The Musée Ochier, in the abbey palace, has remains of Romanesque sculptures. Remains of both the abbey and the village constructed around it are displayed, as well as
part of the Monks' Library.
There are concerts there too. We walked in with the musicians, followed them to the Green Room and were promptly chased out by a very pleasant elderly lady. If you go in the front door, it is marked "interdit" but we had gone in with everyone else . . . who happened to be working there! What we saw was lovely.
Open May 2 to Aug. 31 open 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM
Open Sept. 1 to April 30 open 9:30 AM to noon and 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Fee is 6.50 euros
The Market in Cluny was of the better ones we attended in Burgundy. Very good fresh produce were on sal, and the whole town came alive.
Saturdays are market days.
Careful models of how Cluny III looked before its devastations, were made by Conant and his helpers. These are now exhibited with the recovered stonework in the Fariniere. They help a visitor to visualize the size and magnificence of the buildings and their protective fortifications.
It is important to realize that the carving of capitals began shortly after 1050 after centuries of an absence of sculptural technic. It began in a workshop (or two) in the Moissac and Toulouse area. These monasteries and churches were in very close affiliation with Cluny and undoubtedly the same craftsmen worked on capitals for Cluny. The crudeness of execution clealy shows common patterns. None of them resemble the finer work that would shortly be achieved by Gislebertus at Autun (about 1125 and later). It is clear that the recognition of the religious educational value of such objects was immediately incorporated into the Cluniac plan. Here we have a set of images related to the eating of the Apple and another of the aborted sacrifice of Isaac.
The 13C Flour Store being utilitarian was not destroyed during the Revolution. It retains its original chestnut roof on the upper story and today houses most of the sculptural finds (capitals and other decorations), models plus a few pieces of columns and an altar reconstructed like the choir. On the altar is a fine carving that we cannot decipher bearing a cross and two entwined snakes.
The Chapel of Jean de Bourbon was added to the South side of the shorter eastern second transept in 1456-85 and is in late Gothic style. Jean was the first commendatory Abbot and with his appointment , the monastery began its slow decline and loss of power. The12 carved consoles are of the prophets who supported a “related” Apostle (whose statues are gone). The association of each pair was a pronouncement of an article of the Creed. Such was the conceits of the time.
Essentially built between 1088 and 1130 (with additions) , Cluny III was at the time the largest Catholic church in Europe, 600 feet long and 100 feet high in the South Tower. The remains of the church are minimal but the giant transept is worth the visit. This great "ecclesiastical graduate school" turned out the best church managers for some three centuries. The Romanesque octagonal dome on squinches supports the "Tower of the Blessed Water". The more central bay chapel is a 14C addition and is Gothic. Further east is a second transept and a remnant of an aisle.
Do give yourself enough time to visit the abbey.
The 'tour' starts at the museum - you will find directions all over town 'abbey-tickets'. The tours are only in French, although you will pay the same entrance fee despite the fact that you will not understand a word of French. I did receive a comment fron a fellow VT'er that tours are available in English and other languages, we most probably visited the wrong day!
The whole tour is stretched out over several areas and can keep you busy for quite a few hours.
You will get a well designed leaflett which serves as a guide for the tour.
Entrance = Euro 6,50
Take the guided tour of the abbey. Our guide was very enthusiastic even if his english was not always up to the task.
The abbey was huge, you can only get an idea of its size from todays remains. The abbey grew in power until it rivalled Rome and was unimaginably rich. It was the largest building in the christian world until St Peters got a makeover.
However power corrupts and the abbey was no exception. The French crown eventually whittled the powers of the abbey back and the abbey population fell to such a level that it was unsustainable. The revolution was the final nail.
The remains today are still worth seeing, from all angles. The tour includes a great video where they have tried to reconstruct what the abbey must have looked like - very worth seeing.
Do visit this important archeological site. It is only about 30 minutes drive from Cluny. The museum is well designed and very informative. Audio is available in English.
After visiting the museum, you can take a hike to the top of the rock of Solutre.
Besides the amazing visit of the abbey, it is worth walking along the old walls. You will find original entrances, wash-houses, the other towers, the Hotel-Dieu de Cluny, and many other interesting sights.
You will also find a view point which gives great views of the town and surroundings.
This tower is apparently the oldest of all the surviving buildings of the abbey. Climb the stairs for an amazing 360 degree view. It also gives a better idea of how the abbey was built.
You buy tickets from the desk at the tourist info.
The next buiding is clearly marked as part of the abbey-tour. Here you will find many parts of the abbey which survived.
You will also be able to watch a very impressive 3-D movie of what the abbey must have looked like in its original condition. It is only in French - but the visuals are more than enough.
You can now continue your tour to the remains of parts of the abbey.
This includes the current university.
Your our can start at the ticket office. Here you can visit Jean de Bourbon's palace and Jaques d'Ambroise's palace.
There is a shop at the ticket office.
Leaving the ticket office you will see the arches on your right (entrance to abbey).
Continue to your left where you will see a huge area where a large part of the main abbey was built.
We weren't there on a Saturday so I don't have a photo but there is a market in the central square every Saturday morning. The flowers throughout the village were so pretty that I just know the market would be worth a visit. Perhaps you could time your visit on Saturday and visit the market first and the Abbey after lunch.
Just a thought.