We’ve often taken the Salornay road out of Cluny and noticed, up on the left, a picturesque hilltop village dominated by a church with a tall spire. Needing a walk this afternoon we went to have a look. It’s La Vineuse, one of those villages we often read about in the local paper but don’t quite know where they are.
We parked at the church. It’s closed on Sundays (!) so we couldn’t go in but there was a lot of information to be gleaned from the boards at the viewpoint behind the church.
The church with a view
The area was settled during Roman times, and there are still the remains of a camp to the south. In those days the village was called Fenestracum, meaning ‘the window with a wide view’. Later, because of the extensive vineyards, it was known as Vinosa Villa Sainte Marie des Vignes, not surprisingly simplified to La Vineuse.
The church is 11th century and is noted for its 3-tiered belltower and original chapel. Opposite the church is the tithe barn where, until the revolution of 1789, the peasants had to bring a tenth of their crops to be shared between the priest of La Vineuse and the chapel of St Vincent in Mâcon.
In 1939 a pot of 8760 Roman coins was found, now displayed in the National Library in Paris. The following year another 7150 coins turned up in an amphora. Apparently these are still in La Vineuse, at the Mairie. I wonder if we might be able to see them sometime?
The walks around La Vineuse were well waymarked. We chose the shortest circuit as it was a raw afternoon. We saw our first lambs of the year, a barn full of cattle and lots of chickens running over the road and in the fields. But no people nor any signs of human activity. The population of La Vineuse was 293 at the last count but where were they? Abduction by aliens or rural France on a Sunday afternoon? And for that matter in a place named for its vineyards. we didn’t see any of them either.