Monday, 21 March 2011

Sunday Drive

The weather was beautiful on Sunday and combined with receiving two free entries to the “Salon des Vins et Produits Régionaux” (a regional food and wine show) in Paray-le-Monial from our friends Suus and Paula van der Linden, it meant we just had to go out and enjoy the Brionnnais for the day.

First order of the day was to visit the food and wine show where we tasted some superb wines that we could only dream of affording - Pommard, Beaune, Mercurey 1er cru just to name a few and where we sampled dried sausage (pork and bison), tapenade, escargot pâté, exquisite chocolates and of course cheese from our favourite supplier! After spending a small fortune to stock up “essential” regional delicacies, we headed off into town for lunch and a chance to revisit the sites.

Paray-le Monial is a nice smallish market town with a town centre well worth a wander around, a very fine Renaissance town hall and a superb Basilica built in the same style as Cluny’s Maior Ecclesia with a well-preserved cloister attached. It is also a place of pilgrimage and people come from far and wide to visit the place where Saint Margaret-Mary saw her visions of the Sacred Heart and the place where she was under the spiritual guidance of Saint Claude de la Columbière. Pope Jean-Paul II visited Paray-le-Monial in 1986, when he visited Taizé as well as a number of other places in France, but of particular note is that his visit to Paray-le-Monial was announced as a “pilgrimage” not just a simple visit. This injected much needed re-interest in Paray-le-Monial and since then the town has seen (and continues to see) a dramatic increase in visitors. The shops in the town are heavily influenced by this label and almost every other shops sells rosaries, crucifixes and statues of the Madonna, but fortunately the religious memorabilia remains tasteful, unlike some other pilgrim destinations I can think of.

After a couple of hours, we left Paray and went into the Brionnais itself. As anyone who has read our blogs will know, we are Romanesque church fans. We have visited almost all of the churches round here, but the enormous number of Romanesque churches in the Brionnais (more than 100) means that we have had to visit those on a carefully dosed basis to prevent overload. Yesterday we went to Neuilly-en-Donjohn in Allier a super little church and worth the trip, one tip though if you do go, don’t miss the exit off the N79 as we found out that now that the road has been improved there are limited exits off this section and missing the right one adds a 40km roundtrip.… Then on to St-Martin-du-Lac, Baugy, Bourg-le-Comte, Montceaux-l’Etoile, St-Yan and the not to be missed Anzy-le-Duc one of our all-time favourites with its superb tower.
Whilst St-Martin-du-Lac had in my opinion a totally out of place Gothic apse and choir, its outside was lovely and all the rest of the churches we saw were little gems.

All in all we had a fantastic day out. The Brionnais is not that far away (only 45 minutes from Cormatin to Paray-le-Monial) and we still have lots of churches to visit, so it certainly won’t be the last time we will visit the area.

Our website has details of the gites we rent out as holiday ccommodation in Cormatin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...