Backroads of France : Cluny and Castles

    On the way back to Dijon after our weekend in Lyon we took the opportunity to stop in the village of Cluny. Once the most powerful center of the Catholic church, the Abbey of Cluny is now only the remains of one of the church towers. Built in the 10th century in Romanesque style, I couldn’t help but think about my dear old home, Santiago de Compostela – and all of the camino to Santiago – where you can find incredible examples of Romanesque art and architecture. Although, Cluny wasn’t a road to Santiago, the impact of Santiago on Medieval Europe is evident as Cluny is located close to one of the French beginnings of the Camino, Vezelay.

      Cluny today is only 10% of what it once was, but until the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome it was the largest Christian church. The abbey suffered from financial and political problems for centuries and was finally destroyed in the years after the French revolution-its stones used to build houses in the village.

The visit to the abbey today consists of a 3D film showing the construction of the abbey and a short tour of the remains, which include screens recreating what the views once were. After, we took some time to walk through the  the village with colorful storefronts and little brasseries nestled into the winding streets, and stopped for a take away quiche lorraine for lunch from a local bakery-a fast, typical and inexpensive lunch that is perfect if you are on a budget!

      The drive home led us to the back roads of Burgundy, past more picturesque villages and fields of lazy cows, until we suddenly drove past a castle just a few hundred feet from the highway…moat and willow tree island included. I wasn’t sure if it was real, or just a tourist attraction, but we decided to take some pics…I was (and still am!) pretty excited, we found a castle in the middle of nowhere! (We found Winterfell!) Most signs were pointing to it being real (ha yea, I’m American, the only real castles we have are at Disneyworld), so when we got home I googled the town, and sure enough it is a castle built in the 12th century, that survived the 100 years war, and is currently owned by an heir to the family. Oh, France!  
Bisous, Dianne
ps…Sorry about the long break this week, I’ve had a busy busy week, but I’ll be back with more great posts next week!
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