MICHELIN Travel Discover the world
Home > > > > > > Art and culture Burgundy Jura

Where to sleep?

View 847 hotels for Burgundy Jura

Art and culture

Enlarge map

Art and culture


Religious Architecture

In Burgundy

Burgundy has a rich artistic tradition. Since Antiquity, the region has been a crossroads where a wide variety of peoples and influences have met. The treasure found near Vix shows that strong currents were active in the region of Châtillon-sur-Seine in about the 6C BC.

In the 15C, on the initiative of the Great Dukes, artists from Paris and Flanders settled in Dijon, which became an important artistic centre.

This penetration of foreign influences, and the enduring qualities of Roman civilization, combined with the expression of the Burgundian temperament, led to a blossoming of regional art that holds a special place in French artistic history.

Pre-Romanesque – The Carolingian epoch (8C-9C) saw architectural revival in Burgundy in particular. The religious buildings were simple. Part of the former crypt of the cathedral of St-Bénigne at Dijon and the crypts of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain and St-Germain of Auxerre are among the oldest examples.

Romanesque – Numerous towns, wealthy abbeys and abundant building material were favourable conditions in which the Romanesque School of Burgundy flourished, showing an extraordinary vitality in the 11C and 12C, not only in architecture, but in sculpture and painting. The school’s influence spread far beyond Burgundy’s borders.

In the year 1000, the desire to build was given fresh impetus by the end of invasions, the strengthening of royal power and new building techniques.

Early Burgundian Romanesque churches – Among the great builders of this period, Abbot Guglielmo da Volpiano , of Italian origin and related to some of the greatest families of his time, built a new basilica in Dijon on the site of the tomb of St Bénigne. The building, begun in 1001, was consecrated in 1018.

Though this abbey was destroyed by fire in the 12C, the church of St-Vorles in Châtillon-sur-Seine – much modified in the first years of the 11C – provides an example of the features of Romanesque art at this time: slipshod building methods with badly placed flat stones; thick pillars; crude decoration of mural niches; and cornices with Lombard arcades.

The most striking example of the architecture of this time is the church of St‑Philibert in Tournus . The narthex and the upper storey of the narthex, built at the beginning of the 11C, are the oldest extant parts to date. The most striking aspect of this solid, powerful architecture is its sober, almost austere style.

Cluny and its school – Although in the beginning Romanesque art owed much to foreign influences, the following period witnessed the triumphant emergence of a new style from Cluny, which was to spread throughout Burgundy.

In 1247 an Italian visitor noted that “Cluny is the noblest Burgundian monastery of the Benedictine Black Monk order. The buildings are so extensive that the Pope with his cardinals and entire retinue and the king and his court may be accommodated together, without upsetting the monks’ routine or putting them out of their cells”.

The extent and exceptional size of the remains of the abbey, which was started by St Hugh in 1088 and completed about 1130, are still impressive and allow one to recognise the general characteristics of the School of Cluny.

Burgundian architects avoided semicircular vaulting and substituted broken-barrel vaulting which was far more efficient at withstanding the strains and stresses of the building. This style of vaulting consists of each bay having a transverse arch; the use of broken arches reduces stress and thereby the weight on the walls, thus making it possible to raise the vaulting to a far greater height. The pillars are flanked by fluted pilasters in the Antique style; a false triforium of alternating bays and pilasters, surmounted by a clerestory, runs above the narrow arches. This arrangement of three storeys rising to a pointed vault is found in many churches in the region.

The priory church of Paray-le-Monial is a smaller replica of the great abbey church at Cluny. At Semur-en-Brionnais , home of the family of St Hugh, the church is almost as high as Cluny. On the interior of the west front, the gallery is similar to one in St-Michel in Cluny.

Vézelay and its influence – The Cluny School was repudiated by a whole family of churches, the purest example of which is the basilica of Ste-Madeleine in Vézelay , although there are others that display characteristics even further removed from Cluny. Built at the beginning of the 12C, Vézelay constitutes the synthesis of true Burgundian Romanesque architecture.The essential difference between this church and earlier Romanesque buildings is that the nave has groined vaulting whereas up to that time only the side aisles had this feature, their small size mitigating the risk of the vaulting subsiding as a result of lateral pressure.

This design, originally without the support of flying buttresses which were added in the Gothic period, required the incorporation of iron bars to prevent the walls of the nave from bulging outwards.

Clerestory windows placed directly above the main arches opened onto the axis of each bay, shedding light into the nave. Columns projecting slightly from the walls replace the rectangular pilasters of Cluny style. The vaulting is supported by semicircular transverse arches.

The church in Anzy-le-Duc appears to have served as a model for the building in Vézelay; it is probable that Renaud de Semur , who came from the Brionnais region, wished to rebel against the all-powerful influence of Cluny and took as his model the church in Anzy-le-Duc, which at that time was the most perfect piece of architecture of the region. There is no shortage of points of comparison: the elevation of the storeys is the same; both have a solitary window above the main arches; both share the same style of semicircular vaulting and cruciform pillars flanked by engaged columns. This style, created in Anzy-le-Duc and perfected in Vézelay, has been copied in St-Lazare in Avallon and St-Philibert in Dijon .

