It would appear that “Vintage” is back in fashion… For us, it’s not just a fad but a state of mind! So let’s drive back to the 50s, turn the radio dial to a station that plays Maurice Chevalier, a helmet proudly perched on Monsieur’s head and a scarf tied around Madame’s… and we’re off along the legendary “Nationale 6” to the South of France, which is waiting for the arrival of our Peugeot 404! No traffic jams and no stress of course; it is the Belle Époque! So if, like us, nostalgia is your thing, the Vintage Bel Air is waiting so that we can relive part of your youth (or your parents’ youth, for all you youngsters).
You could think of it as magic…starting off with a dusty piece of coal and finishing off with glasses and vases of flawless purity. That is what you can discover here at the Creusot-Montceau Eco-museum, by delving into the bowels of the earth at its coal mines and the factories that once served as the Queen’s glassworks. And this site does not just deal with a brief instant in Creusot life. Imagine the centuries rolling by, brought to life by the heat of that same coal: mines, glassworks, foundries, ceramic factories… Then one day, everything stopped. If you are curious, come and learn how and why this happened !
Once upon a time in the Jura, a certain Emmanuel Jobez, ironmaster of State, returned from one of his trips to Italy with a love for Italian art so profound that he wanted to bring it home with him to Syam in the form of a splendid villa inspired by Palladio, the undisputed master of Renaissance architecture. It was in this way that in 1818, in the midst of an immense wooded park, he had a little jewel of symmetry constructed. On the outside, its sunshine yellow façades contrast with the deep greens of the Jura’s pine trees. Inside, everything speaks of good taste and noble materials. The highpoint of the visit lies at the centre of the villa where a wonderful architectural surprise awaits you. How about extending your experience of the Italian art de vivre by staying at the gite or the guest house located on the estate?
« To paint a country, you have to know it. I know my country, I paint it. The undergrowth, it is ours. This river is the Loue. Go and see it and you will see my painting ». If Courbet himself is telling us to go, we can’t refuse! Let us first go to Ornans where the painter was born and is buried and where a splendid museum pays tribute to him. Next, let us stop at Flagey in the intimate setting of his family’s farm. Then we can follow his footsteps along the Courbet Trails. They provide the opportunity to explore his work in situ thanks to 7 panels installed right where the painter himself, nearly 200 years earlier, placed his easel. More avid fans will have to wait until 2019 to celebrate the bicentenary of his birth with celebrations centring around a major exhibition in Ornans orchestrated by the former president–director of the Louvre.
Pierre-de-Bresse is the château of our childhood dreams (the one you see when you imagine a château): 4 great towers at its corners, surrounded by water, with a bridge to gain access… The original feature of this one, apart from the beauty of its stone, is that it is home to the Burgundian Bresse Eco-museum. “So, what is an Eco-museum?” you might ask…Quite simply, it is a « living » museum devoted to preserving the things that make the area authentic. In short, it will tell you how Bresse was before we were here. But going further, it shows you what we would like it to be once we are gone…a beautiful and extensive programme!
Once upon a time our gentle France was brought to life by the crowing of the cockerel, the rising of the sun and the workers in the fields. To go back in time to this era and smell the country air, head for the Musée des Maisons Comtoises. It’s the complete picture! An environment of pure nature, animals that roam freely and authentic farmhouses from yesteryear all provide evidence in the great outdoors of the region’s architectural diversity and, indoors, of a way of life that was simple and free of fuss. Visiting these habitats, you can’t help but think how quickly things have moved on in just a few centuries.
Flashback to the 19th March 1789, and the eve of the French revolution, when the inhabitants of the small village of Champagney came together in front of the town hall to present a unique text that condemned slavery. This was Article 29 of their list of grievances: « the inhabitants of Champagney cannot imagine the woes that the Negroes in the colonies are suffering without our hearts feeling the deepest pain… ». We can feel the full visionary force of this act at the Maison de la Négritude, a museum that was sponsored by Léopold Sedar Senghor and a stop-off along the Abolitionists Route.
This is where orchestra conductors, musicians and ancient instruments transform into prodigious time machines that can transport us back to somewhere between the XVII Century and the mid-XVIII Century. Welcome to the Musiques & Mémoire Festival, a rare pearl that sparkles on the French Baroque scene. For more than 15 days (from 13th to 29th July) artists take over a range of sites across the mysterious Milles Étangs Plateau, including museums and churches, in order to bring to life once more the Baroque spirit and stir emotions. Music maestro, please!
Vauban was born in Morvan. Here he grew up, lived, settled with his family and created his very own « private refuge ». Marshall of France under Louis XIV, we owe to him the famous « star » fortifications. But Vauban was also a great traveller and a fine observer of the realities of his age. Among others, he described the Morvan in the 17th Century, its rough lands and difficult living conditions that forced locals to look elsewhere for the resources needed for their survival. He put forward ideas on a number of subjects – military art, the management of the local area, resource management, economics, society – suggesting reforms that were way ahead of their time. The Musée Vauban therefore presents his history, his heritage both built and written, whilst showing his attachment to the Morvan, a land that inspired and nurtured a great man and his ideas.
At the time when Rome bestrode the ancient world, a number of cities rose from the earth to extend its empire and bring it benefits. Augustodunum (from the name of Emperor Augustus) was one of these! Prosperity and commerce made this multi-cultural town (originally Gaul and later Roman) a very powerful one at the time… and one filled with mystery! The temple of Janus, wrongly attributed to the two-faced God (one face looking to the past, the other looking to the future), the curious pyramid of Couhard whose purpose we still do not know… Autun is a city out of time, mixing history, religion and beliefs.
The Romans arrived at Alésia: the sound of clashing steel, the noise of an army making the ground shake as it marches… And facing them, Vercingétorix, the recently proclaimed chief of the coalition of Gauls and a handful of men who had gathered alongside him to fight for their desire to remain free. We can read all about this battle in our history books, but we suggest you rediscover it from a different angle at the Muséoparc d’Alésia. There is no need to open a book to learn about history: you can dive straight into it !
There are those who dig and excavate looking for oil or for some other financial motive, and then there are those who do it for passion, for the pleasure of discovering and understanding. As well as the discoveries that have been made, it is to this second type of person that the museum of Bibracte pays tribute. On the one hand, there is of course the Gaul heritage that is constantly updated thanks to the long-running excavations, evidence of an era not so long ago in human terms. On the other hand, a team of enthusiasts will lead you straight into a world that is sometimes little-known, but no less intriguing.