The heritage of Burgundy goes back for millennia and the rivers form the backbone of the inland trade routes, Prominent buildings where constructed to be best viewed from the ancient point of arrival, the river, and this splendour can still be enjoyed today from the deck of the Randle as we arrive to towns such as Auxerre. The Romans built a great fort here to protect this important port from attack, the remnants on which the Cathedral Saint-Étienne now stands.
Navigators wished for safe passage with the blessing of Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of sailors and children. This is why statues of the saint are to be found at important river crossings and quays still in existence today. Saint Nicolas and his modern reincarnation as Father Christmas we wish safe travels too!
After we moor in town take a tour along stone cobbled streets lined with medieval timber framed buildings, and to the Cathedral Saint-Étienne with its 900-year-old frescoes, and not forgetting the many boutique shops to discover that little bit of French style.
But to see the oldest frescoes in Burgundy we need to go back another 27,000 years to the cave paintings of the Grottes-de-Arcy, where ancient Palaeolithic people made hundreds of simple line drawings of mammoth, bears, rhinos, big cats and birds, take a wonderful tour of these caves with our expert guide.
Leaping forward to the 20th century we come to the paintings and sculptures of the modern age. At Vezelay, itself a place of pilgrimage for well over a thousand years, is the museum Zervos. Christian Zervos was an art publisher and gallerist from Paris with a residence close to Vezelay where he entertained amongst others Picasso and Giacometti, fine examples of who’s work can be seen in the newly renovated Museum Zervos in Vezelay.
When at Vezelay take a guided tour of the UNESCO listed town of Vezelay and its 900-year-old Romanesque Basilica too. It would be interesting to think how the modern age will be remembered in the future, maybe too, by the works of the great artists of our time.
Wishing everybody happy travels during this festive season and a prosperous new year. We very much look forward to spring 2018 when again we will be plying the beautiful rivers and canals of the Burgundy countryside.
|Tim Harrold is owner and captain of the Randle, a beautiful and classically styled river boat fitted with two en-suite cabins and all the modern facilities to travel in comfort.
Tim offers private barge tours on the picturesque Burgundy Canal du Nivernais and river Yonne. A luxury cruise with Tim and his crew includes gourmet cuisine, fine wine, and guided tours by private car to vineyards and chateaux. Learn more about Edge Charter and barge trips on the Randle along Burgundy's canals and rivers here.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.