cloister. Archaeological excavations were undertaken by Léon Pressouyre in 1973 who was involved in founding the magnificent Musée du Cloître Notre-Dame in 1978.

Its 56 bells carillon

One of the largest in Europe

This carillon was produced by the Bollée house, a famous bell foundry in Le Mans. Bishop Prilly donated it to Notre-Dame in 1858 then installed in the watchman’s tower. The cylinder was automated from its inception, and still functions today. It now chimes every quarter of an hour and concerts are held every year. You can visit the carillon as part of a number of exclusive tours.

Its exceptional luminosity

The Gothic nave of the collegiate church has four levels allowing an exceptional light to illuminate the building.

Its sundial

The sundial on the collegiate church, which is missing its gnomon, is believed to be one of the oldest in France. It was engraved in the 13th century.

Its exquisite decorative carved capitals

Sculptures of the south tower of the chevet depict imaginary creatures (harpies, monsters, and eagles) and date to the Romanesque era. Others in the church date from the second half of the 13th century and display motifs from nature and decorative details (such as acanthus leaves, and crockets).

Its stunning stained-glass windows

Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church displays three historical eras of stained-glass artwork:

  • A Bay made up of Romanesque medallions in the northern chapel.
  • A set of stained-glass windows in the aisles of the nave dating from the 16th century:

A – The legend of the Battle of Clavijo which is predominantly red and gold. This masterpiece is exceptionally signed by the artist Mathieu Bléville. It depicts certain scenes from Saint Jacques’ life who appears in Matamore’s comedy with his pilgrim’s hat.

B – The glorification of the Virgin Mary where we see the donors around her.

C – The nativity, displaying barrel makers from the city.

D – The deposition of the Cross. Here, blue and white stars emerge throughout the piece.

  • Glazing was carried out during the significant restoration undertaken in the second half of the 19th century.

E – The Western Rose window, displaying the Redemption in the centre. Creating this masterpiece required an organ to be built on the sides so as not to obstruct the view and the light from the west.

A piece of history

A treasure over 1,000 years old

On the banks of

the Mau Canal

 

Originally located outside the city walls, Notre-Dame-en-Vaux was built on a swampy area where three rivers converged, of which only the Mau remains. It was not brought inside the city walls until the 13th century. The first chapel was built in the 9th century, the church was subsequently built and occupied by a community of canons in 1114 who lived together “in college”, hence its status as a collegiate church.

The time of the French

Revolution

 

The collegiate church suffered greatly during the French Revolution and in the decades that followed. It was even transformed into a horse arena and then into stables, and was later invaded by the coalition armies. Throughout the 19th century, the celebrated architect, Lassus, and the Champenois abbot sought to restore the medieval architecture of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux. They had a second spire reconstructed on the façade. In addition, they restored an organ and some stained-glass windows in a Gothic style. They also repaved the ground with ancient tombstones and commissioned the Châlons artist Gustave Moriamé to design the neo-Gothic high altar.

Prepare to be amazed!

Métamorph’eau‘ses

Enjoy a sound & light show displayed on the western facade of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux, as part of the Métamorph’eau’s boat trip. This can be seen from the boat or from Quai Barbat.

Visit Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church

Practical information

This 10-step tour allows you to discover all the main features in Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church. Simply download the IdVizi app to your mobile and select the “Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church” tour.

You can take a self-guided tour of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church every day from 7.30 am to 7 pm.

Take tour with an audioguide.

This 10-step audio-guided tour will give you a better understanding of the history of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church.