Around the corner from the Musee Niepce and the Chalon tourism office, I encountered this fascinating courtyard. Perhaps the single most surprising element was the massive bronze Laocoon statue in an otherwise ordinary if picturesque courtyard. Why and how the statue ended up there is a mystery.
If you remember your mythology, Laocoon was a Trojan priest who predicted the Greek gift of the Trojan horse but was not believed. There are multiple versions of why the gods sent serpents to strangle him and his sons, ranging from dishonesty to defiling temple virgins. Regardless of the why, his story became famous, and has been commemorated in art from ancient times. There is a Roman marble of this scene, probably modeled after a Greek one, which was then emulated multiple times in stone and metal during the Renaissance.
Someone who lives in this courtyard favors geraniums.
Courtyard residences seem to be extremely popular in France. I suppose it’s for the relative privacy you have compared to facing the street, especially in older urban areas where stepping out your front door puts you literally a sidewalks’ breadth away from traffic. And it provides opportunities for parking that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. I think I’d like to live on a courtyard if I lived in Paris, or even in a town like Chalon. Who wouldn’t enjoy walking down the stairs every morning to be greeted by your own classical Greek statue?
Greenery of all kinds, in fact, is a hallmark of the space. These flowering vines had taken over the wall and partially obscured the window into the workshop. If my understanding of French is any good, the workshop behind these windows was a specialist in antiques and restoration. I couldn’t tell if they were open at the time so I didn’t try to venture in.
Another somewhat Swiss-looking architectural element, the peaked gabled windows in the roof: