Our Barge, Odysseus

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to the Medieval - Brancion and Cluny

Sunday started off clear but by the time we hit the road it had clouded over again. We headed for Brancion anyway; when we visited on Friday we hadn't gone inside the remains of the chateau and it seemed like we really should.
Only residents are allowed to bring their cars into the village, everybody else has to park outside and walk in.
The town is perched on a spur of land between two ravines overlooking the countryside. Its dominated by the remains of the feudal castle which dates back to the 12th century.

One wall of the ruined interior showed an old fireplace with it's flanking windows.

Climbing to the top of the tower gives a great view of the village, with the church on the end of the plateau and the limestone-roofed market hall.

After Brancion, if was off to the abbey town of Cluny, and now it was really raining.
The monastery in Cluny was formed in 910 and it only took a couple of dynamic abbots to build the abbey into a major power. The abbot was very close to the Pope and the abbey church was, until the 1800's second only to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. All over the region, monks from Cluny built their distinctive, romanesque churches. But, as happens, the power of Cluny declined and in the 1800's the abbey church was mostly dismantled for it's building materials.
We never could figure out why the tower in town is called the Tour des Fromages, the Cheese Tower, but we climbed it for the view.

After Cluny it ws back to the boat. The car had to be turned in Monday morning and after a train ride back to Tournus, we'd be heading back north.
But first, one of the reasons we're here.

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