View over the Grosne Valley from Notre Dame des Roches
The statue of Notre Dame des Roches can be seen high on the hill overlooking Varanges. She was erected after the war to give thanks that the local villages had not been bombed as had Cluny in June 1944. She had been restored at least once since the 1950s but she was looking rather forlorn, especially as her nose had been used for target practice.
Fortunately Marianne and Peter from Switzerland have come to stay in Cortambert. They are sculptors and painters who specialise in restorations. They took over the old mill at Merzé and have spent several years renovating it. Marianne is a member of the society Cortambert, notre patrimoine, and she and Peter with the other members were keen to take on this local project.
First things first, the scaffolding was borrowed from Yves at the château of Boutavent.
Yves supervising the erection of the scaffolding
Not everything went to plan as there was not enough water power to use the pressure washer and the statue had to be scrubbed by hand. The left hand had been badly repaired before and looked like it should belong to a boxer, but Peter did what he could to make it more elegant. The nose was rebuilt and now the madonna looks quite beautiful.
David, chief co-ordinator, with Peter and Marianne giving a toast to a job well done
and some of the other volunteers
There was a little celebration this afternoon on completion of the work. The scaffolding will be taken down next week, and sometime soon there will be an official gathering of dedication for the newly restored Notre Dame des Roches.
Members of the local heritage society have recently been engaged in marking out the ban sacré, a circular route drawn around Cluny in 1095. At that time the third stage of the building of Cluny Abbey was well advanced and the rapidly increasing numbers of monks found themselves in need of protection from attack and robbery. Hugues de Semur, the Abbot under Pope Urbain II, decreed that within the confines of the ban sacré nobody could carry arms. The penalty was excommunication from the church, a serious punishment in those days. The ban sacré followed existing paths, waymarked with stones carved with the sign of the crossed keys and the arms of the Abbey.
Last October a group of 20 under the guidance of Raymond, the leader of Cortambert, notre Patrimoine, spent two days walking the 46km trail. They started at Donzy and passed through Berzé-le-Châtel, Le Bois Clair and Sainte-Cécile, to spend the night at the Domaine Saint-Laurent at Château. Next day they continued to Croix Micaud, Lournand and finished in Varanges.
There was a little bit of the ban sacré left to do, from Varanges to Donzy, and yesterday we joined the group to complete it. It was lovely weather and here’s a few photos of the afternoon.
Raymond (right) demonstrates how the divining rods can help find buried stone waymarkers
We paused at Notre Dame des Roches, erected just after the war by Cortambert, Donzy and Blanot to give thanks for being spared the bombing. Cluny was bombed in June 1944.
The view back to the Grosne valley was well worth the climb
There are lots of lovely walking trails around here, and thanks to Raymond and the members of Cortambert, notre Patrimoine, we can now follow the ban sacré around Cluny.
On this warm sunny Saturday afternoon members of Cortambert notre Patrimoine turned out for a second session of excavating the ancient four à chaux. It’s a feature of Varanges after which our road was recently named. In the nineteenth century lime was mixed with sand for use as a mortar when building stone houses.
Raymond continues to excavate the existing oven
and stabilises the walls with a lime mortar.
He uses his divining rods to find the position of the walls of a second kiln
We discover another vaulted roof and Hubert begins to remove the earth in front.
Marianne and Pascale come to help
It was a good afternoon’s work and it was satisfying to find the second kiln after all that digging. It looks like tons of earth still have to be removed so we can look forward to some more Saturday afternoon sessions during the summer.