It was a natural question to ask during a rainy day visit to the busiest tourist attraction in Toulouse: la Cité d’Espace, Space City.
After much thought and a few silly photos, I remembered other pictures I had taken a year or so ago while I was researching ‘Lauragais’. Villenouvelle lies on the old Roman road between Carcassonne and Toulouse. The Black Prince destroyed the town during his Great Raid of 1355, and the church one sees today was built sometime around 1509, almost certainly financed with the profits of pastel, or woad. Its most striking feature is its bell gable, or mur clocher. Cheaper to build than a tower, this is a single wall pierced by niches where the bells hang and occasionally clang in the vent d’autan.
They are a typical feature of churches in the Lauragais, but what is unusual about the mur clocher of Villenouvelle is its uncanny resemblance to a spacecraft ready for launch. Was this what inspired the aerospace engineers of Toulouse to design the Ariane 5 rocket that I admired during my visit to la Cité d’Espace?
Unfortunately, the effect is less impressive from the main street. Driving past one could be forgiven for thinking it was the fake façade of a Hollywood film set.