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November 20, 2018

France: Tournus

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, France, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 4:36 am

Inside the Hôtel-Dieu de Tournus

About an hour north of Lyon is the commune of Tournus. Like many of France’s more interesting and historic towns Tournus developed along the banks of a major river, in this case the River Saône. As civilization expanded rivers provided water, sanitation, communication, fertile farmlands, and trade. It was natural for communes to grow close enough to the waterways to benefit from the advantages of access to the water and yet positioned in a way that they are protected from all but the biggest floods.

Tournus was once the site of a Roman garrison: History is long in this part of France. After the fall of the Romans, the town became an important religious center with the founding of the Benedictine monastery, Saint-Philibert of Tournus in the 9th Century. The abbey’s church dates from the 11th Century. It stands today tucked into a street plan which retains its medieval roots. The monastery is one of the largest Romanesque monuments in France. Saint-Philibert is the Tournus’s most notable attraction and worthy of an intentional visit.

Tournus from the River Saône

A river cruise ship on the Saône

With attractive streets and three Michelin one-star restaurants the town of around 5,700 people attracts many tourists. By our estimation, most of the tourists in Tournus that we saw were French. The French are great tourists within their own country but they don’t focus on the same destinations that foreigners do. The French, it seems, have already seen Paris. They don’t need to go back there for every vacation. The French think that there are plenty of other places worth seeing in France. We couldn’t agree more.

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We visited Tournus in July 2017.

Saint-Philibert of Tournus

Beds inside Hôtel-Dieu de Tournus

Inside Saint-Philibert of Tournus

Mosaics in Saint-Philibert of Tournus

Details of the organ in Saint-Philibert of Tournus

Saint-Philibert of Tournus

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