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Burgundy is synonymous with great wines and rich cuisine. Yet, the most brilliant jewels in Burgundy’s crown are monuments of mediaeval and Early Renaissance art and architecture, covering more than four centuries. During the 11th century, crusaders and pilgrims alike traversed the region, prompting the foundation of numerous churches built in the Romanesque style. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the region rose again to splendour under the Valois Dukes who presided over what was then Europe’s most illustrious court. Their realm stretched from “watery” Burgundy – the prosperous cities of Flanders – to Dijon, “winey” Burgundy’s distinguished capital. At the heart of the latter lies the charming town of Beaune, surrounded by the famous vineyards of the Côte d’Or. From here, this Art Pursuits Study Tour will explore art and architecture of this charmingly rustic part of France, as well as sample some of the region’s culinary delights.
Coach excursion to study the ruins of Cluny, once the most prestigious of Benedictine abbeys. After lunch, continue to Berzé-la-Ville where the Cluniac abbots withdrew from the hustle and bustle of monastic life, to admire magnificent Romanesque wall-paintings. At Tournus we will see the abbey church of St Philibert. Return to Beaune and dinner in a restaurant near the hotel.
Coach excursion to Fontenay, the beautifully restored Cistercian house founded by Bernard of Clairvaux in a secluded valley. After a picnic lunch, continue to Vézelay, where mediaeval pilgrims once flocked to see the shrine of St Mary Magdalene and where St Bernard preached the Second Crusade. Return to Beaune for an independent evening.
Morning walk through Beaune, sampling the delights of this beautiful town: the collegiate church of Nôtre-Dame with 15th-century tapestries and the Hôtel Dieu, a hospital founded by Chancellor Nicolas Rolin, home to the spectacular Last Judgement polyptych painted by Rogier van der Weyden, the Netherlandish artist. Afternoon coach excursion to Autun, Roman Augustodonum, with impressive remains of a Roman theatre and city gates and the fine hilltop cathedral of St Lazare with its dramatic portal and capitals carved in the 1130s by Gislebertus. Return to Beaune via the celebrated vineyards of the Côte d’Or.
By coach to Dijon, capital of the Burgundian Valois Dukes. Visit the remains of the Chartreuse de Champmol, the Carthusian monastery just outside the city with Claus Sluter’s Puits de Moïse and chapel portal. The Musée des Beaux-Arts has further masterpieces, most notably Sluter’s Tomb of Philip the Bold, surrounded by an unforgettable procession of alabaster pleurants. After lunch take the TGV to Paris for a late afternoon Eurostar train to London St Pancras.
Near the historic centre of Beaune, the Hôtel de la Poste is a spacious and stylish 4-star hotel featuring period furniture and modern facilities. The hotel boasts an on-site restaurant, Le Relais, serving delicious, gourmet cuisine prepared with local produce, as well as a cosy bar, terrace, and gardens. All 36 beautifully decorated rooms boast premium bedding, air conditioning, and free WiFi.
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