Surprise and Delight
Saturday, April 24,
This morning we shall explore some of the riches of Autun which reflect the considerable prosperity the city achieved during the middle ages. The Cathedrale St. Lazare

is one of the major works of Cluniac Art, constructed between 1120 and 1146 and consecrated by Pope Innocent II in 1130. It represents one of the most important examples of the Romanesque in Burgundy. Most memorable is the sculpture on the Tympanum

of the Last Judgement Public works of art are usually unsigned, but this bears the words "Gislebertus hocfecit".

Across the square from Cathedrale is the Musee Rolin. It occupied a 15th C. townhouse built for Nicolas Rolin. It includes some splendid Roman statuary, French and Flemish primitive paintings and a part of a relief by Gislebertus portraying the Temptation of Eve. Its an intriguing piece because it is so at odds with other interpretations of the time.

Later in the day we drive east to the Cote d' Or and follow the "route des Grands Crus" and visit one of the Chambertin Vineyards a name immortalised by Hillarie Belloc's pronouncement:

We visit Beaune, one of France's most charming provincial towns. As one commentator has it, its a town that "doesn't bustle, it strolls; it doesn't shout, it chants.." and is easy to explore by foot. Its centre piece is the Hotel-Dieu

founded by Nocolas Rolin in 1443 as a charity hospital

which it was until 1971, more than 400 years. It has changed little since the architect Jehan Wiscrere designed it in the flamboyant style: multi-color tile roof, small towers, dormer windows. The building also has an important painting, Roger van der Weyden's masterpiece, a triptych of The Last Judgement.

Sunday, April 25,
Today we drive north to Vezelay to the great pink and ochre Basilique Ste Madeleins

standing high on a hill overlooking the town. During the height of its glory in the 12th C. it claimed to be in possession of the relics of Mary Magdalene and became a starting point for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelo. Where we had Sunday service.

Its among the most impressive of Burgundy's Romanesque churches.

Later we visit the very interesting Chateau Bussy - Rabutin.

Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy was the rather naughty cousin of Mme Sevigne. Having disgraced himself in Paris by his writings (witty satires on courtiers and kings). he was exiled to his place in Burgundy and spent the next twenty years docorating its interior. It is considered to be one of the most architecturally satisfying of the French domestic Chateaux. Set against a gentle woodland and of mellow weathered stone, it has a perfect renassaince facade-ending in towers on each end. The garden has lawns, flowerbeds and low hedges reminiscent of those we associate with an English country house.

Nearby is the tranquil Cistercian Abbaye de Fontenay

founded by St. Bernard in 1118 and is the oldest surviving Cistercian foundation in France. It provides a rare insight into the Cistercian way of life. We see the Abbey Church.

The Monks' dormitory, Chapter House, Infirmary, Scriptorium.

Fontenay has had to undergo considerable restoration because of its dismantlement at the time of the Revolution, but in the history of Cistercian architecture it is considered to be one of the most successful examples of form joined to the monastic ideal.

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