It is one thing to see mosaics times and times in books or online, you read and learn about them, you might even think to know everything about them, what you really need is a real mosaic trip !
What you really need is to meet them in person
When you realize that the piece on admired on your 12″ computer screen is actually 20′ high, you develop a new appreciation ! Awe grows in you and your jaw drops to the floor ! Now you really can relate to the workers who drew, mixed the mortar and laid the tesserae. You lay your hand on the rugged surface and feel what the mosaicist felt when he (or she) completed their work. This is why I travel and visit all those places. To feel a connection.
I left Saint Valery on October 5th for a 2 weeks trip down the Saone and Rhone Valley. I traveled by car, mostly driving on country roads to enjoy the colors of the fall.
When traveling in France you have the choice between regular country roads, which cross many small villages, and the “Autoroutes” which avoid all towns. The speed is limited to 80 km/h (50 mph) on small roads and to 130 km/h (75 mph) on the Autoroutes. Most of the Autoroutes are toll roads and the distance to drive from 1 place to an other one is usually longer by the autoroute. Basically, the autoroute is much more expensive, because you pay for them and burn more gas (which is about 4 times more expensive than in the US), but if you have time, I recommend the country roads. Most of them are of excellent quality, the views are so much more attractive and where else do you think you’ll be able to drive over a real Roman Bridge ?
Over the course of my 2 weeks I visited 12 mosaic sites or museums : Sens, Autun, Chalon sur Saone, Lyon, Vienne, Saint Romain en Gal, Valence, Ganagobie, Nimes, Vaison la Romaine, Alba la Romaine, Chatillon sur Seine.
There are more places to visit on this road (Tournus, Macon, Bibracte, Anse, Uzes, Arles, Marseille…) but I only had 2 weeks available and wanted to visit some good friends of mine and enjoy some wine and good food with them.
I really stuck to the valleys of the Saone, Rhone and Durance rivers, which were the main axes of land communication between Italy , Provence and Northern Gaul.
If you’d ever like to visit…
Here is a list of the places I went to with their actual addresses to program on your GPS.
Practical information :
- Most French Museums (but not all of them) are closed on Tuesdays; opening hours may vary depending on the period of the year, and they often are closed at lunch time. So it is better to check ahead.
- Presently – October 2021 – all museums request either a French “Passe Sanitaire” or a certificate of anti Covid vaccination to enter.
- Prices of admissions vary from Free to 12 Euros.
I visited those places in the order of the list because it worked well with the timing of my trip, the opening days and hours of the museums. Because I specifically focus on mosaics, I know exactly what I want to see in a museum, and do not spend much more time there, but some of those places are really worth spending much more time than what I needed for the mosaics and would deserve a full day, or more of stay to enjoy all the historical remains and local gastronomy.
|SENS||Musees de Sens||135, rue des Déportés et de la Résistance, 89100 Sens|
|AUTUN||Musee Rolin||3 rue des bancs, 71400 Autun|
|CHALON / SAONE||Musee Denon||place de l’Hôtel de Ville, 71100 Chalon-sur-Saône|
|LYON||Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière||17 Rue Cleberg, 69005 Lyon|
|VIENNE||Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology of Vienne||Pl. de Miremont, 38200 Vienne|
|SAINT ROMAIN EN GAL||Museum and site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal Vienne||D502, 69560 Saint-Romain-en-Gal|
|VALENCE||Musée de Valence, art et archéologie||4 Rue Saint-Didier, 26000 Valence|
|GANAGOBIE||Abbaye de Ganagobie||Le Prieuré, 04310 Ganagobie|
|NIMES||Musee de la Romanite||16 Bd des Arènes, 30900 Nîmes|
|VAISON LA ROMAINE||Archaeological Museum Théo Desplans||Site Antique de Puymin, Rue Bernard Noël, 84110 Vaison-la-Romaine|
|ALBA LA ROMAINE||MuséAl.||99 Route de Viviers, 07400 Alba-la-Romaine|
|CHATILLON SUR SEINE||Musee de Vix||14 Rue de la Libération, 21400 Châtillon-sur-Seine|
Herebelow I’ll just display one of the outstanding mosaics I saw in each one of my stops. I will detail each stop in next articles of this blog.
To say the truth, I did not visit Chatillon for the mosaics but for the fabulous Vix crater, the most formidable bronze crater ever found, dating from the early iron age. I was nevertheless very impressed by the Gallo-roman remains displayed in this remarkable museum.
More details about this October 2021 mosaic trip to come !
I will detail in next articles the mosaics I have seen in each one of those places. If you know of some friends who’d like my blog, please forward them the link to register for my MosaicBlues Newsletter
In the meantime, please stay safe !