Fontenay and the Cistercian School – Cistercian architecture first appeared in Burgundy in the first half of the 12C (Cistercium was the Latin name for the town of Cîteaux). It is characterised by a spirit of simplicity in keeping with the teaching of St Bernard . He objected bitterly to the luxury displayed in some monastic churches, opposing the theories of some of the great builders of the 11C and 12C with extraordinary passion. His argument against the belief of abbots such as St Hugh, Peter the Venerable and Suger, who believed that nothing could be too rich for the glory of God, was expressed for example in the letter he wrote to William, Abbot of St-Thierry, in which he asks, “Why this excessive height in the churches, this enormous length, this unnecessary width, these sumptuous ornaments and curious paintings that draw the eye and distract attention and meditation? ...We the monks, who have forsaken ordinary life and renounced worldly wealth and ostentation for the love of Christ, ...in whom do we hope to awaken devotion with these ornaments?”.

There is nonetheless a certain grandeur even in the sobriety and austerity that he advocated. The uncluttered style and severe appearance reflected the principles of Cistercian rule, which regarded everything that was not indispensable to the development and spread of the monastic way of life as harmful.

The Cistercians almost always insisted on the identical plan of construction for all the buildings of their order and themselves directed the work on new abbeys. The abbey of Fontenay is a good example of the standard plan. This design is found throughout Europe from Sicily to Sweden. Every new monastery was another link with France, and craftsmen followed the monks. It was the turn of the Burgundian Cistercian monasteries to spearhead the expansion of monasticism.

In Cistercian churches , the blind nave is covered by broken-barrel vaulting, as at Cluny; the side aisles are generally arched with transverse barrel vaulting, and their great height enables them to take the thrust of the nave. This is found in many 12C Burgundian churches.

The transept, also of broken-barrel vaulting, juts far out and has two square chapels opening into each transept arm. The choir, of broken-barrel vaulting, is square and not very deep. It ends in a flat chevet lit through two tiers of three windows. Five windows are placed above the chancel arch, and each bay of the side aisles is also lit through a window.

The fact that most Cistercian churches have no belfry is evidence of St Bernard’s desire to adhere to poverty, humility and simplicity. Living far from their fellow men, the religious communities did not wish to attract the faithful from far and wide. Belfries, which drew attention to the existence of a church by their silhouette and shape, were thus banned.

By avoiding all decoration, be it painting or sculpture, and by eliminating every kind of superfluous ornamentation (such as stained-glass windows, or illuminated paving stones), Cistercian art achieved a remarkable purity of execution.

Gothic – About the middle of the 12C and perhaps even earlier, pointed vaulting made its appearance in Burgundy, the prelude to a new development in architecture. The Gothic style, which originated in the Parisian region (Ile-de-France), penetrated slowly into Burgundy, where it was adapted according to circumstances and trends.

Period of transition – In 1140, the gallery of the narthex at Vézelay was given pointed vaulting. The Cistercians were among the first to adopt this style of architecture and used it at Pontigny in about 1150. The choir of Ste-Madeleine at Vézelay , the work of Abbot Gérard d’Arcy , was started in the last years of the 12C; the flying buttresses were not added until the 13C. It was in the 13C that a Burgundian Gothic style emerged in religious buildings.

First half of the 13C – The church of Notre-Dame in Dijon , built between 1230 and 1251, is the most perfect and best-known example of this style. Its characteristics are found in many religious buildings of the period in Burgundy; beyond the transept, the fairly deep choir is flanked by apsidal chapels (there are generally two) and ends with a high apse. The use of sexpartite vaulting permitted the replacing of the uniformly sized pillars with alternating thick and thin pillars. A triforium runs above the great arches; at the clerestory level, the nave wall is set back slightly allowing for a gallery above that of the triforium.

In the external decoration, the presence of a cornice goes round the choir, the nave, the apse, or the belfry and is a typically Burgundian mode of decoration.

Among the buildings constructed in this style, the most important are: Auxerre Cathedral , the collegiate church of St-Martin in Clamecy and the church of Notre-Dame in Semur-en-Auxois . In the latter, the absence of a triforium further enhances the effect of dizzying height created by the narrow nave.

End of the 13C – Architecture now became much lighter and developed a boldness, seeming to defy the laws of gravity.

The choir of the church of St-Thibault in Auxois is in such a style, with its keystone at a height of 27m/89ft. The five-sided, four-storey apse is amazingly light. Below the highest windows is a clerestory composed of three tiers reaching to the ground: the top tier is a gallery, the middle one is composed of pairs of radiant windows and the bottom tier consists of blind arcades.

The church of St-Père shares certain similarities with Notre-Dame in Dijon, but it differs in its height, being of two storeys with a gallery in front of the windows.

14C – The Flamboyant Gothic style, characterised by the pointed, S-shaped ogee arch, appeared; the number of ribs multiplied and the capitals were reduced to a simple decorative role or were sometimes even dispensed with completely.

This period did not produce any really fine buildings in Burgundy.

Renaissance – Under Italian influence, Burgundian art took a new turn in the 16C with a revival of Antique styles.

