BURGUNDY stone can be found from as far apart as the north of the Côte d'Or around Chatillion sur Seine and the east of Yonne in the Tonnerois to the south around Beaune, Autun and as far south as Cluny.
The range of hues, from the soft white 'Anstrude' to the reddish 'Renaissance de Jour' and the shimmering veined 'Corton' to 'Bleu de Vix', ‘Beauvillion rubane' and 'Comblanchien granite'; these are colours sculptors dream of and names they roll around their tongues.
Burgundy stone represents 25% of France’s production of ornamental stone and there are 100 varieties on the market. It is widely used and found on facades, tiling and pavements and is quite often used in the renovation of historical monuments and is particularly chosen when covering or constructing walls.
The stone has been the prefered material for a number of prestigious works. The architect Pei chose it for the entrance wall and Great Pyramid staircase of the Louvre, it was used in the restoration of the Citeaux Abbey, the Tolbiac bridge in Paris as well as the tile, facade facings and a portion of the staircase of the Taipei Tower in Taiwan.
The village of Vellars-sur-Ouche, Côte d’Or, in partnership with the association ‘les Amis de Notre Dame d’Etang’ are organising a symposium ‘L’Association Pierre de Bourgogne’ on September 9 and 10.
This is an important event organised entirely around Burgundy stone. There are to be conferences, exhibitions, and sculpture workshops for children as well as works of art for sale.
The main object of the event is to raise the public’s awareness about the urgency to carry out vital restoration work on the wonderfully site of Notre Dame d’Etang. This isolated church with its statue of Our Lady perched on its top lies amongst the forests above Vellars-sur-Ouche. Its position makes for a difficult and harrowing climb, but once there the views are superb, and the sense of peace and tranquillity are well worth the ascent.
The story goes that in 1435 or 1436, a cow that always grazed on the same piece of land. The grass always grew back as luxurious the following day. When digging one day a statue of the Virgin was discovered at the site, so the statue was taken to the home of the butcher who owned the cow.
Miracles started to happen when people touched the head of the Virgin and soon hoards of people started to visit the statue for healing. The statue was moved to Saint-Bénigne de Dijon, where the miracles continued. Then the statue disappeared, only to reappear at the original site.
A chapel was erected on the site as the abbot considered the Virgin favoured the courageous who would have to climb, on foot, to the top of the mountain. When the abbot and monks realised the statue was attracting so many pilgrims they constructed a new chapel on the site of the first.
With the statue dating from the 13th century pilgrimages to the site are documented as early as 1372 and the fresco on the walls of the chapel date to a period of restoration sometime before 1689.
The church with its imposing statue can be seen from a great distance but at the moment the whole site is cordoned off to prevent accidents. The symposium, it is hoped, will highlight the problems as well as going some way to raise the money required to fund the restoration project.