Discuss and learn French: French vocabulary, French grammar, French culture etc.
Ancien (-ne) is one of those adjectives that can go before or after the noun, and thereby have a different meaning.
Normally if it precedes the noun its meaning is "former", otherwise it is "ancient/old".
I have seen numerous instances where "l'ancienne chapelle" appears to be referring to "the ancient chapelle". Even a French person I asked seemed to agree that this was OK - in the sense of "ancient".
Is this an exception to the rule?
The chances are that both may apply ie. it is both "former" (no longer used as a chapel) AND it is "ancient".
So, how should I say "the ancient chapel"?
I am not familiar with how "ancient" is used.
Is there perhaps something about "chapelles" that predisposes them to us as seeming inhererently ancient?
Perhaps someone else can tell us ,preferably a native speaker or maybe just someone with greater familiarity than myself with the language.
It's not usual to say "l'ancienne chapelle" with "ancienne" = old.
When I hear "l'ancienne chapelle" i understand "ancienne" as "former" = this chapel was a chapel some years or centuries ago and now it's not a chapel or it's always the same building that is not use as a chapel. But this chapel may be very old or not. But usually this chapel is old because now we don't build chapels since a long time.
To say an old chapel it's "une chapelle ancienne" or "une vieille chapelle".