There is a great enthusiasm here for the Journées du Patrimoine. This year sees the 28th year of the Heritage weekends. The scheme was started in 1984 by the French Ministry of Culture to ‘ensure the most important possible audience to our cultural heritage’. It has now extended to most countries in Europe.
The theme for 2011 is to highlight the influence of architects and artisans from neighbouring countries who influenced the construction and decoration of emblematic sites. For example the frescos which once decorated Cluny Abbey, like those still to be seen at Berzé-le-Chapelle, were painted in a Byzantine style by the many Italian artists employed at that time.
A network of labelled sites has since been instigated in an effort to protect France’s cultural heritage. One of the first three European Heritage plaques was presented to Cluny Abbey in 2007, along with the Pope’s palace in Avignon and Robert Schuman’s house in Lorraine.
Many of the places open to the public this weekend are private homes and sites not normally accessible, for example the childhood home of Lamartine at Milly-Lamartine. Others places which normally charge are free to the public. This morning we visited the museum in Cluny and the Abbey. We have been to both several times before but we appreciate them more with knowing more about Cluny and its history. We never tire of watching the 3D film representing Cluny Abbey as it was in the 13th century.
We met some neighbours this morning in Cluny who said they visited a different town every year. Tomorrow they are going to the Abbey at Paray-le-Monial. We will not go so far for our outing for tomorrow afternoon, perhaps to the walnut oil factory in Charnay-les-Macon, then to the Chateau d’Aine near Azé. Tomorrow is also the Journée du Cheval so it’s open day at the stables, and there’s a pony club competition in Cluny……. On verra.