In architecture the transition from Gothic to Italian art met with some resistance. The church of St-Michel in Dijon shows evidence of this: whereas the nave (started at the beginning of the 16C) is an imitation of Gothic art, the façade (built between 1537 and 1570) is a perfect example of the Renaissance style, with two towers divided into four storeys, on which Ionic and Corinthian orders are superimposed alternately, three semicircular doorways and the porch with its richly sculpted coffered vaulting all reflecting a strong Italian influence.

In Jura

The religious architectural heritage of the region of Franche-Comté is indebted to the numerous monastic communities in the region during the Middle Ages. The monks played a vital role in the development of this rugged, primitive country. By the Merovingian period, two abbeys were already making waves throughout the region: Luxeuil in the north and Condat (later St-Claude) in the south. The former rapidly became an intellectual centre exerting an influence on the whole of Gaul – in particular in Lure – whereas the latter devoted its energies to spreading the Christian message and to the enormous task of clearing space in the forests of Jura.

Unfortunately, the anarchy which greeted the end of Carolingian rule sounded a death knell for both these abbeys. In the 10C, the Benedictines thus faced the task of winning back territory in Burgundy. They were followed by the Cluny order, which soon dominated the province. However, in the 12C the Cluny order it-self had to give way to the innumerable Cistercian communities which were springing up. At the same time, communities were being set up by the Premonstratensians, the Augustinians and the Carthusians who all threw themselves into clearing the forest and draining the soil, thus attracting their share of local residents, who set up communities round their abbeys. The churches, which are now used as parish churches, were originally monastery churches usually built according to the rules of the religious order which was to use them: thus, the Benedictine order introduced a primitive architectural style influenced by early Italian basilicas; the Cluny order preferred Burgundian style churches; and the Cistercians built churches with a flat chevet, like that at Cîteaux, and generally paved the way for Gothic art.

Romanesque – There is no Romanesque art specific to the region of Franche-Comté; the primitive churches built there during the Romanesque period drew on Burgundian and Lombard architecture for their inspiration. They generally have a basilical floor plan with a transept hardly wider than the nave itself. The chancel ends in a semicircular apse, flanked by two apsidal chapels opening into the transept, or it ends in a flat chevet (as in the church at Courtefontaine). Large arcades are supported by heavy pillars, which can be square, round or octagonal, with no capitals. The buildings and pillars are often made of small quarry stones. The nave and side aisles were originally covered by a timber roof, which was later replaced by ogival vaulting. The roofs over the side aisles are sometimes groined vaulting. The apse and apsidal chapels are closed off by half domes. The roof above the transept crossing is either a dome or a bell-tower, which never features as part of the façade.

The churches of Jura are typically understated, and the absence of almost any decoration further underlines their austerity. The churches of St-Hymetière and St-Lupicin (early 12C), Boussières , the crypt of St-Denis at Lons-le-­Saunier are the best preserved examples. The cathedral of St-Jean at Besançon is almost the only remaining trace of Rhenish Carolingian influence in Franche-Comté; it has an apse at either end of its nave. Inside, square sturdy pillars alternate with round slender ones, creating a regular division of space.

Gothic – Romanesque art continued to exert its influence in Franche-Comté for some time. Thus, at the end of the 13C, which marked the culmination of the great period of creativity in Gothic art elsewhere, there were still numerous Romanesque features evident in buildings in Franche-Comté which had adopted the new style. The most typical and best-preserved example of this period of transition is the church of St-Anatoile at Salins. This has a semicircular arched doorway, large pointed arches in the nave and a triforium with Romanesque arcades. It is in fact this long-lasting preference for semicircular arches that gives the churches of Franche-Comté their distinctive character. The Gothic style did not really become widespread in Franche-Comté until the middle of the 15C, when Flamboyant Gothic features were adopted. It did not reach its apogee there until the following century, even surviving into the middle of the 17C, when the Renaissance style was already starting to decline in other parts of France.

Flamboyant Gothic churches in Franche-Comté typically have three tall blind naves separated by elegant pointed arches supported on round pillars. The ribs from the vaulting and the moulding from the arches run down these pillars. The church is topped by an enormous bell-tower. Large windows shed light into the deep, five-sided choir (St-Claude Cathedral, Poligny Collegiate Church), which is flanked by two chapels. These open onto the transept, which is a little wider than the nave. However, vaulting is generally uncluttered and only seigneurial chapels, such as the Chalon family chapel at Mièges, have ornate features.

Renaissance – The Italian Renaissance had little effect on the religious architecture of Franche-Comté, which adhered to Flamboyant Gothic until quite late on. The new style was applied, once it began to make its influence felt, for the most part to church annexes, such as chapels (Pesmes) or entrance doorways (Collège de l’Arc at Dole).

Classical to modern periods – Classica l art was slow to catch on in Franche-Comté; it only really began to make its mark from 1674 onwards, when the churches destroyed during the Ten Years War (1633-43) and the destructive campaigns of Louis XIV were being re-built. The small size and run-down nature of the churches which had survived from the Middle Ages, coupled with a huge rise in population figures from the middle of the 18C, may explain the great number of construction projects undertaken up until the Revolution.

