Cluny la Soirée : Rêves de Lumière & a "Scottish" Band

... back in town and we’re back for a second evening meal at the Brasserie du Nord

The sun is setting

Cluny Sunset

and a remarkable transformation is occurring before our eyes. A “Mise en Lumière” on the facade of the Palais du Pape Gélase, a part of the Cluny 2010 celebrations, and the work of the light artist Patrice Warrener and his Chromolithe Polychromatic Illumination System.

Here’s little .swf presentation of the development of the work:

Cluny2010(click to view - you’ll need to use your browser’s “Back” button to get back here)

Here’s the view from across the square:

Palais du Pape Gélase Illuminated

Picture of the night in the square, though, has to be this one from Ruth, of a little extra piece of the “Mise en Lumière” right on the terrace of the Brasserie du Nord

Mise en Lumière
(The light in the background of this picture (top right) is the location of one of Warrener’s projection units, from which the “Rêves de Lumière” lights were beamed to the Palais’ facade)

So once we’d seen that, there was nothing for it but to hit the Café du Centre, to check out the “Celtic Scottish Music” band:

Then back to our hotel, for tomorrow we’re off to our gîte at Flavigny-sur-Ozerain


afternoon ride : Cluny to Beaujolais

after lunch, a change of hotel

here’s the view from our new bedroom window:

Le Patron @ L'Hôtel Saint-Odilon

Then off south, stopping first in the hamlet of Saint Point, with its (inevitable) Église Romaine

L'Église de Saint Point

St Amable, dans l'Église de Saint Point

and the (privately owner-occupied) Château Lamartine, formerly eponymously owned & occupied:

Château Lamartine

nice wee place, and a decent looking campsite nearby, so we may return!

Saint Point : the village (or most of it)

This next bit was a surprise. The posh vineyards of the Côte d’Or that we visited last trip were interesting, but less-opulent Beaujolais is actually far more scenically interesting, with far more dramatic slopes, and with some vineyards every bit as carefully-tended as anything we saw in Meursault or Vosne-Romanée (and some just as scruffy and neglected)

Beaujolais vineyards near Fleurie

Les Vins Sensuels de Fleurie

A nice style in promo here, too. She’s reminiscent of the graphic on the old Gitânes fag-packets you never seem to see in France anymore


à la Bourgogne

off now in search of some countryside that may be less dramatic than the Alps...

...but hopefully may be a little less mobbed. À la Bourgogne, and with a freshly purchased copy of “Bourgogne - Le Guide du Routard - 2010” to supplement (supplant?) the Rough Guide.

Interestingly, the Routard seems to confirm and to develop Jim’s long-held but never well-substantiated notion that France splits in two, climatically, across a line that passes about 50 miles south of Paris: with a Mediterranean climate to the south and a broadly British type of weather to the North thereof. Not only confirms what Jim thought he’d seen, but further amplifies the significance of the line, while relocating it to a point more like 150 miles south of Paris. The chapter on the Saône-et-Loire Département begins thus:

“Si vous avez pris l'autoroute pour rejoindre Mâcon depuis Dijon ou Beaune, l'apparition dans le lointain de villages aux toits de tuiles douces et rondes à la romaine, accompagnée dans l'air d'un changement de climat et d'atmosphère, d'une lumière soudain plus gaie, est un signe qui ne trompe pas : il vous indique, mieux qu'un panneau frontalier, le passage irrémédiable du <> au <>, non seulement de la Bourgogne, mais aussi de la France. Frontière architecturale d'abord : au niveau de Tournus, les toits très inclinés recouverts d'ardoises ou de tuiles plates s'évasent, s'étalent, prennent de la couleur, se couvrent de tuiles rondes å la romaine ou provençales. Frontière linguistique : c'est au nord du Maconnais aussi qui passe la limite entre le << franco-provençal >> et la langue d'oil. Par ici, par exemple, le << mas >>. mot méridional pour l'habitation rurale, est remplacé par << meix >>, sa forme nordique.” (Bourgogne : Le Guide de Routard, Hachette, Paris, 2010, p.155)

