Romanesque churches of the Brionnais

Spiritual journey through southern Burgundy

Grand or humble, high up in the village or tucked away between hedge-trimmed meadows, over 100 Romanesque churches and chapels bear witness to the influence of Cluniac art in southern Burgundy. A “Romanesque garden” in cattle-rearing country is part of the undeniable charm of the Pays Charolais-Brionnais.

The influence of Cluny

In the 11th century Saint Hugues was the Great Abbot of Cluny, the largest abbey in Christendom. From as far away as England and Spain, its many foundations are listed by the Fédération des Sites Clunisiens.

A great number of churches were built at this period of considerable religious fervour in the Middle Ages, many based on architectural concepts used at Cluny.

Octagonal bell towers, high relief carvings depicting the struggle between good and evil, chevets with low apses... This influence was strongest in the cattle-rearing area between the Arconce and Sorin rivers, at the heart of the old Brionnais bailliage.

Romanesque church trail

The Brionnais survived the violent feudal age and the end of the Ancien Régime relatively unscathed. Today you can still see this well-preserved “Romanesque garden” all around Semur-en-Brionnais:

The church at Montceaux l'Etoile has a superb allegory of the Ascension on its great door.

The priory of Anzy-le-Duc did not survive the French Revolution, but its church is still standing. With its slender octagonal tower, it is one of the loveliest churches in Burgundy.

On the last slopes of the Brionnais, the church of Saint-Nicolas in Marcigny, with its listed façade, is surrounded by attractive half-timbered houses. A little further on, the squat church at Iguerande, with few windows, stands high above the Loire plain.

The church at Châteauneuf-en-Brionnais was one of the last Romanesque buildings in Burgundy: its light and airy nave heralding the arrival of Gothic.

Where it all began...

Leaving from Paray-le-Monial will enable you to follow all three "Chemins du roman" routes, covering nearly 120 km. You can also start your tour at Semur-en-Brionnais, classed as one of the loveliest villages in France and birthplace of Saint Hugues.

Labels :

  • Pays d'Art et d'Histoire - Charolais Brionnais
PETR du Pays Charolais-Brionnais
7, rue des Champs Seigneurs - 71600 - PARAY-LE-MONIAL -
03 85 25 96 36
Informations pratiques
  • Attardez-vous à l'Office du Tourisme de Paray-le-Monial pour préparer votre séjour en Pays Charolais-Brionnais... Et visitez sa superbe basilique.

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