The most characteristic feature from this period, which typifies the religious architecture of the region as a whole, is the way the porch is incorporated in a bell-tower, which is surmounted by an imperial style pointed dome, formed of four reversed curve sides covered with glazed tiles. There are three common layouts: a church with a single nave, with or without a transept; a church with a centralised floor plan, either octagonal or in the shape of a Greek cross; or a hall-church with three naves of equal height, generally without a transept. The naves are covered by pointed vaulting, and need buttresses outside to counteract the outward pressure which might otherwise make the walls bulge at the top. The interior is often painted white, apart from the columns, pillars and ribs, which are picked out in grey. The façade is enlivened by frontons, pilasters and columns.

In the late 18C and early 19C, the neo-Classical style took over, with consciously simple, almost austere ornamentation. As in the Antique temples, the straight line replaced the curve, and side aisles with ceilings took the place of the side naves with pointed vaulting of the hall-churches. The central nave was covered with a barrel vault.

After 1850, the neo-Gothic style reintroduced pointed arches.

During the contemporary period, Jura is proud of the fact that it has been the setting for a revival of religious art. Since the 1950s and 1960s, some important architectural projects have been undertaken, for example, at Audincourt, Ronchamp and Dole. A desire to emphasize the spirituality of such places is often evident in the powerful movement of the line of the building and in the way the decorative effects of light have been employed.

Many artists, such as Manessier, Gabriel Saury, Bazaine, Le Moal and Fernand Léger, have contributed in the same spirit, giving a new or renewed vitality to religious buildings with their stained-glass windows, sculptures, mosaics or tapestries.


Civil and Military Architecture

In Burgundy

Gallo-Roman art – The Romans were responsible for many monuments in Burgundy. To this day the town of Autun , built by order of Emperor Augustus to replace Bibracte, capital of the Aedui tribe, recalls Roman civilization with its monumental gateways and vast theatre.

Excavations at Alésia , the possible site of the camp where Vercingetorix made his last stand in 52 BC, have led to the discovery of a complete town built a little later, including paved streets, the foundations of temples and a forum, and many dwellings. Other excavations out at the source of the Seine have revealed the ruins of a temple and a number of bronze statuettes and wooden sculptures. Pottery dating from Gallo-Roman times as well as examples of gold and silver work of great value were found more than 50 years ago at Vertault , not far from Châtillon-sur-Seine .

At Dijon , the remains of an entrenched camp (Castrum Divionense), built about AD 273, have been uncovered. Excavations at Fontaines-Salées near St-Père-sous-Vézelay have revealed very extensive Gallo-Roman baths.

Gothic – Fine mansions and houses built by wealthy merchants in the 15C have survived in Dijon and some other towns, such as Flavigny-sur-Ozerain and Château­neuf . Part of the palace of the dukes of Burgundy in Dijon, the synodal palace in Sens and the hospital in Beaune all date from this period. Among the fortified castles of the 13C, those of Châteauneuf, built by Philippe Pot the Seneschal of Burgundy, Posanges and the ducal palace at Nevers are particularly interesting.

Renaissance – There was no blossoming of Renaissance châteaux in Burgundy, however, towns such as Ancy-le-Franc , Tanlay and Sully boast some magnificent mansions.

Classical – The reunion of Burgundy with the crown of France marked the end of the duchy’s political independence, but its artistic expression survived. Classical art, initially imitated from Paris and later Versailles, is to be seen in Dijon in the layout of the Place Royale , the alterations to the old Palais des Ducs and in the building of the new Palais des Ducs. Many fine mansions were built by the families of parliamentarians who were in favour at Court at the time and who held high positions.

Although retaining the characteristics of the Renaissance period, the Hôtel de Vogüé (built 1607-14) features the new design where the living quarters are set back behind a courtyard with access to the street only through the coach gateway, with the opposite façade of the house opening onto the gardens.

Among the numerous châteaux built in the 17C and 18C, those of Bussy-Rabutin , Commarin , Grancey , Beaumont-sur-Vingeanne , Menou and Talmay deserve a special mention. The sculptors – Dubois in the 17C and Bouchardon and Attiret in the 18C – were very influential, as were painters and draughtsmen such as Greuze and François Devosge and above all Mignard , master painter at the court of Louis XIV.

Burgundy prides itself on its contribution to the musical world, Jean-Philippe Rameau , born in Dijon at the end of the 17C. He was a contemporary of Bach and Handel and ranks as one of the great French classical composers. Besides many pieces for the harpsichord, he composed some operas, of which one, Les Indes Galantes, is still included in the contemporary repertoire.

19C and 20C – In architecture, Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), an engineer from Dijon, specialised in metal construction: bridges, viaducts etc. The mention of his name conjures up the tower he erected in Paris for the universal exhibition in 1889; its structure is based on a web of girders.

In Jura

The architectural heritage of Franche-Comté reflects its turbulent history. The region was regularly subjected to the ravages of war and invasion, and it spent most of its rare periods of peace rebuilding its ruins. For this reason, there are relatively few real architectural masterpieces. However, the restrained style of the buildings has its own charm. During the Gallo-Roman period, Sequania was wealthy, but little trace of this glorious past remains after the invasions of the 9C and 10C. The Roman triumphal arch which the inhabitants of Besançon call Porte Noir (the black gate), the Roman road at Boujailles, the remains of a theatre at Mandeure near Montbéliard are about all that is left from this period.

