Unmissable churches and religious sites

From the Middle Ages, Burgundy has been a spiritual hotspot and a great number of churches, abbeys and chapels can be seen across the region. Whether they are extravagant or more intimate monuments, brimming with sculptures and decorated with wall frescoes, or more understated and austere, each one is an inspiring experience.

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
1 On the eternal hill

Vézelay Abbey

Come and discover the exceptional universal value of this 12th century church. It is also classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Find out more about Vézelay Abbey

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
2 The Abbey-City

Cluny Abbey

This is quite simply one of the most wonderful spiritual adventures of the Middle Ages. At its peak, in around the year 1100, Cluny ruled over 10,000 monks and 1,500 monasteries all over Europe.

Find out more about Cluny Abbey

Alain DOIRE/Bourgogne-Franche-Comte Tourisme
3 At the start of the first millennium

Saint-Philibert Abbey in Tournus

The Abbey stands fully intact and majestic behind its towering fortified walls. It was built in the first millennium and is one of the most ancient and monumental Roman sanctuaries in France.

Find out more about Tournus Abbey

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
4 A close relation to Cluny

Notre Dame de La Charité-sur-Loire priory

La Charité-sur-Loire has been a major step for pilgrims on the Way of St. James since the Middle Ages, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

Up to 5,000 worshippers could gather in the priory, that has been magnificently restored.

Find out more about the church of La Charité-sur-Loire

Alain Doire / BFC Tourisme
5 The city of the sacred heart

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paray-le-Monial

This is without a doubt the most beautiful preserved example of Cluniac architecture. This is where we can get a good idea of what Cluny looked like in its heyday. Because, even though this Romanesque church is a lot smaller, it bears a close resemblance to Cluny Abbey.

Find out more about the Basilica of Paray-le-Monial

Bourgogne Tourisme / Alain Doire
6 Art and history

Saint-Lazare Cathedral in Autun

Make sure you take the time to go and admire the superb sculptures on the capitals and the gate. They were created by Gislebertus, and resemble sculpted comic strips. At that time, the canons considered them to be "barbaric and primitive".

Find out more about Autun cathedral

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
7 Close to Paris

Sens Cathedral

The Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, the 1st of the great Gothic-style cathedrals, has a fabulous collection of stained-glass windows, including a superb rose window, measuring 11 metres in diameter!

The cathedral's treasure is one of the richest in France and is on display at one of the museums in the town. Why not go and take a tour after the cathedral?

Find out more about Sens Cathedral

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
8 Cistercian flawlessness

Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Edme Abbey in Pontigny

Even though the abbey church is the only remaining part of this site, it is still well worth the detour. The abbey church stands alone, seemingly lost in the midst of the Yonne fields, and it is a surprising sight to see, not only for its setting, but also for its size: it is 100 metres long and is now the biggest Cistercian church in France!

Find out more about Pontigny abbey

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
9 A treasure in the midst of nature

Fontenay Abbey

This ideal "city", isolated in the middle of the woods, provided everything the monks needed to be able to work on their body and mind: around the cloister, the church, the chapter house, the scriptorium, the "chauffoir" (only room with a chimney), the forge and the ancient abbot's residence.

All the buildings are still intact after more than 8 centuries of history, and they are listed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Find out more about Fontenay Abbey

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
10 Quite an art…

The Romanesque churches of the Charolais-Brionnais

Some of them are spectacular, some are more understated, perched on a village hilltop or nestled in the woodland, there are over 100 Romanesque churches and chapels here that bear witness to the influence of Cluny Abbey.

They are dotted along the "Chemins du Roman" trails which begin from the Romanesque church of Paray-le-Monial and there are 3 discovery trails to choose from.


Find out more about the churches in Brionnais

En résumé