CATHEDRAL QUEST: Our 2022 Cathedralquest to France Day 6 in Beaune and surrounding areas .





We slept a little late this morning because the maids, who turned down our bed last night, closed the shutters on our window…they are on the outside.  At 7:00 it was very dark in our room.  We finally got up and went to breakfast downstairs…it was outside in the courtyard.  Breakfast was cereals, meats, cheese, fruits, figs,  and breads.   They did have hard boiled eggs already cooked.

We left at 11:00 and headed to Autun, about an hour drive west.  It is on narrow roads through some beautiful vineyards and quaint little villages of 4-6 houses.  Since Sens, we have been in Burgundy – the wine country.   Many of the local wines are named after the little villages.   Ever since we have been in this area, we have seen many, many white cows grazing.  There was nowhere to stop and take a picture but they are wonderful to see.   We have new maps on our GPS, and one of the new features is a sound when you exceed the speed limit- the one that we have chosen is a cow mooing,  so we laugh every time we don’t slow down enough going through these little settlements and we see the white cows and hear “them” mooing in our car.

We arrived at noon in Autun, and the first thing that we saw was a McDonalds, so we stopped for lunch. Autun is a quaint town of 15,000.  We parked in the town center lot.



We hiked many blocks up the hill past a number of shops on both sides of the street to the Cathedral.  This cathedral is famous for the tympanum (statues) over the center front door.  

In the 13th century, Etienne de Bage, to avoid the possibility of conflict with Vezelay, decided to build a church for pilgrims dedicated to St. Lazarus, brother of Mary Magdalene whose relics were in Vezelay,. The relics of St. Lazarus were present at the Cathedral since the 10th century. At this time in history pilgrims were extremely widespread, and a new location for pilgrimage on the way to San Juan de Compostela not far from Vezelay, was the obvious thing to create.

The building work was completed extremely quickly and by 1146 the entire structure was finished, with the exception of the porch which was added a few years later. The remarkable spire was built in the late 15th century, lightning having destroyed the original Roman tower of which no trace nor even a drawing, now remains. The 14 chapels which lined both sides of the nave were built in the 16th century. The two towers and the portico were built in the late 12th century, the towers being modified in the 18th century, and partially rebuilt in the 19th century on the model of the towers at Paray le Monial.


The imposing porch housing the tympanum of the Last Judgment is the most remarkable aspect of the entire Cathedral.

This tympanum is signed by the sculptor: Gislebertus hoc fecit (Gislebert made this). The signature can be seen clearly below the feet of Christ in Majesty. Nothing more is known of Gislebert, apart from the fact that he came from Vezelay, as many sculptures there bear his name. The style of the sculpture was not always appreciated during the successive centuries. In 1766, the canons decided that the carvings were mediocre and childish, and had the tympanum filled with a layer of plaster without realizing that by doing so, they would preserve this work of art from vandalism during the French Revolution,. In 1837 another priest had the inspiration to scratch away the plaster and found the original tympanum in a perfect state of conservation. The head of Christ was missing. It is said that being in relief, it had hindered the work of the plasterers so they simply whacked it off. It ended up in the Rolin Museum in Vezelay. It was finally replaced in his original position in 1948.

It is not possible get a complete frontal view of cathedral because it sits on a very narrow street with buildings on the other side of the street.

On the interior, the shape of the vaulting and the fluting applied to the pillars are rather different from other churches of the time. The vaulting is not Gothic. There are no cross diagonal ribs. It is an equilateral form of semicircular Roman vaulting widely used from the late 11th century by the Cistercians in Cluny. Wanting to ensure direct lighting of the nave, they built the side aisles of very low elevation compared to the principle vaulting. Flying buttresses had not yet been invented, so the side aisles acted as buttresses. Flying buttresses were added in the 13th century. The upper part of the choir was rebuilt in this 15th century following the collapse of the Roman tower which was struck by lightning. There are amazing carvings on the capitals of the pillars.


The interior was rather dark and difficult to photograph. On the north wall near the choir, there is a elegant 15th century stone circular staircase which leads to the belfry. It is not open to visitors.







One of the north side a 15th century chapel contained the only remaining in the stained-glass window in the Cathedral. Dating from 1515, it shows the Tree of Jesse, the family tree of Christ. Jesse, the father of David, sits in the central lower part of the wind. The tree grows from his tunic, and his descendents appear as branches.