The Middle Ages – After the Carolingian invasions and the subsequent disintegration of Carolingian rule, power devolved into the hands of local lords. These felt the need to protect themselves and their property, and turned to the Scandinavians for a design of fairly crude castle: the keep or castle mound (11C). This consisted of an earth mound surrounded by a moat, and surmounted by a square wooden tower, which was later replaced by a stone tower.

At the same time, stone fortresses (Pesmes, Champlitte) made their appearance, generally on existing hills. The surrounding fortified wall – a stone embankment with a moat around its outer edge – enclosed the living quarters and outbuildings, whereas the keep remained the stronghold. This kind of fortress reached its apogee in the late 12C and the 13C.

At this point, a new kind of seigneurial dwelling evolved with the rise of the middle-ranking class of knights: the fortified house (especially after 1250). This would be located just outside the village near a stream or river, and be constructed on a man-made platform surrounded by a water-filled moat. The residential wings and outbuildings are arranged around a central courtyard.

Fortresses did not fare well during the 14C and 15C, as first the Hundred Years War, then the guns of Louis XI’s troops wreaked devastation. However, the Château du Pin (15C), which is very well preserved, is an interesting example of medieval military architecture.

At the end of the Gothic period, town houses began to feature much more prominently, and were decorated with mullioned windows surmounted by ogee arches.

Renaissance – The return of peace and prosperity to Franche-Comté during the 16C was marked by numerous castles being modified to reflect the new style, while at the same time having their de-fences reinforced to withstand the new metal cannon balls, which were much more destructive than the old stone ones. But the aristocracy tended to prefer their mansions in town where Renaissance art really came into its own.

Unlike religious architecture, civil architecture drew very little inspiration from Gothic art, while it was wide open to the graceful, attractive lines and forms which arrived from Italy. Emperor Charles V’s Chancellor, Perrenot de Granvelle, set the example by building himself a mansion in Besançon in 1534. On the façades of Franch-Comté, different styles were super­imposed on columns (Hôtel de Ville at Gray), moulded bands were added between storeys, ogee arches above windows gave way to simpler geometric forms. On the ground floor, the basket-handle arch was used for doorways or open arcades, introducing a regular movement clearly Spanish in inspiration (the interior courtyard of the Palais Granvelle at Besançon). Architectural renewal was apparent in floral decoration. The decorative artist and architect Hugues Sambin (1518-1601), born near Gray, left a magnificent example of his energetic artistic creativity on the polychrome façade of the Palais de Justice at Besançon (1581), his finest piece of work in Jura.

Classical – In the 17C, Franche-Comté was crushed by the Ten Years War. It was not until after 1674, when the province was incorporated into France, that a new architectural impetus came to life. The strategic position of the region compelled the French to consider implementing a comprehensive project of fortification without further ado. The task was entrusted to Vauban , who paid particular attention to the defence of the points along the routes leading to Switzerland. Although part of it has been destroyed, Vauban’s monumental work has left an indelible impression on parts of the Jura countryside. The royal architect’s greatest achievement is to have developed the concept of bastion layout (adopted during the 16C) to its maximum potential. This idea had been developed before Vauban, but he not only refined it to its definitive form but was able to adapt it to suit the terrain of any site, whether it be a fortified town wall (Belfort, Besançon) or an isolated fortress (Fort St-André near Salins-les-Bains).

Civil architecture flourished in its turn in the 18C, which was a richly productive period for art in Franche-Comté. The most original work of this period is the royal salt works at Arc-et-Senans, designed as an ideal town by visionary architect Ledoux ( T see Arc-et-Senans) . Châteaux (typically on a horseshoe layout, as at Moncley), private houses and civil buildings display perfectly symmetrical façades, pierced with large windows surmounted by triangular or rounded pediments. Another characteristic of these monuments, which some consider to be on a level of perfection with the Louis XVI style, is their traditional high roof.

19C and 20C – In the region of Franche-Comté, military architecture continued to evolve throughout the 19C and 20C. In the 19C, a number of fortresses were built (including the large fort at Les Rousses) to improve sites vulnerable to gun warfare. Most of these constructions have survived. The invention of the torpedo shell in 1885, then of the double-action fuse meant that forts were abandoned in favour of semi-underground concrete bunkers. During the Second World War, the French High Command even went so far as to build 30 or so blockhouses to protect Swiss neutrality. Modern architecture has produced some great works of civil engineering in the region; in the 19C, impressive viaducts (Morez) were built to span some of the Jura gorges. Since the war, engineers have been concerned mainly with constructing dams; the Génissiat dam (1948) on the Rhône and the Vouglans dam (1968) in the Ain Valley are two impressive examples.


Rural Architecture

The wine-growers of Burgundy have large, comfortable houses; the vats and storerooms are on the ground floor, with living quarters on the first floor reached by a covered outside staircase. Often the houses are built into the hillside. The storage rooms may be partly underground, but are protected from fluctuations in temperature by thick stone walls.

The farmhouses of the Bresse plain look much as they always have, although cob walls and thatched roofs have gradually given way to bricks and tiles. The houses are low, with a wide overhanging roof for drying maize. Inside, there is the traditional stove room. A few 17C and 18C houses have a Saracen chimney, high on the roof like a belfry.

