by PETER HEBBLETHWAITE
The Companion Guide to Burgundy by Robert Speaight (Collins £51 Burgundy is one of the most congenial and history-laden parts of France. and Robert Speaight is a most companionable guide. Memories are tenacious in those parts.
In Braisse, on the other hank of the Same. people still distinguish between "the Emperor's side" and "the King's side", though both King and Emperor have long since vanished.
The homework has been fastidious!). done. Down in Alesia it is not difficult to imagine the battle hetween•Caesar's 40.000 legionaries and a horde of Gauls, 200.000 strong.
This area..says Speaight. "may he described as the tomb of Celtic Gaul. and the cradle of what we know as France. This is where the old civilisation died and where the new was horn".
There are innumerable reasons for going to Burgundy. There are the eines and the food. and there are the splendid romanessque churches with their perceptive carvings. The balance between the two is nicely kept.
In this book. food and wine. instead of being a monstrous indulgence of the rich. are effortlessly slotii)ie in as an aspect of cis ilismirm. And no church is too .mall to he noticed. Turn down the I) 01 and You will stumble upon, of all places. hotly-le-Chi-11.cl (59) .
Burgundy has been the home of monastic movements. Al the Abbey of Citeaux. amid the ruins, one can speculate on the extraordinary expansion of the Cistercians who. sr, it hin a hundred years of the arrival of St Bernard. had more than a thousand houses in l-urope and Polesting.
Cluny deserves and gets more space. because there is more of it to he seen. It is full of memories of Ahelard, who took refuge there. and Peter the Venerable. who gave him Absolution on his deathbed.
But ('luny grew to be prosperous and comfortable. until by the Revolution only ,t few monks plased hide-and-seek in the vast buildings. Its rate is now to he administered by the &de des Arts et Metiers
with these monastic memories in mind that Roger Schutt chose to set up his religious community al raile. He found himself wondering why the Reformation had rejected monasticism, since in the Acts of the Apostles. the followers of the way arc said to "have shared all things in common".
So celebrated has Taize become, that the Catholic Bishop of Autun refers to himself. when elsewhere. us "the Bishop of -NW".
This is the hook to take with you to Burgundy, whether travelling as hitchhiker or by Rolls-Royce. It is a sad sign of the times that Robert Speaight calculates that two people con subsist in Burgundy on £15 a dot. "assenting that they are con1,-si \soh a picnic luncheon."
N !hose who think that France is Ihe pLice you al) through on von %say to Spain should htiv this hook aid nuke a daunts.