Saturday, 29 August 2015


Eglise Saint-Barthélémy- exterior
The problem with having seen almost all churches in Saône-et-Loire is that the remaining churches are located quite far apart, and hence it is difficult to combine a few churches in one visit. Dracy-lès-Couches is not very far from Collonge-la-Madeleine, hence I could at least combine those two places.

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy- interior
Having learned from previous experiences we had phoned the mairie a few weeks before to find out a) whether they had the key and were willing to hand them to us, and b) whether the mairie was indeed open the day we had planned. And that was a good idea as well. The secretary told us that since she often stayed later than required, she opened the mairie later as well. I was no use to go there at 15h00; before 15h30 there would be nobody there.

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy- interior
Although the timeslot between Dracy and Collonge could be filled with yet another church, we were at the mairie just after three. Fortunately the secretary was also a bit earlier than "normal" so we did not have to wait very long.
And even though the church interior was far from spectacular, it was interesting enough to justify the trip.
The result was also, that another church we had not been able to see from the inside could be scrapped from our to do list!

Eglise Saint-Barthélémy- interior
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


One of the walks around Dracy
On one of our quests in search of Romanesque churches we started to look for the former church of Dracy-lès-Couches (near Couches), or the remains there of. This is what we knew:
Dracy-lès-Couches : vieux-cimetière (East side): pans de mur, tombes. Church has been demolished and was replaced by a new one elsewhere; do not bother to go to the new church.
After having done some research we found that one of the signposted walks around Dracy was passing by this ex-church; we found the walk on the internet and we had even spotted some reference on a map to "Ruines Eglise". One would think that after this information the church should not be difficult to find….

The signpost
Based on the above we went to Dracy in July 2014, and lo and behold, we found a signpost saying "Ruines Eglise 300 m". We slithered down the path (it had been continuously raining for the last few weeks, turning the paths into mud covered tracks) and at approx. 300 m we stopped at a gate, with another very muddy path leading to the left and an overgrown bit of woods on the right. Since the paths were so impassable we decided to stop there, again trying to locate an old cemetery left or right from the path we walked down to go back to the car. No need to say that this did not reveal anything; we decided to wait for the dry season and go back again one day.

The signpost disappeared!
That day came, almost spot on, one year later. Our department had suffered from a severe heat wave for a number of weeks by then, without one drop of rain, hence the paths should be no problem this time. However, the pole where we had seen the sign "Ruines Eglise 300 m" was still there, but the sign had disappeared. Only the fixing clips were still there. The paths were no problem this time, and at what we thought to be roughly the 300 m point we took the path to the right for another 300 m, went back, then went down a dry ditch for 200 m, an turned back again.

The path is on the left, the shrubs with the church and graveyard are on the right
On the point where we had turned off to the left however, there was a heap of old stones on the right hand side, at the bottom of the slightly higher wooded area. I thought that this might well be the "remains" of the church, took a picture of it and was about to walk back to the car. My better half however is blessed with a bit more patience than I can muster, and she had disappeared in between the trees behind "my" heap of stones. After a few minutes she shouted "I found it!".

When I climbed the low hill I saw her stooped over some gravestones, hence she had found the cemetery. From "my" heap of stones we then found the foundation of a wall running east-west, and following the foundation we indeed found some heavily overgrown small remains of what must have been the wall of the church. So we had finally found that church! One would say: and, was it worth it? That is debatable, but the picnic we had afterwards certainly was worth the trip!

Part of the church wall
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 1 August 2015


How the French manage to create adjectives which are not or with great difficulty to be traced back to their basis will remain one of life's mysteries.

Abbaye de Cîteaux
A simple example: what are the inhabitants of the Île-de-France called? Franciliens of course! These sort of questions are quite popular in French quiz programs.
Slightly more farfetched is "cistercien", derived of course from Cîteaux, a place not far from Dijon, where the Cistercian monastic (Benedictine) order was founded. This order was at some stage heavily opposed to the Cluniac order, a monastic order, as one might have guessed, from Cluny. Cluny, according to the abbots of Cîteaux, had deviated too far from the rules of Benedict (ora et labora, pray and work).

Abbatiale - Cîteaux
The Cistercian order had, like its Cluniac opposite, many daughters and grand-daughters, of which a number in Provence are still in good order, and there are even a few abbeys operational (such as Sénanque).
The Cistercian monasteries were all built according to a similar plan. One could call them the inventors of modular building. The original Mother monastery Cîteaux ceased to exist around the French revolution, but was reinstated at the end of the 19th Century.

Officie - Cîteaux
Unfortunately almost all mediaeval buildings (such as the abbey church, cloister, etc.) are demolished, and rebuilt in a modern style. Despite this we always had in mind to visit this mother monastery of which we had seen so many daughters. There are organised tours, which can be booked through Internet.
As we had expected, apart from the library and the noviciat there were no other old buildings on the site.

Chapelle - Cîteaux
The tour starts in the reception area, where an excellent photo exhibition gives an overview of the very strict time table for the day as written down by Benedictus. After this introduction to the monastic life an overview is given of where the Cistercians are active nowadays (that is, outside Europe, in countries like Indonesia, the USA, South-America, etc.).
Next is a short visit to the cells on the ground floor of the library, and a more extensive visit to the first floor, which hosts a lovely collection of copies of illuminated letters (the originals are in Dijon).

Library - Cîteaux
The noviciat shows a number of things the monks occupy or occupied themselves with, and finally there was a film about monastic life.
Of the original (wooden) church only the foundation outline (in reinforced concrete) can be seen, and the same goes for the former hospital. In a few words: those interested in the history and development of Cîteaux will be a bit disappointed. Those however interested in the religious background of the monks of Cîteaux are being served well.

Kestrel - Cîteaux
Still, it is an interesting experience wondering around those historical grounds….
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.