In Jura , besides the traditional chalets (wooden buildings on a stone foundation), there are mountain houses which consist of living quarters, stable and barn under the same roof. They are compact, built close to the ground to shut out the wind. The thick stone walls have tiny windows; those on the sides exposed to wind and snow are protected by wooden slats known as tavaillons . Roofing materials are the tiles typical of Jura or, more commonly, steel sheeting. The living quarters occupy the ground floor: the houteau , or kitchen, in which there is almost always a huge fireplace, and the poêle , a big heated room used as a bedroom or a dining room. The stable next door is joined to the house. The barn is on the first floor and has an opening through which fodder can be thrown down into the stable below.

The typical dwelling of the plateaux shares traits with that of the mountains, not least having man and beast under the same roof. However, they are taller, with a rectangular roof with edges that slope steeply downwards, covered in typical Jura tiles. Walls divide the ground floor lengthwise to separate the living quarters from the stable. The main rooms are as above, but the first floor is often also given over to bedrooms.

The rooftops of Burgundy

The colourful rooftpss of the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune and the Hôtel de Vogüe in Dijon are classic images of Burgundy. Glazed polychrome tiles , laid out in geometrical designs, may have arrived in Burgundy from Central Europe via Flanders. The patterns carry symbolic messages, signifying status or reputation.

Finials in glazed earthenware, ornate weathervanes and crockets are all decorative features of the pinnacles and crests of the distinctive roofs of Burgundy, especially in the Côte d’Or region.

Upland, the broad, slanted roofs are covered in flat dark-brown tiles known as tuiles de Bourgogne , much used on Cistercian abbeys.

The tiles called laves are by-products of quarrying. An upper layer was removed from the surface of building stones. Roofers used these leftover pieces, interspersed with small rocks (as in the church at Ozenay in the Mâconnais region) as an aerated and frost-proof covering. The weight (600-800kg/1 320-1 760lb per m2) of the tiles required heavy-duty framework. In the Morvan, thatch has slowly replaced tile and slate.

The area around Tournus is a transitional zone where flat tiles are used on the main house, and rounded tiles, tuile canal , on the outbuildings or porch roof. Rounded tiles are more prevalent in the southern reaches of Burgundy; the pitch of the roofs decreases (less than 35°), framing is different. In Beaujolais, the style already shows Mediterranean influence.


Painting and Sculpture

In Burgundy

Pre-Romanesque – During this period, sculpture was clumsily executed: the crypt of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain , all that remains of an 8C basilica, contains four shafts of columns, of which three appear to be Roman and the fourth Carolingian. The capitals are of great interest: they carry a decoration of fairly crudely executed flat foliage. Two of the capitals in the crypt of the cathedral of St-Bénigne at Dijon are decorated on each face by a man with his arms raised in prayer.

During the same period, frescoes and glazed surfaces were used to decorate the walls of religious buildings. In 1927, frescoes of the stoning of St Stephen (among other scenes) were discovered in the crypt of St-Germain in Auxerre.

Romanesque sculpture – The Cluny School of sculpture is the most significant in the Romanesque period.

Artists reveal-ed a new interest in nature in the variety of vegetation and keenly observed poses of the human figures they carved on the capitals in the choir (only rare examples survive). The influence of Cluny’s sculpture was at first apparent in the church of Ste-Madeleine at Vézelay – both in the carved capitals and in the tympanum of the doorway in the narthex, which shows Christ sending out his Apostles before his ascension into heaven. This sculpture (1120) has much in common with the doorway of the church of St-Lazare in Autun.

The two doorways of the church of St-Lazare in Avallon , which date from the mid-12C, reveal a desire for a new style: luxuriant decoration including wreathed columns, an expression of the Baroque tendency of Burgundian Romanesque art, is depicted side by side with a column statue which recalls Chartres. The gravity of the round bosses on the tomb of St Lazarus in Autun (1170-84) already point forward to the Gothic style.

The Brionnais, where there is an unusual profusion of sculpted doorways, seems to have been the oldest centre for Romanesque sculpture in Burgundy. From the mid-11C to the great projects of Cluny this region produced a slightly crude and gauche style. After working in Cluny, the Brionnais artists has a new grace to their work. These trends appeared beside traditional elements, and evolved towards a mannerist decorative style (tympanum of St-Julien-de-Jonzy).

Romanesque painting – The crypt of the cathedral in Auxerre contains some 11C frescoes depicting Christ on horseback. At Anzy-le-Duc, restoration work in the choir in the mid-19C uncovered a large collection of murals with different characteristics from those at Auxerre: subdued, dull tints with dark outlines on a background of parallel bands.

Another style (blue backgrounds) appears at Cluny and at Berzé-la-Ville , in the chapel of the Château des Moines, where one can see a fine collection of Romanesque mural paintings. These frescoes, uncovered at the end of the 19C, were painted in the early years of the 12C. The use of glossy, bright paints is the distinctive feature of this innovative technique. As Berzé-la-Ville was one of the residences of the abbots of Cluny, it appears certain that these frescoes were painted by the same artists employed in the building of the great abbey.

