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Bishop's palace

The Bishop's palace, from the 13th century to the present day


The Bishop's palace was built at the beginning of the 13th century, just next to the Roman wall. It subsequently underwent many changes, as one might expect in a building that accommodated 48 religious dignitaries until 1906. The conversion of the former palace to serve as a museum successfully combines contemporary construction techniques – glass, steel and concrete – with more traditional materials and styles – brick and masonry walls, frescoes, a magnificent staircase with a wrought iron balustrade, and sculpted coats of arms.

Main facade
The facade of the palace that is now home to the Musée de l'Ancien Evêché overlooks a paved courtyard, accessed via a monumental gateway. The facade dates from the 17th century and was commissioned by Monseigneur Le Camus, along similar lines to the fine mansions then being built in Paris.


Facade with geminated windows
This facade is a valuable example of the architecture and construction techniques used for this wing of the palace at the end of the 13th century. The building had two floors, lit by these twin windows, which were supported by arches on the ground floor. At the time the outside of the façade was rendered and painted.


Staircase
This ceremonial staircase was built in 1673, at the request of Monseigneur Le Camus. He wished to add an impression of luxury and prestige to the bishop's palace which he found too provincial. The staircase is remarkable for its arches unsupported by pillars and the flat-work wrought-iron scrolls of the banister.




Reception room
This room, no doubt used for official occasions, opened onto the outside through the twin windows. Its walls and ceiling were painted. Some elements of the decoration have survived, as for example this bird's nest perched on a chimney. Its bright colours give some idea of how richly decorated the inside of the palace must originally have been.



Private chapel
This private chapel is located in the middle of the palace. It was here that the bishop came to think and pray. The chapel was built in 1830, at the request of Monseigneur de Bruillard. Its overall design and decoration are typical of the style in fashion at the time of the Restoration, and as such the chapel is a rare and precious reminder. Nothing remains of the religious fixtures, but the decorations have been restored to their original state, with wood panelling, Ionic pilasters, recesses in the walls and imitation marble. The vaulted ceiling is made of moulded stucco, painted grey with gold details. It is divided into coffers, each stamped with a rose.


The bishops' gallery
A portrait gallery presents some of the 80 bishops who governed the diocese, starting with Bishop Domnin in the 4th century. This room also provides an explanation of how the bishop's palace and cathedral evolved in time, thanks to three scale models showing the various alterations to the buildings.

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