This former capital of the duchy of the same name is a sleepy, countrified French town, with little but its reputedly valuable and beautiful lace to commend it to the average observer.
As a cathedral town, of even secondary rank, it will fall far short of any preconceived ideas which one may be possessed of concerning it, though its Cathedral of Notre Dame is in many ways one of those irresistible shrines, which at least promise, and often fulfil, a great deal more than their lack of magnitude indicates.
Its facade, lacking the conventional towers, advances well into the roadway, as a sort of forward porch; as at Louviers near by. This porch is very ornate, with decorations of the late Gothic period of flowing tracery.
After all, it is an incongruous sort of a building, in that only this porch and its squat central tower, which is nought but a mere cupola, are in the least decorative.
The nave, the choir and chevet, and chapels, are all of a bareness which only exaggerates the floridness of these other appendages. The nave itself is but one hundred and ten feet long, and perhaps a scant thirty wide, and dates from the fourteenth century. It contains good glass of the same period, which luckily escaped the spoliation of the Revolution.
The choir is more modern, and much plainer in treatment, and is but fifty-five feet in length and of the same width as the nave.
There are no transepts; in short, the chief and most interesting features of the church are the before mentioned details, which, unquestionably bordering upon the debasement of Gothic art, are in every way attractive, with lightness and colour, if such an expression may be applied to gray stone.
Certainly the play of sunlight on gracefully carven stone is indicative of a brilliancy which might be termed an effect of colour; and it is with respect to that quality that the west facade of Notre Dame d’Alencon appeals; more than as an otherwise grand or even highly interesting structure.