A pair of narrow, red painted doors in an intricately decorated doorway.  Episodes from a saintly life, carved round the arch and Mary crowned as queen of heaven on the tympanum.

The details that caught my eye first were the delicate garlands of flowers and foliage which outline the archway; two garlands of roses and one of hawthorn leaves, the signature (as I discovered later) of 13th century master builder and sculptor Pierre de Montreuil.  Stylised yet true to nature, these carvings are the work of someone with a keenly observant eye.


The two lower panels, either side of the doorway, depend on myth and imagination for their detail as well as observation.   Horses, dogs, and swans may have supplied the models for hooves, clawed paws and strong wings but here they are found on centaurs, griffons, dragons and other mythical beasts.  The bizarre creatures are neatly corralled in a formal, tapestry pattern, said to show a strong Eastern influence, linked to returning crusaders.



Just round the corner from the west end of the cathedral, where 14 million visitors a year wait patiently in shuffling queues, this small entrance on the north side of Notre Dame de Paris doesn’t feature in many tourist photos.  As I crouched down to get a better angle, a man stopped with his young family to see what I’d found and pointed out some creatures I’d not noticed.  Around the walls of Notre Dame there are many surprises to be found, way above your head but also down at child height.


For more surprising doors around the world, follow the links at Norm’s Thursday Doors.