Friday 11 July 2014

Cluny, Burgundy, Summer Fun Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length 2.8 km (1.8 miles), terrain: two hills, gain 50 meters

NOTE: This is the next installment of our little Summer Fun-Run routes, in vacation towns in Europe.

Cluny is the home of what was once the most influential abbey in Christendom, a cultural wellspring producing great art and books. Many other abbeys were founded as daughters of the mother abbey in Cluny, and the many abbots had to travel to Cluny each year to report on their progress. The Cluny church was the biggest in the world until St. Peter's was built in Rome, and was the spiritual magnetic pole for endless pious pilgrims.

But Cluny was also associated with negative sides: for the opulent buildings and lifestyles of its monks, who limited their activities to praying and reproducing books. Outsiders were hired to work in the fields, kitchens, stables and gardens. When the French Revolution came, the abbeys were closed down, many of the books were lost, and the great church was turned into a rock quarry for other buildings. Only about ten percent of the previous abbey buildings now stand.

But enough of the abbey still exists to make an interesting tour of the remains. So, if you're in town to visit this unique showplace of history, here's a little route to circle the old town walls.
The painter and the church
We'll start the route in town, at the Place Saint-Marcel at the statue of painter Pierre-Paul Prud'Hom, who was born here, and the parish church. Turn north and begin to run along Rue Prud'Hom, a quiet old-town street, and in three blocks you'll find yourself running outside the abbey walls. You'll pass a gateway where you can see across the sprawling gardens to the main abbey buildings and the church towers.
The abbey gardens
Keep running north to the end of the walls, at a big roundabout with a rose-garden on the right, and horse corrals further to the north. These belong to the Haras, the French national stud farm, which now uses this end of the old abbey grounds.
Heading west at the round tower
Now turn left after the round wall tower (simply called Tour Ronde), and continue following the walls westwards, past the Haras stables and corrals behind the wall.
Running by the Haras grounds, with Cluny abbey churchtower in background
At the next round tower, Tour Fabry, follow the Chemin des Trepasses as it goes uphill to the next tower, the Tour St. Mayeul.
Tour Fabry. Now comes the uphill part
Here, you turn left to now follow the western walls as you head southwards, downhill along Avenue Pierre le Vénérable.
Stone-mason's shop window along Avenue Pierre le Vénérable
When you get to the bottom of the hill, at the apartment houses, you'll be in a big square, Place du Champ de Foire. Turn left here and head uphill on Promenade du Fouetin where you can soon run through a narrow park next to the road.
Along Fouetin
When you get to the roundabout, continue into the small park extension looking over the edge of a bluff. You'll see a stairs going down to a serpentine hiking trail through the green Le Quinconces hillside park.
Heading down the serpentines. Ahead is a sheep meadow
At the bottom of the hill, at the first real cross-street, Avenue Charles de Gaulle, turn left and run the three blocks back to the start at Place Saint-Marcel.

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