Cluny Abbey was the single most important religious centre in medieval Christendom. It is impossible to get an idea of the cultural, religious and political importance of this monumental building because unfortunately a fire destroyed most of its walls. Despite this, you can get a small idea of what was it was like in its time, because the entire town of Cluny seems immersed in the ruins of the abbey. You get excited at the thought of being in the place that was the heart of the Middle Ages, the most important of those dark ages ...
The Hospices de Beaune is a former medieval hospital transformed into a museum. It is obligatory for any traveler ve is passing through Burgundy. It is of the 15th century. The Hôtel Dieu (A part of the Hospices) is impressive and full of galleries, woodwork and ceilings that are beautiful.
All of the city of Paray le Monial, the architectural jewel of the region of Burgundy, is described as a city of history and art. The highlights are: the XI century basilica that resembles that of Cluny, the Chapel of the Visitation, the Tour St. Nicholas, City hall and several of the other medieval buildings that are truly impressive.
In front of the city hall of Dijon and the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, one can find the Place de la Libération which was constructed in the year 1689. It is the most lovely in the whole city. It was the royal square and part of the Palace of the Dukes before, but after the French Revolution in the year 1789, and has been called Liberation Square since the end of WWII. IT was constructed by the architect of King Louis XIV, in the city center of Dijon. The place was occupied from the 13th century, and the square was renovated in the year 2006 and is gorgeous. It was Christmas and one can see lights, the Christmas market, and the facade of the Palace of the Dukes.
The Basilica of Santa Magdalena de Vezelay as well as the village of Vezelay was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The village has a population of 600 inhabitants. Vézelay was the meeting point for pilgrims from Northern and Eastern Europe heading for Santiago de Compostela via Lemovicense, one of the four pilgrimage routes running through France. The basilica has been known throughout Europe since the eleventh century because it was said to contain the relics of St. Magdalena. It was also where the second crusade undertaken by St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century, started. Later Richard the Lionheart and Philippe Auguste, King of France, set out on the Third Crusade from here. It was also the place that St. Francis of Assisi chose to find the first Franciscan monastery in France. The first thing that strikes the visitor is the alternating white and brown colors, the keys of the arches and above all, the light that floods everything. The simplicity of the nave is definitely not a sign of poverty. The ornamentation and decoration of columns and capitals have a great technique and the result is a balanced, serene and sober basilica. Under the sanctuary lies the crypt where the relics of St. Magdalena rest and which pilgrims came to venerate. This crypt is a space of darkness and has more than likely already existed in Carolingian times.
The Church of Our Lady of Dijon is a masterpiece of Gothic style, from the 13th century. It's a part, together with the rest of the city's medieval centre and the Palace of the Dukes, of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built around 1220. It's quite small, but is one of the most beautiful churches in the region. Inside, you can see the Virgin of Good Hope, which used to be called the Black Madonna. It bears the arms of the city of Dijon. I like the main facade, it's very original. It's flat, carved stone, and seems more like a palace facade than a church. You don't realize until you enter the nave that it's a religious building. It measures about 30 feet high, with Gothic arches at the bottom, and then it has a strange gallery with small columns. It's open until five in the afternoon.
The covered market, Les Halles in French, is in the medieval heart of Dijon, and is a great place to sample the cuisine of the region. There are wine shops and butchers who make meals which they later only have to heat up, such as beef bourguignon, which is traditional of the region. The market is open every day, except Sunday, until 12h30. On Saturday it is open until 4. Eiffel is the company that built this great place in the early 19th century. It has a wrought iron structure, and is now a historical monument. Some of the stores have been opened for generations and generations, while others are more modern.
The beautiful church ofSaint Michel is close to the palace of the Dukes of Dijon, and was constructed on the site of a chapel of the 9th century. The present church dates from the 15th century, when the Catholic community built Dijon, a strange fact when back then the state usually paid for the churches. This building is in a Gothic style, and to create the central choir in 1499. Later the work stopped due to a lack of money, and war against the Swiss. It was finished in 1529, and was dedicated to the archangel Saint Michael. They took the church after the French Revolution, and most of the works of art were destroyed. If the church was renovated, there is very little left from those days.
This place is also known as Bareuzai Square, and is a central point in the medieval center of Dijon. The surrounding streets are pedestrian, and it is a very pleasant place to take a stroll, or have a drink. The Moulin A Vent is a very good restaurant in the square which was built in a love old house. I like the outsides of the houses which have wooden pillars which gives them a special charm. The name represents the child Bareuzai, which can be found in the center of the square, who squeezes grapes to make wine. It is a bronze statue that was constructed in the square to commemorate good wine. Dijon is in the center of Burgundy, the second most important town after Bordeaux in the wine region. It is a place that did not exist in the Middle Ages, and was later created to bring down a few houses in the neighborhood. In good weather there are games booths for children as well as outdoor terraces. Sometimes there are concerts.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon is installed in the beautiful palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, a building that is part of the UNESCO world heritage. It is, after the museums of Paris, one of the country's most important museums. Visit and access to permanent collections are free. Guided tours are 6 euros, or 4 euros for an audio guide. It is the only museum, along with the Louvre, which is in a palace. Now they are renovating the palace but the museum remains open. Even if you dislike the museum, visit for the amazing palace. The museum is one of the oldest in France, thanks to the power of the Dukes ve managed to acquire a fabulous paintings and masterpieces. There are works of Egyptian art, classics .... It opened its doors in 1799.
