Jacques-Francois Blondel's architecture handbook does not exactly make the most inspiring of reads. The full title, Cours d'architecture ou traité de la décoration, distribution et constructions des bâtiments contenant les leçons données en 1750, et les années suivantes is already indicative of the rather pedantic character of the book. Moreover, the title also seems just plain wrong in terms of its very 'architecture', of its logical structure (decoration, distribution and construction? give me Vitruvius any day of the week... Blondel should get his priorities straight...). And in fact the structure of the book is a bit all over the place. But, it has to be said, the virtue of these tomes is to be, if nothing else, full of examples - some, again, uninspiring, some amazing, some average, some unexpected. The drawing above is the plan of the Church of Saint-Marie-de-la Visitation in Rue St. Antoine, Paris. The church was originally part of a convent; it still exists today and is known as the Temple du Marais as it operates as protestant church. The plan definitely stands out from what is Blondel's rather monotone collection, and in fact, this is a work by none other than Francois Mansart. What is more, the church dates to 1632, which means it is really a rather original project and not a rip off of Italianate models as one might have thought. In fact, if we consider that Borromini wouldn't get his San Carlino commission until 1634, the use of the core church space as a shell that creates a poche-non-poche circulation ring is quite unique in such an early project.
See the plan of San Carlino:
The facade of this Mansart church is also very interesting - here's the elevation from Blondel:
There is something rather bizarre in this façade that juxtaposes two equally strong elements - a dome and a portal - without really establishing a hierarchy between the two. The portal itself is a thing of beauty, with just a hint of a gigantic order in the flattened mock-pillars, and two rather small columns flanking the main door and sticking out in full, 360 degrees detail from the wall (apparently Mansart was a fan of Michelangelo). The large oculus offset by a rather ironic curved cornice is the only decoration of a façade that stands out for the amount of blank wall it offers to the eye. Blondel also reproduced the portal in a second illustration, as a standalone piece - probably ready for his students to poach - see below.