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L’Abbaye St.Philibert, Tournus
The 10thC towers of St. Philibert’s church dominate the Tournus skyline. Give yourself some time to linger in this building as there are points of interest at every turn.
Enter from the porch into the narthex (this is the place of transition from the outer world to the house of God). It is the oldest part of the building with frescos on the ceiling and huge pillars supporting the weight of the towers and the chapel above. It is easy to miss this chapel altogether as the stairway is just inside the entrance. However, it is worth climbing up to look at the magnificent vaulting and the views up into the two towers.
The church itself is light and uplifting. The rose coloured columns are stunning. The eye leads you to the altar, a modern rendition, replaced during the renovations at the millennium. Note the state of the art chairs, the processional cross and lectern by Goudji, and the contemporary stained glass windows which harmonise well.
Part of the Mosaic Floor
Behind the altar, part of the mosaic floor, dating back to the 12th C is revealed. The pictures are a sort of calendar showing the cycle of nature and of man’s labours with signs of the zodiac. This only came to light in 2002 when electricians were renovating the church and is particularly special as few mosaics of this period have been preserved in situ like this in France.
The crypt is 3.5m (12ft) high with two rows of slender columns decorated with capitals carved with foliage. Take a look down the deep well.
The Nave at St-Philibert
The buildings around the church consist of the cloisters,
only part of which remain, the Abbot’s house dating back to 1471,
the refectory, used now for art exhibitions, and the chapter house. There
are arts and crafts shops and cafes around the church too
Places to visit nearby