Construction of the church :

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       The ecumenical church of Port Grimaud was dedicated to SAINT FRANCOIS D'ASSISE...
       Unable to rely on outside funding, but aware of the importance of such a construction in the life of any village, aware of the need to build what was officially intended to serve as a seawall for boats, the architect took it upon himself to construct the building...

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Premières ébauches :

       The first draft dates from 1963. The architect was already imagining what his lake city would look like.
       The bell tower of the church was inspired by the one in Saint Tropez.


       In 1965, the building permit had not yet been signed, but the general idea of the future lake town was beginning to take shape: it was structured around a central core, the heart of the town, made up of a shopping square (the Market Square) extended by an island with another, smaller square, bordered on one side by an administrative building (the future Maison Commune) and on the other by the indispensable church present in any real village.

       The draft of the church showed an imposing tower, topped by a very sober bell tower. The architect's intention was to place a panoramic terrace at the top from which visitors could admire the lake city. The access staircase was designed and corresponds to the one built a few years later...

Ebauche 65 de l'Eglise
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Hesitations :

       If in 1970 the work was already well advanced, the city was already active with a practically completed market place and the shops open, the architect had still not decided what the bell tower of the future church would look like as shown in the sketch below:

première esquisse de l'eglise de port grimaud
the church has a pointed bell tower identical to that of the church in Grimaud...

L'église de Port Grimaud
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Laying of the first stone :

       This ceremony took place on November 2, 1969 in the presence of the Mayor of Grimaud, Mr. GIRAUD, Father ARRIBART, the CEO of the Etige company, Mr. GIRAUD, the architect François SPOERRY and in the presence of the Bishop of Toulon and the President of the Regional Council of the Reformed Church
premiere pierre eglise   premier pierre eglise

The parchment :

       For the occasion, a parchment signed by the Mayor of Grimaud, Mr Spoerry, the parish priest and the pastor of Grimaud, was slipped into a copper case, inserted into the perforated and engraved stone by Guy VEIGNAL, stone cutter in Grimaud.

       The text inscribed on this parchment is Verse 11 of Chapter 3 of the 1st Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians:

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is already laid, namely Jesus Christ".

parchemin eglise port grimaud

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Eglise de  port grimaud
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The gargoyles :

       The overall architecture of the building, with its defensive appearance and massive ashlar buttresses, was inspired by the fortified churches of the Camargue, particularly that of Saintes-Maries de la Mer...
       There are also similarities with that of Martigues, especially as regards the gargoyles...

gargouille    gargouille    gargouille    gargouille
In spring some plants spread their flowers on the top of the gargoyles !

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The bell tower :


       The church has its feet in the water on 2 sides, a lake city obliges, and since we are in Provence, it is adorned with a campanile in wrought iron created by the ironworker Monsieur BERNARD of the Garde-Freinet, at the top of a tower of 16 meters high supporting a bronze bell.

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      The terrace accessible to the public, which is reached after climbing a staircase of 96 steps made of stone, allows you to enjoy a magnificent panorama of the lakeside city and the Gulf of Saint Tropez.

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       Throughout Provence, church steeples are very often topped with a sort of wrought iron cage in which a bell is placed to ring the hours. These are the CAMPANILES (a word derived from the Latin 'campana' meaning a 'bell').
       These campaniles appeared in the 16th century to replace the spires of churches, which were often damaged.
       They have the advantage of offering little resistance to the wind, even strong and capricious ones such as the mistral, thanks to the light, openwork structures supporting the bells.
       The campaniles were very often used as 'amer' (An amer is a fixed and unambiguously identifiable landmark used for maritime navigation) to indicate villages from a great distance...

       However, it should be noted that the first bell towers were not religious in nature: they appeared in the Middle Ages on the watchtowers that dominated the defensive palisades of villages. On this tower a watchman had to scan the horizon and warn, in case of attack or fire, the villagers.
       In the 7th century, these watchmen were able to give the alert thanks to a new addition to the watchtower: the bell. Campaniles also appeared to support them. The towers, which had previously been made of wood, were now built of stone and became dungeons.
       Then the function of bells evolved. They rang the hours that marked the rhythm of people's lives and were found on church towers with the appearance of dials that had to be seen from as far away as possible...

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The interior :

       The interior consists of a nave 29 metres long and 13 metres high and a transept 11 metres wide.
       The altar and the ambo are made of Estaillade stone...

Intérieur de l'eglise de Port Grimaud

L'intérieur de l'Eglise de Port Grimaud
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Caveau de Monsieur Spoerry

Mr Spoerry has obtained permission to be laid to rest in a vault inside his church...

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The Stained Glass :

       The unique stained glass window on the main façade, facing the sea, is the work of VASARELY.

       It is divided into 25 small stained glass windows each representing the movements of the sun in phase with the sea.

Le vitrail signé Vasarely Le vitrail signé Vasarely

Le vitrail signé Vasarely
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Maintenance :

       At the ordinary General Meeting of SCI PORT GRIMAUD, dated 29 March 1975, the owners of PORT GRIMAUD 1 recognised "the Council of Christian Churches of Port Grimaud" as the authorised representative of the religious communities using the new church.

       This Ecumenical Council, composed ofhalf Catholics and half Protestants, was to include among its members, by right, a representative of the Condominium appointed by the Owners Association.

       This council should also:
             - to settle all practical or material questions concerning the common use of the Church by representatives of the Protestant and Catholic faiths.
             - assurer l'entretien de l'édifice.
             - authorise the use of this shrine for any artistic or cultural event not under the direct responsibility of either denomination.

       all the expenses for maintenance, repair and development of the building are covered by the rights of access to the terrace received as a donation, which makes the Church of PORT GRIMAUD the only one in France to be entirely self-financing...

The church was inaugurated in July 1973...

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The 1st wedding :

1er mariage a PORT GRIMAUD

The 1st bride in PORT GRIMAUD

       This church overlooking the canals was conducive to the celebration of weddings, giving the ceremony a little Venetian touch.

       On April 23, 1973, a first wedding was celebrated in the Church of the lake town. The owner of the Coches d'Eau proposed that the bride and groom arrive at the Church Square on one of his boats.

       The first bride (photo opposite), a new owner on rue de l'Octogone in Port Grimaud, was called Sylvie DERVELOY.

       Other weddings followed in Port Grimaud.

       Each time, either the bride and groom arrived by water buggy from their house, if they were owners, or all the guests were entitled to a ride on the canals, under the applause of the people present on the quays...

       A tradition was born in the lake city. It is still present today...

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Affluence :

       Many visitors, every year and since the very beginning, visit PORT GRIMAUD. The church square did not have any trees yet. They were planted at the end of the 90s.

l(eglise de PORT GRIMAUD
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l'eglise de PORT GRIMAUD
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  the work of François SPOERRY...

© Yves Lhermitte 2023   Reproduction prohibited without permission...