The Dukes of Burgundy square is located behind the Dukes Palace, at the entrance to the city's Fine Arts Museum. It's a nice place because many medieval houses are still standing, which have been converted into shops, lodges, and hotels. Some have a history from the XIII century, like the neighbouring Cathedral of Our Lady of Dijon. Before, the palace was much bigger and you can still see some ruins of the old extensions, now located in the public garden in the centre of the square. It is quiet, and the palace's entrance, moved after the Liberation, is on this side. When I was visiting, the roofs were snow-covered which was lovely to see at night, with the palace illuminated. I loved this place.
The old town of Dijon has a beautiful medieval quarter, which is organized around the palace of the Dukes. Luckily, the medieval streets are pedestrianised. Verrerie Street for example is very nice with traditional houses with wooden pillars and small shops. The Palace of the Dukes is an art museum that you can visit. Spending half day in Dijon may suffice, but it is a pleasant city with lots to do and very good food so better to spend more time there if you can. There are narrow medieval streets and the houses do not seem straight, like they're going to fall over. The old center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is a path represented by a nocturnal bird, which takes you through the main points of interest. You can ask for a map at the tourist information center, but the city is actually signposted very well.
The Great Theatre of Dijon is situated next to the palace of the Dukes, on the side of the Place de la libération. It was constructed in the 1830s by architect Alavoine. In this place once stood the Holy Chapel of the Palace of the Dukes. It was destroyed later to create this monument in a neo classical style. It opened in 1828, and again was renovated many times. The major works were made in 1855, the inside decorated with paintings and a painted curtain too, of Cambon. In 1969 it was renovated. The theater hosts international French troops and sometimes has a dynamic program of shoes which can be viewed online if one so wants.
Dijon's Christmas market is beautiful, despite its small size, everything seems magical with lights and illuminated trees. It is installed in the Plaza de la Libération, in front of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. There are a dozen small wooden stalls, serving food from the region. You can eat delicious sandwiches, accompanied by mulled wine or chocolate. Do not miss the pain d'spices, bread served with spices in the shape of a saint or animals of Bethlehem. Sometimes they can be hung on the Christmas tree. Besides the gourmet shops there are also souvenir shops, handicrafts from distant countries, and fair trade shops. It is a great place to visit and Christmas and to do some Christmas shopping.
This amazing place is in the heart of the Morvan! In the middle of the forest you suddenly stumble upon a brightly colored temple founded in 1974. This isn't a scenario that you expect to find on the roads of Burgundy. Curiosity won out and I went to visit, which is the perfect environment for people seeking a peaceful and spiritual retreat. The tour is interesting, especially for those who can not afford to go to Asia and visit historic and ancient temples! Several events and ceremonies are organized, you can check the web page for more information on this topic.
Fontenay Abbey is a monastery Marmagne French (Côte-d'Or department) near Tonnerre, about 45 km from Auxerre. It is one of the most iconic of all monasteries of Cistercian architecture. Bernard of Clairvaux and monks of his affiliation funded Clairvaux Abbey and its construction, and it is very well preserved, the model for the important Cistercian expansion in Europe in the next two centuries. The oldest Cistercian foundation preserved in France offers insight into the Cistercian way of life. It was founded in 1118 by St. Bernard. In the heart of the forest this retreat offered peace sought by the order. Local aristocrats offered their protection and it was only in the Revolution that it temporarily became a paper mill. In 1906 it was restored and now you can visit the complex abbey. Highlights are the church, the cloister, the apartments of the abbot, the loft, the bedroom, the scriptorium and the magnificent chapter hall. The church was built in 1127-1150 as cruciform and its proportions typical of church Cistercian architecture. Measuring 66 meters in length over 8 meters wide, the cruise is 19 meters. The cloister square, lower than the nave was constructed almost simultaneously to the church. The chapter house is square and the ribbed vault is semicircular, with ribs that are born in small central columns and brackets distributed by the side walls. This classic dome in the Cistercian styles repeats in other rooms and is one of the characteristics of these monasteries. Light from the cloister enters through the door and the two open arches, and windows on the opposite side on the wall making the room light. An unmissable corner without doubt!
Nevers is a quiet town, capital of the department of Nièvre. The streets are along the Loire. Among its points of interest include the Palais Ducal, the Cathedral Saint-Cyr Sainte-Julitte and the Church of St. Bernadette of Banlay. In summer the council organizes visits to the Cathedral and the Doge's Palace has activities for people of all ages. It has enabled a beach in one of the banks of the Loire which has performances and workshops for kids.