We spent about 2 hours in Autun.  

We drove back, going around Beaune, about a half hour to Abbaye Citeaux which was founded in 1098 by Robert of Molesme. The Abbey of Cîteaux is the birthplace of the Cistercian Order. Begun in great poverty, the community flourished, thanks to the arrival of Saint Bernard and his companions in the spring of 1113.


Two years later, Bernard, at the head of 12 monks, was sent to found Clairvaux. In the following 30 years, the abbot would see his community grow to nearly 500 brothers. By means of his writings and their influence, Saint Bernard would be the source of a veritable school of spirituality with which the Cistercians continue to be nourished to this day. At the end of the 12th century, the Order had more than 500 monasteries. Interrupted for 100 years by the Revolution, monastic life was re-established at Cîteaux in 1898.   

Today, a community of 35 brothers give themselves to prayer and to work, living under the Rule of Saint Benedict .    

Cîteaux and had undergone a lot of modernization in the last few years with a very modern chapel.  They offered tours in French, not English, and the next was from 5:00 to 6:15 so we decided not to stay because we had one other place we really wanted to see, and we had an 8:00 dinner reservation.



We left Cîteaux and drove about 20 minutes to the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot.   I had especially wanted to see this because it was one of my RECENT MODELS.  It is a very small model.  The Chateau was off the main road, and as we approached we saw hundreds of cars parked everywhere.  We finally found a place to park and walked some distance to the entrance.  It was closed (shucks) because of a wedding, but we could look around the outside and take photos.  Standing in the very heart of Burgundy’s vineyards, it was originally a wine farm, built in the 12th century by monks from the nearby Abbey of Cîteaux. In the 16th century, a Renaissance style château was added to the existing buildings.

With its medieval vat-house and presses, Cistercian cellar and original kitchens, it forms a unique architectural whole, attracting history lovers, architecture lovers and wine lovers. The Chateau du Clos de Vougeot also hosts famous receptions.  

Chateau du Clos de Vougeot does not produce wine anymore, but stays the symbol of Burgundy’s History. In 1934 a small group of Burgundians met in a celler in Nuits–St–Georges, and decided to form a society whose aim was to promote the wines of France in general and, in particular, Burgundy wines. The brotherhood was born and its renown spread throughout Europe and America.    

The Château was built in the Renaissance and restored in the 19th century. The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin acquired the Château in 1945, and started to restore it, turning it into the seat of the Order. It was wonderful to visit that even if we could not get in.  

When we got back to the hotel, the desk clerk ask about our day. We told her about the cars at Chateau du Clos de Vougeot, and she said it the marriage of the daughter of the lady who owns the restaurant where we were having dinner. She said that there had been about 500 people invited.   It was the first time in its history that it had been closed for a private function. And, of course, it was the day we visited! 

We stopped in the courtyard and had a drink before going to the room.   The adjacent restaurant, Loiseau des Vignes, is very famous.  The owner has two more restaurants in Paris and one in another part of France.  Our dinner was unbelievable.  The tables were nicely spaced, and those present were there for the entire evening.  Even though it was six courses each with its own wine, none of the courses were of very large, but they were delicious. They allowed a lot of time between courses.  I would describe each course to you but it was 11: 45 when we got back to our room and unfortunately I did not write it down.  I am editing my notes and posting our days adventure three years after the event. Unfortunately neither my wife or I can remember what we ate – but the entire experience was very memorable.




Day 1 - Paris

Day 2 - Sens

Day 3 - Vezelay 

Day 4 - Abbey Fontenay, Semur-en-Auxois, Vezelay -

Day 5 - Beaune

Day 6 - Beaune, Autun, Citeaux, Chateau du Clos Vougeot-

Day 7 - Cluny  

Day 8 - Cluny 

Day 9 - Paray-le-Monial and Clermont-Ferrard

Day 10 - Le Puy-en-Velay 

Day 11 - Avignon 

Day 12 - Avignon to Nimes

Day 13 - Avignon

Day 14 - Marseille

Day 15 - Marseille

Day 16 - Marseille

Day 17 - Marseille to Aigues-Mortes

Day 18 - Carcassonne 

Day 19 - Carcassonne to Toulouse  (posted 10/6/15)

Day 20 - Toulouse

Day 21 - Albi

Day 22 - Toulouse