Saturday, 20 April 2013

An excellent day out, courtesy of Clunypedia

Fresco, Berzé-la-Ville
There are some advantages to being a volunteer at the Office de Tourisme. The staff in the office receive invitations all the time to go to this meeting or that, to go to this exhibition opening or that and other such scintillating events, but sometimes they get invitations to some gem or other and these invitations are all offered around amongst the committee members. Being at a committee meeting the other night, the latest invitations were discussed and this time there was a tour of various Romanesque sites in our area, so I said I would be interested to go, to represent the OT. It turned out to be an all day bus tour with lunch included and I was beginning to get a little nervous that this was going to cost an arm and a leg to see things we have already seen, but wouldn’t mind visiting again, but no, it turned out to be completely free, to promote the new organisation Clunypedia, who are developing IT interface tools with the Fédération Européenne des Sites Clunisiens to improve the "visitor experience" to the Clunisien sites.

Paw prints in the floor
So off I went one morning this week, with Cees hiding in my coattails, to board the coach in Cluny, in the glorious sunshine. First stop, Berzé-la-Ville to visit the superb Chapelle des Moines. On arrival there were croissants and coffee and then for a guided “tour” of the chapel. I say tour loosely, as anyone who has been there will know you just sit in the chapel and look at the amazing frescos. The guide was very knowledgeable and interesting and we must have spent an hour just looking in detail at the frescos. The real bonus of this visit was that we were allowed to take photographs, something an ordinary tourist is not allowed to do. The chapel is a real marvel and a must for anyone even remotely interested in Romanesque art. Even the floor fascinated me as there were little cat paw prints in the floor tiles and I had visions of Fifi’s forefathers wandering over still drying floor tiles in a sechoir just like the one we have here in Chazelle. I would have loved to have lifted one of the tiles to see if they actually came from here, but I didn’t dare!

Wine tasting
Onwards to a vineyard, Domaine des Vignes du Maynes, which can trace its origins back to the days when Cluny was a major power in Europe. This was one of the Doyennés for Cluny. Doyennés were suppliers to the abbey, which were strategically placed in the countryside around Cluny to supply the Abbey with food and of course wine. Even Chazelle started life as a Doyenné, possibly also for wine, but the vineyards were destroyed in the late 19th century in the phylloxera plague.

We had a look round the caves and tasted the wine. The white wine was exquisite and for those after a very different red wine, they had some bottles well worth a try, I personally found the red a bit too overpowering in flavour, but more than one or two bottles were sold to the connoisseurs from Paris. They also had an amazing tool collection that the grandfather and father of the current owner have been collecting for years. If there is a tool for it, these chaps have found one, literally thousands and thousands of tools. They could do with presenting their treasure trove a bit better, but it was fascinating none the less.

Cluny Abbey
The coach then drove us through the countryside looking out at Brancion, Chapaize and Cormatin and then back to Cluny, fortunately dropping us at the car park so that we could load the wine purchases into our cars before we went to the Abbey for lunch. After lunch we, had a speedy visit of the museum and the Abbey and we left the Abbey via "the locked door” and in to the main street to visit the ongoing renovation of the Dragon House in the centre of town and for those without vertigo, there was the possibility to climb the Cheese tower.

All in all an excellent day out and so here is a plug for Clunypedia as a big thank you to them. Clunypedia Facebook page

La Tuilerie Website with details of holiday accommodation, conveniently located to visit the Romanesque gems of South Burgundy.

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