Saturday, 28 May 2016

The church and the priory of Chenôves

Saint-Blaise - Chenôves
Quite some years ago I have been looking for the possible remains of a priory in Chenôves. The church of Chenôves I knew already, although we had never seen the interior, but where this priory might be (if it existed at all) stayed a mystery. Recently it was time for one of the regular inventories of still outstanding items with van Boxtel, who came up with the following suggestion.

The church seen from the parvis
Resting against the west façade of the church a slightly higher building could be seen, and this could possibly be a part of the priory.
The problem with the Saint-Blaise is its accessibility, from one (south) side only. The parvis, if this bit of garden deserves that name is quite small, and further the church is enclosed by private buildings and farms. If one wants to catch a glimpse of the west or north side of the church, one has to either make a walk through the vineyards, or creep underneath barbed wire and wade through the man-size grass of a meadow.

South facade of the possible priory from the parvis
And even then the distances from which the church is visible are great, whilst part of the church is obscured by trees and shrubs anyway.
One beautiful morning, coinciding with the opening hours of the mairie of Chenôves, we drove towards that village. Having learnt from experience we did not approach the mairie first, but tested the church door instead.

North facade of the possible priory from the meadow
And yes, lo and behold, the church door (the south portal) was open. Unfortunately the door on the north side was still locked, the neighbouring houses showed no sign of life and all the gates to the property were closed. The trip through the vineyards and defying the barbed wire and the high grass was not granted by the discovery of a glorious priory.

Church interior
Fortunately we found an arch inside the church with on each side of the arch a wall panel with a fishbone pattern (opus spicatum). Hence the trip to Chenôves had not been completely in vain!
For our own website click here.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Cluny, Musée Ochier

The Palais de Jean de Bourbon, not far from the abbey church, houses the Musée Ochier which is officially called the Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie.

Claire-voie "des Vendanges" - Rue du Merle / Rue Joséphine Desbois
Even though the museum is strongly affiliated with the abbey it has considerably more to offer than the remains found during the excavations of the abbey grounds.

Claire-voie "des Vendanges" - Musée Ochier
In the streets of Cluny there are still some mediaeval houses which possess Romanesque claire-voies. These are decorated window galleries on the first floor of mediaeval dwellings.

Claire-voie "des Vendanges" - Musée Ochier
Quite a number of these houses have been demolished (partially during town renovations); the original claire-voies have in some cases been reused in other buildings or sold and transported elsewhere (one can even find them in the USA), in other cases they ended up in the Musée Ochier.

Animation Grand portail Cluny III - Musée Ochier
One of these houses is to be found in Cluny's main street (on the corner of 1, Rue du Merle and 2, Rue Joséphine Desbois). The original claire-voie "Des Vendanges" has been painted, as far as possible on the original location around the first floor windows. The remains of the claire-voie (the frieze supporting the columns is reasonably complete) however are on display in the museum, which makes a visit to the museum definitely worthwhile.

Frieze Narthex Cluny III - Musée Ochier
Apart from the claire-voies and smaller remains of Cluny III a few other highlights of the museum are parts of the frieze from the narthex of the church and the paltry remains of the tympanum of the grand portal of the abbey church.

Remains Grand portail Cluny III - Musée Ochier
The remains of the frieze are in good shape and give an excellent impression of the decorations used in Cluny III.
The portal was blown up, and what remains are some bits and pieces which are displayed on a background showing in an ingenious way the portal as it once was. However not all pieces on display are real. Some of the more complete fragments can be found in other museums in France (the Louvre, the Parisian Hôtel de Cluny); those parts on display in Musée Ochier are replicas.

Part of a claire-voie - Musée Ochier
The entrance tickets for the abbey are also valid for the museum, which should not be missed out on during a visit to Cluny.
Click here  for a reasonably complete overview of what is on offer inside the museum.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Cluny, farinier, a bonus

Besides the aforementioned eight capitals there are more things on display in the farinier.

Detail of marble altar tabletop
The marble altar tabletop stands in relation to the eight capitals roughly where it must have been in the choir, there are e few showcases with remains of various capitals, there are a few complete capitals, and what remains of the clôture of the monk's choir is displayed as well. The farinier also boasts a nice model of part of Cluny III.

Capitals and altar tabletop
Of the things mentioned I have made an arbitrary choice; this blog is not supposed to be a complete catalogue of Cluny's farinier.
However, there is more to see in the former abbey but the granary. The only part of the immense church that is still more or less intact, the great transept, is more than worth a visit.

And in the Palais du Pape Gélase (the entrance to the abbey) some more remains of the church are on display, and one can also view an interesting 3D-film about Cluny III. In a word: the abbey certainly justifies a detour!
By the way, it is also good to know that the ticket to the abbey is also valid fot the Musée Ochier in the Palais de Jean Bourbon (a stone throw away from the abbey entrance).

But I will save this interesting Museum for another blog.
Click here for the remaining capitals in the farinier.