Saturday, 10 November 2012

Looking for Romanesque Churches

Any one who comes to Burgundy will not fail to spot the fact that there is rather a lot of Romanesque architecture in this area. We have visited all the really great churches in the area a number of times, but recently Cees stumbled upon a website which details “all” the bits and bobs of Romanesque architecture that there are to been seen in Burgundy. A Dutch chap, living in The Netherlands, has taken it upon himself to undertake this gargantuan task.

In true van Halderen style, Cees has set up a database for all the churches we have seen, he has added ones we didn’t know existed from Mr van Boxtel’s website and we have been making trips around these churches. Some of the descriptions were rather vague and so we have had to have more clarification from the owner of the website and when we have finally arrived in the village, we have met and chatted to many of the local residents asking where an ex-church or chapel might be in their village.

Our very own Romanesque church - Chazelle
In the course of the search, we have been invited into private houses (for instance the oldest chapel in Cluny) and we have seen some lovely buildings that are just not accessible or open to the public and what’s more, we have come to know even more gems of architecture and snippets of local history.

Whilst Cluny, Tournus, Anzy-le-Duc and Semur-en-Brionnais, might be some of the classic highlights that everyone comes for, we have visited some absolute gems thanks to this website. Our postcode (71460) has the most churches of any postcode in Burgundy, totalling 44 pieces of architecture and we have found and visited them all.

Finding every little church or chapel has been an adventure in its own right, some are derelict, one is in a field covered in a tarpaulin, some have been turned into something else, others have been so far altered from their Romanesque heritage, that you cannot even see that it was built more than a thousand years ago, but every one has been worth the search.

However, one church did prove very difficult to locate. We were told that there was a wall of a church with a fishbone pattern of bricks in Bonnay - just down the road from here. Well Bonnay may not be very big, but I can tell you when you are looking for a bit of wall it becomes a daunting task. We travel though this village quite often and each time, we searched a different corner to see what we could find, all to no avail. But we were not to be defeated. In the end we went to the Mairie and asked them if they knew where this wall was. The mayor was there and he did indeed know what we were talking about. So here you have it, a photo of the oldest church in Bonnay, not quite what we were expecting - I had visions of something a little bit bigger and a little more obviously church-like, but hey we found it and it is there.

The only remains of the oldest church in Bonnay
All in all, we have visited corners of our Département we didn’t know existed and seen some lovely little villages and met some truly interesting people. But so far we have only visited 173 of the 425 that are listed for Saône-et-Loire, so we still have a long way to go.

La Tuilerie Website showing holiday accommodation - not in Romanesque style.


  1. The topic rings a bell... Bravo for the research and the help, it has been truly useful and a pleasant cooperation from my side as well! Best Regards, Eduard

  2. It's been great fun at this end too !


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