As one of France’s world-famous wine producing regions, the Burgundy region is internationally renowned for both its gastronomic traditions and its extensive historical heritage. During the Medieval period the city of Dijon was a European centre of arts and science, and still today has numerous museums. The departments in Burgundy are: Côte-d’Or, Nièvre, Saône-et-Loire, Yonne.
Autun in Autumn – A Ville d’Art et d’Histoire in Burgundy
Founded by Emperor Augustus around 15 BC, in 725 AD Autun would be the eastern most reach of the Muslim Ummayads in Europe. Much later, in the 1830s the town witnessed the beginning of the modern oil shale industry, and in 1852 gave its name to the mineral Autunite. Autun is steeped in many facets of history. Not surprisingly then that this town in the heart of the French region of Burgundy is a designated town of art and history … Continue Reading >>
France is well known for having some of the finest prehistoric cave art in the World. Few, however, would associate the Burgundy region with cave art. While there may not be the number of decorated caves in Burgundy as there are in other regions of France, if you are visiting the region there is a site not to be missed. For a comprehensive guide to visiting cave art in France, including details about each cave, links to their websites and how to get the most out of your tour, whether you want to see a few of the best sites, or have a few days and want to see as much as you can … Continue Reading.
The Grottes d’Ary-sur-Cure show evidence of occupation since the time of the Neanderthals some 90,000 years ago. Although the Palaeolithic paintings of mammoths, bears and rhinoceros are much more recent (thought to have been painted between 35,000 and 28,000 years ago), they are nevertheless amongst the oldest painted images in Europe, second only to Chauvet Cave in the south of France. There are in fact two decorated caves, but only one is open to the public … go to Arcy-sur-Cure
Founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard, Fontenay Abbey is one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in Europe; and is now a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. The abbey has retained its Romanesque style, with the exception of the refectory which was destroyed in 1745. A guided tour enables you to see the very well preserved church, dormitory, cloister, council room, heating room, abbot’s lodgings, and the forge. Today the abbey hosts a range of cultural activities. [Website]
A visually striking geological feature, the Rock of Solutré now makes up the centrepiece of an archaeological and botanical park. For about 25,000 years during the Upper Palaeolithic period (from about 35,000 to 10,000 years ago) this was a much frequented hunting site. The sheer number of stone tools and bone remains makes this one of the richest prehistoric sites in Europe. At the foot of the rock feature is a museum that tells the story of this fascinating archaeological site. [Website]
With over 15 centuries of monastic history the Abbey of Saint Germain d’Auxerre offers visitors a fascinating experience of the Medieval era in this area of Burgundy. This former Benedictine Abbey still has the in situ remains of ninth century wall paintings – the oldest frescoes in France. Although parts of the nave were destroyed during the Revolution, a museum was created during twentieth century renovations, on display in which are prehistoric, Gallo-Roman and Medieval artefacts from Auxerre. [Website]
The Musée archéologique de Dijon is housed in the main wing of the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Bénigne. Exhibits represent the full sweep of humanity’s past in Burgundy, from prehistory to the Medieval period. Beneath the abbey’s vaults are Romanesque and Gothic sculptures, and Roman votive offerings found at the source of the Seine River. Perhaps the most exceptional collection is the so-called trésor de Blanot, a collection of pottery, clothing and jewellery in bronze and gold from the Bronze Age.
The 16th century Palais des Rolin is now home to the archaeology museum, Musée Rolin. Besides a substantial fine arts collection, there are also two permanent archaeological exhibitions: that of Medieval art and the history of the Roman town of Augustodunum, or Autun. There are various Roman objects on display, including numerous bronze figurines and a mosaic floor that depicts Neptune, but of particular note is a large collection of carved funerary stelae. [Website]
The Musée de la Résistance en Morvan was founded in 1983 by a group of academics from the University of Burgundy and members of the French Resistance. Period documents, photographs and objects (including an American pistol) are used to explore three themes: the occupation of France, the French Resistance, the Liberation of France, and remembrance. From the museum it is possible to follow Routes of Memory, to various historical sites in the area. [Website]
The following guidebooks for Burgundy are available on Amazon.com (see the same set of books on Amazon.co.uk):
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