Roughly translated, with the help (and despite the hindrance) of Google’s translator:

If you take the highway out of Dijon or Beaune towards Mâcon, you may notice the appearance in the distance of villages with roofs of smooth and rounded Romanesque tiles; a “change in the air” of climate and atmosphere, and a light that is all at once more cheerful. These signs do not deceive. They indicate, more clearly than any frontier marker, the ineluctable passage from the North to the South, not only of Burgundy, but also of France.
“This frontier is architectural at first: at Tournus, steep roofs covered with slates or tiles flare flat, and spread out. They take on the colour of, and are covered with, the rounded tiles of Roman Provence.
“Then we cross a language frontier : in the north of the Mâconnais a line bounds the Franco-Provençal “langue d’oc” from the “langue d’oil” of the north. Thus for example, “mas”, the Southern word for rural housing, is replaced by “meix”, its Northern form.

And today we two pass through Mâcon, pausing only to fill the tank in the baking midday heat of a deserted but automated supermarket forecourt. But we will be in Burgundy now for as far as we can really foresee, as this is Wednesday and on Saturday we have to be at Falvigny-sur-Ozerain, where our gîte will await and where we will stay for seven nights.

From Mâcon, our wanderings take us to Cluny, where we arrive just before the thunder, and grab a bed in a Logis. Full board - it doesn’t look like the rain will stop tonight. Strange encounter in the dining room that evening: pressed to order an aperitif, Jim plumped for a Campari soda. The waitress brought a glass of Campari and a bottle of Schweppes tonic water. When Jim questioned this, she informed him they had no soda, and anyway Campari with tonic is “meilleur”. Be warned, dear reader, it’s not! Jim drank what little he could, and it didn’t show up on the bill. So that was a’igh’n’e’end.


a morning in Cluny : the town with no Abbey

we didn’t really know what to expect of Cluny...

... the guides bang on about a ruined abbey, which to us Brit suggests something between a pile of rubble and the like of Fountains or Tintern.

The Abbaye de Cluny, renowned in its medieval day as the largest building in Christendom, was not destroyed by marauding armies. Out-sized only 500 years later by the upstart St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, before its decline and destruction, Cluny’s abbaye was a major force within European Catholicism. The Cluniac faction was dominant in the Benedictine order, shaping the political role of the church in medieval Europe and effectively running the papacy for a couple of centuries. (See wikipedia here)

The Abbaye’s decline appears to have its origins in serious financial mismanagement and overly-ambitious building programmes as far back as the 12th century. More recently in post-revolutionary France the last evidence of its former grandeur was pilfered down to its currently much-reduced size by local people in search of building materials.

The destruction of the abbey was completed by about 1850, just around the time when modern tourism could have made old Cluny into a major global destination, cf. the Alhambra, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat or the Vatican.

All that remains today are a few towers and steeples, but nevertheless Cluny is an attractive town which we enjoyed visiting, none the worse, and much the quieter, for not harbouring a “world class” tourist magnet!

We enjoyed our time in Cluny, and may very well return when next we hit Bourgogne. Good lunches at the Central Bar, and the beef with papardelle at the Brasserie du Nord deserves a mention.

We began our morning in Cluny not in the abbey (what abbey?) but in the church nearest to our hotel, the Église Saintt Marcel in the Rue Prudhon (yes, that Prudhon - he was from here too):

Église Saint Marcel

Thereafter, wandering the narrow streets and wide squares in Cluny’s centro storico, we were seldom more than a couple of minutes from some sighting of the (relatively) little that remains of the Abbaye. Round almost every corner there’s a glimpse of a tower...

Cluny Street Scene

... or of the clocher of the ancienne Abbaye...

Ruth and the Clocher

The Clocher

The Clocher behind the Palais du Pape Gélase

...though the town does have a contemporary cultural life today. The building at the centre of the above shot is a branch of the “École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers”, and is this summer itself an artwork in the evenings (more on this tomorrow). Below is just one of a number of public sculptures which grace the town.

Sculpture, Cluny