Tag Archives: Burgundy

Medieval eye candy and Monsieur John Waters in Semur-en-Auxois

We had hardly arrived in Semur-en-Auxois when HOB started to worry: “But where will we catch our bus tomorrow?”  I was doing my best to oooh and aaaah at all the charming details of this quaint town in the Burgundy region of France, but HOB couldn’t focus.  Most places have well labeled bus stops complete with daily […]

The next time you’re in Vézelay tell the people with the elephant ears I said hi

We were all alone in Vézelay’s Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Abbey, the light was fading, darker, darker…and then we climbed down into the crypt.  No, not actually a horror story ending, but in fact the ending to a perfect day, a day we spent from sunup to sundown in and around one of the world’s greatest Romanesque churches. Vézelay […]

Hospices de Beaune: death’s fancy waiting room

The Chancellor of Burgundy, Nicolas Rolin, like a lot of other rich people in the 15th century, was trying to insure his place in heaven through charity to the poor.  He founded Hospices de Beaune (also known as Hôtel-Dieu) in 1443 as an almshouse during a time of terrible famine and disease. Most American guidebooks […]

The Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay: thumbs up from Bernard of Clairvaux

You know those fantastical hybrid animal monsters abounding in Romanesque church art?  They really pissed off Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux.  I love to read and re-read his attack on Romanesque art extravagances in his Apologia c. 1124: But these are small things; I will pass on to matters greater in themselves, yet seeming smaller because they […]

Rendezvous with my favorite artist, Gislebertus, at the Cathedral of Saint Lazare in Autun

The stone carvings at the Cathedral of Autun by my favorite artist, French Romanesque sculptor Gislebertus, knocked my socks off, made me laugh, and terrified me all at once.  Listen to me people: this is the real deal, some of the finest art you can ever see.  Sure, I want you to look at the pictures, […]

Abbaye Saint-Philibert in Tournus: tranverse barrel vault FOR THE WIN!

We visited stark Abbaye Saint-Philibert in Tournus on a chilly winter day.  (If you’re also visiting in winter, bundle up!)  The interior was….ingenious.  Apparently transverse barrel vaulting was invented here and it’s an engineering feet which turns the vaults that normally run the length of the church’s nave sideways, like a half barrel, and transfers the […]