Gothic sculpture – This concedes nothing in quality to Romanesque art.

13C – The influence of the Paris and Champagne regions is evident in the composition and presentation of subjects, but the Burgundian temperament appears in the interpretation of some scenes, where local artists have given free rein to their fantasy and earthy realism.

Much of the statuary of this period was destroyed or damaged during the Revolution; some examples survive in Vézelay, St-Père, Semur-en-Auxois, St-Thibault, Notre-Dame in Dijon and Auxerre.

At St-Père the sculpted decoration of the gable on the west front is repeated in a floral decoration on the capitals. It is probable that the gable of the Vézelay basilica was inspired by St-Père, but the statutes in St-Père are of a much finer workmanship than those in Vézelay.

The tympanum of the Porte des Bleds in Semur-en-Auxois depicts the legend of St Thomas: the figures are heavy and the draperies lack grace – characteristics of the Burgundian style. This style was modified at the end of the 13C: the bas-relief sculptures on the base of the doorways on the western side of Auxerre Cathedral are of a delicacy and grace never achieved before.

14C – The advent of the Great Dukes of Burgundy in 1364 coincided with a period of political expansion and the spread of artistic influence.

In 1377, Philip the Bold began the construction of the Chartreuse de Champmol at the gates of Dijon. The Duke spared no expense in the decoration of this monastery, bringing in a large number of artists from elsewhere. A new trend in sculpture emerged: statues ceased to be part of pillars and doorways; facial expressions were treated with realism, and the artist, searching for authentic representation first and foremost, did not hesitate to portray ugliness or suffering.

15C – The tomb of Philip the Bold has given rise to many imitations: the mausoleum of John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria is a faithful replica; the tomb of Philippe Pot, Seneschal of Burgundy, shows more originality, since it is the mourners who support the flagstone bearing the recumbent figure.

Sculpture now turned to a different style from that of the 13C; proportions were more harmonious and the draperies simpler. The Virgin Mary in the Musée Rolin at Autun is a good example of this particular Burgundian style.

Gothic painting – The Valois dukes surrounded themselves with painters and illuminators whom they brought from Paris or from their possessions in Flanders. In Dijon, Jean Malouel , Jean de Beaumetz and André Bellechose , natives of the north, created an artistic style remarkable for its richness of colour and detail of design, a synthesis of Flemish and Burgundian styles.

Among the best-known works, the polyptych in the Hôtel-Dieu at Beaune by Roger van der Weyden and the paintings in the Dijon museum are of great interest.

During the Gothic period, frescoes came into favour again. Apart from the frescoes in the church of Notre-Dame in Beaune by Pierre Spicre, a painter of Dijon, the curious Dance of Death in the little church at La Ferté-Loupière is also noteworthy. Pierre Spicre created the designs for the remarkably bright tapestries in the church of Notre-Dame at Beaune.

The tapestries in the Hôtel-Dieu at Beaune, commissioned by Chancellor Nicolas Rolin in the 15C, are among the most beautiful of this period.

Renaissance sculpture – While Burgundian Renaissance architecture was characterised by the triumph of horizontal lines and semicircular arches, sculpture of this style used the antique form of medallions and busts in high relief, and gradually replaced sacred subjects with the profane.

In the second half of the 16C, ornamental decoration such as that conceived by Hugues Sambin , artist of the gateway of the Palais de Justice in Dijon and probably also of a large number of mansions, was much in vogue in the city.

In the 16C, decorative woodwork – door panels, coffered ceilings, church stalls – was prevalent. The 26 stalls in the church of Montréal, carved in 1522, are a work of local inspiration in which the Burgundian spirit is plain for all to see.

Classical to modern – The transition from the 18C to the 19C is marked by Girodet , the famous citizen of Montargis. Proud’hon and Rude, both pupils of Devosges and attached to the academic tradition, were producing paintings and sculpture at the beginning of the 19C; the work of the former is characterised by muted tones and dreamy, sensual figures; that of the latter recalls his Neoclassical debut, and the force of his subsequent expression of his romantic temperament in the Marseil­laise on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

They were followed by Cabet, Jouffroy, and the contemporary sculptor François Pompon , all of whom contributed to the artistic reputation of Burgundy.

In Jura

Jura cannot pride itself on having been home to a regional school of painting or sculpture. However, despite having been under the influence mainly of Burgundian and Flemish artists, local artists produced numerous works of art which reflect their talent.

Unlike painting, sculpture was overlooked by local artists as a way of expressing their ideas during the Romanesque period.

Romanesque painting – The art of painting underwent significant development during the 12C and 13C, while sculpture was making little progress. During the Romanesque and Gothic periods, artists turned to frescoes in particular to decorate the interiors of churches.

Gothic sculpture – During the 13C, craftsmen produced emotive wooden statues in a naïve style, mainly Virgins. It was not until the 14C that a real surge of creativity burst onto the scene, inspired by Burgundian art and in particular the work of Claus Sluter . The production and decoration of religious furniture also developed during this period; the magnificent choir stalls at St-Claude (15C) and the ones at Montbenoît (16C) are some interesting examples.

