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Fri, 26 Aug 2011

Dijon

My weblogging continues...

Today was meant to be the day I visited Gevrey-Chambertin. A train from Beaune stops there reguarly. I wanted to branch out, and see some of Burgundy beyond the Cotes de Beaune.

I hadn't counted on the weather. Rain, thunder, lightening. Not good. Especially with the grape harvest only days away. Mildew suddenly becomes a threat, and picking grapes in the rain is no fun.

So I go to Dijon. Dijon, to see the old streets and the cathedral with the gargoyles.

In Dijon, my first stop is the first church I see -- the church of St. Benigne. A lovely, typical Gothic church, it hides a secret: a romanesque crypt from the 11th century.

11th century crypt

I descend. The first room is low and wide, with many romanesque columns. A statue of Christ, his arms outstretched in welcome. Another room: a rotunda, surrounded by columns. An altar. A doorway through to a gallo-roman chapel, once at ground level, now part of the crypt. Another doorway leads off, to more passageways. Most are still blocked, buried, yet to be excavated.

Reluctantly, I head back up into the daylight. The museum of archaeology nextdoor beckons. Here I find more treasures: a bronze age gold torc, more than 1kg of gold -- a metal more common then, oddly, than now. A roman statue of doves. Post-roman enamels and belt-buckles, intricate in their working.

The best is in the lowest level: an old medieval room full of roman funerary memorials, memories of the long dead. Early medieval wooden figures, dredged from river mud.

Dijon street
Street in Dijon

Out in the light again, I head for the Palais des Ducs. A follow one sign, only to find it leads in the wrong direction. I find another, and follow that. After walking around in circles, I find it eventually. It is now the town hall and the Musee des Beaux Arts. I wonder around, and see what I can of the exterior.

I notice another church: Notre Dame. I am drawn by the impressive gargoyles on the exterior. Coming closer, I notice portions of the portice still have some of their original paint, just faint traces but still there.

wall painting

Inside, I notice a few original scraps of wallpainting survive from the 15th century. A service is in progress in a candlelit side chapel: song fills the church.

I head for the train. I don't like to leave: there is always one more thing to look at, another photograph to take. I don't want to miss the train, though. I head on.

At the station, I can't find the machine to validate my ticket. Eventually I find it, not on the platform, but inside the station. On the train I can relax: I haven't missed it, I'm getting back in time for dinner. Beaune beckons.

posted at: 09:09 | path: /travel/france/burgundy | permanent link to this entry

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