Gothic painting – In the 14C and 15C, the art of painting altarpieces spread at the same time as the fresco technique. Painters of altarpieces were primarily in-spired by Flemish artists. Unfortunately, in the 16C, the initial impetus of the primitive artists of Franche-Comté petered out. Jacques Prévost , trained in Italy, was the only artist to produce works of any quality (triptych at Pesmes). The aristocracy and merchant classes took advantage of their travels abroad to buy Flemish and Italian paintings, some of which are still part of the artistic heritage of Jura (church at Baumes-les-Messieurs, cathedral and Musée des Beaux-Arts at Besançon).

Renaissance sculpture – In the 16C, sculptural forms became less tortured, and Italian sculptors were brought in to work on projects in Franche-Comté. The Gothic tradition was dropped as artists such as Claude Arnoux , known as Lullier (altarpiece of the Chapelle d’Andelot in the church at Pesmes), and Denis le Rupt (pulpit and organ loft in Notre-Dame at Dole) adopted the new style.

Classical to modern sculpture – During the Classical period, religious statuary became bogged down in academism. Only furniture showed signs of the originality and good taste of the local artists (Fauconnet woodwork at Goux-les-Usiers). Later, some sculptors achieved a certain degree of fame, such as Clésinger, Luc Bretonand and Perraud (1819-76), who were inspired by the Romantic movement to produce sensitive works.

At the end of the century, Bartholdi immortalised the resistance of the city of Belfort in 1870, by sculpting an enormous lion out of rock.

Classical to modern painting – From the 17C, French art became less regionalised. Famous artists from Jura include Jacques Courtois (1621-76), who specialised in painting battle scenes, Donat Nonotte (1708-85), a portrait painter from Besançon, and above all Courbet (1819-77), an ardent defender of realism.


Religious Orders

After the fall of Charlemagne’s empire, the Church used its considerable influence to resume a leading role in society; there was a renewal of fervour for the monastic life throughout Europe, but especially in Burgundy.

St Benedict and his Rule – In 529 Benedict, who was born in Italy, moved to Monte Cassino where he worked out his Constitution, soon to be adopted by many monasteries. His advice was moderate: fasting, silence and abstinence were recommended, but mortification was strongly condemned. Relations with the outside world were to be avoided, and Benedictine communities were to be self-sufficient through their own work.

The rise of Cluny – In 910 the founding of a monastery in the Mâcon region by the Duke of Aquitaine marked the start of an important religious reform associated with the name of Cluny. The spirit of the Benedictine Rule was marked by the observance of the three cardinal rules of obedience, chastity and fasting, but there was a much heavier emphasis on prayer, which almost eliminated the time for manual labour and other work. Another innovation was that Cluny was directly attached to the Holy See in Rome, effectively making it autonomous. The Order grew rapidly; by the 12C there were 1 450 monasteries throughout Europe.

Cîteaux and St Bernard – When a young French nobleman from near Dijon spoke out about the lazy ways and luxury among the monks of Cluny, he could not have known that it was the start of a new Order. St Bernard, having entered the monastic life at Cîteaux, embarked on a new and more austere interpretation of Benedictine Rule: plain woollen tunics, frugal meals, the simplest of beds, early rising and hard physical work.

Like St Bernard, the Cistercians had an impact on society that went beyond issues of faith. Well organised and hard-working, the monks were able to bring prosperity to the harshest and most isolated places by clearing and draining land and setting up irrigation systems.

The contemporary order – After the turmoil and physical destruction of the Revolution, monastic life has found a place in the modern world. Today there are about 3 000 Trappist Cistercians (the name is derived from the abbey of Notre-Dame-de-la-Trappe, reformed in the 17C), in 92 establishments worldwide, 15 of which are in France.


Traditional Crafts

The Comtoise Clock – Cabinetmakers craft the traditional long-case clocks known in France as horloges comtoises . The early models were usually made of oak wood, and embellished with ornaments and moulding. Beginning in 1850, pine wood became the material of choice and simple painted motifs were used to decorate the case. Enamel artists worked to create stylised clock faces.

Smaller and smaller – The first French watch was made towards the end of the 15C, and there were many models by the second half of the 16C.

At the courts of Henri II and Henri III, women would wear watches as pendants and men had them set into the handles of their daggers as decoration. These timepieces only had one hand, the hour hand.

In 1694, the Dumont brothers, master watchmakers, brought out the first watches manufactured in Besançon, entirely handmade. In 1767, Frédéric Japy of the village of Beaucourt mechanically manufactured some rough models of watches, using machines he had invented. This was an immediate success, and his production was soon turning out 3 000 to 3 500 watches per month.

In 1793, a Swiss watchmaker, Mégevand, and 80 master watchmakers immigrated to Besançon. The Convention (national assembly) took them under its wing and advanced them some money to enable them to set up a factory and a national school of clock and watchmaking. They were to take in 200 apprentices per year, funded by the Convention .

A matter of time – From then on, sales grew rapidly. In 1835, 80 000 watches were made in Besançon and 240 000 in 1878. The industry spread to many Jura towns.

Today, clock and watchmaking are of little economic importance, yet a certain reputation for craftsmanship has been maintained. Morez and Morbier still make grandfather clocks, as they have since the 17C.

Top of page