Seeing art without eyes

Odd but it seemed like every second person I overheard today was Australian. The biggest surprise was as I was walking around the Musee de Beaux Artes, taking in a bit of religious art. A couple with a stroller (and a child in the stroller) were coming towards me. I didn’t pay much attention until the mother warned the child that she wasn’t to get out of the stroller. “But I want to go to the toilet,” said the child. “Okay but then it’s straight back in the stroller,” replied mum.

It’s quite strange when all you hear around you is French and then, suddenly, it’s English and you understand it. Add to that the fact that it’s said with an Aussie twang and the strangeness is increased.

I mean, who knew that Dijon is a favoured Australian destination? These people I’ve overheard are not in groups; they are families strolling around Dijon, just like us only from a little bit further away. I guess we should ask them but I quite like pretending I’m French and listening in with them thinking I can’t understand them.

Besides listening to and avoiding Australians, today we hopped on a tram (there’s a stop just across from our hotel) down to Darcy (no relation) Square to start our Owl Trail day. The Owl Trail is a bit of genius. Small metal arrows with owls on them are stuck to the footpath (or road) and point you along the route. At various points there is a big square plaque which indicates there’s something interesting to look at. If you have your trusty Owl Trail Guide with you, you can then read about it. It’s a wonderful way to see the city.

First up, though, was a short stroll through the park where a bunch of people were setting up for some alternate power options and looking just like a country fair.

Shopping in Jardin Darcy

Shopping in Jardin Darcy

The motto for the day was ‘Change the system, not the climate’ which I think is quite clever and very appropriate. Not that we hung around long enough to change anything. We had a date with a couple of muffins and a coffee. Actually, we didn’t know it was going be muffins but that’s all the guy had (other than carrot cake) at the cafe we stopped at for breakfast. Still, it was very pleasant sitting outside in the shade, watching the micro-buses quietly pass by.

Tiny, mini, micro-bus

Tiny, mini, micro-bus

I love these little electric buses. They manage to get up and down the thinnest lanes and make very little noise while doing it. They have no exhaust. They are all about changing the system and not the climate. Wish they had some in London then maybe the place would smell a bit better.

Having had our breaky we followed a few more owls, noting a few more important buildings, before arriving at the Musee des Beaux Arts, somewhere I was really looking forward to seeing while we were here. And I managed to see most of it.

Possibly one of the most impressive things about the museum is the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy. The museum is housed in what was once part of the Burgundian Ducal Palace and the tombs of Philip the Bold and John the Fearless and his wife Margaret of Bavaria, remain in place.

John & Mary

John & Mary

Completed in 1470 (Bold Phil’s was completed in 1410), they have been through a bit of a torrid time over the centuries. They were actually in the charterhouse of Champmol until the Revolution when they went into storage…a rather smart move given the charterhouse was completely demolished. In 1792 they took up residence in the St Benign Cathedral. Finally, after a bit of restoration work on the figures, they were put where they are now (the old guardroom) in 1826. And, for all that, they look fantastic.

Beneath the slabs are lots of little figures, monks in various poses (one holding his nose), mourning the deaths of Phil, John and Mary. Truly wonderful pieces of art. The colour alone brings these ancient people to life…metaphorically at least.

The tombs, though remarkable, were but a small part of the whole, most of which I saw…as I said. I’m not going to bore my reader with everything I loved. Rather, I’ve put a few things on Flickr and I’m just going to mention a few on here.

First, this is for Karen. I’m not going say what it is because she should know. Anyone else will just have to work it out.

For Karen

For Karen

Second, here’s a lovely depiction of a horned Moses.


The reason Moses is sometimes shown as horned is because of a translation of Exodus which read that when Moses returned from his chat with god, massive great slabs of commandments tucked under his arm, his face appeared to have acquired horns. And so, true to their sources, a lot of artists gave him horns. A little later, translators thought it meant there were rays of light coming out of his head, like horns. The whole thing is a bit convoluted and not worth going into here. Suffice it to say that sometimes Moses has horns and sometimes he doesn’t. I think they make him look quite devilish.

And thirdly and, breathe a sigh of relief, finally: the Statue Room. I think this room is particularly beautiful.


We were pretty much tuckered out after wandering the lengths and breadths of the museum (actually I wandered a bit more than Mirinda who I sort of bumped into just beyond the Statue Room, having lost her in the tomb room), so we adjourned to the brassiere for some lunch.

Now, I’m not one to complain but the food took an age to arrive. When it did arrive it was very nice but I think they’d forgotten us. I had visions of our order having slipped off the counter and ended up under the fridge for a bit, before someone found it, flustered and made up the order.

It was just after we’d finished lunch, that yet another wedding intruded on our day. This time a photographer was trying to get the bride to fit in with the architecture. While I rather liked the bride’s dress, I must admit that the tattoo left me a bit cold.


Not that you can see her tattoo from that photograph. It was a rather amateur rendition of a leaf. You can almost make it out from this photo. It spoilt the overall look of the dress, if you ask me.


Still, I don’t have to look at it any more so we’ll just move on a bit.

After the Musee des Beaux Arts, we headed across to the Musee Magnin as this was somewhere Mirinda had read about.

Back in the 17th century, Maurice Magnin and his sister Jeanne bought the house and started collecting art. LOTS of art. The house now holds their collection and you can pay a small fee and see it.

It was a terrific site to visit with their collection taking up the majority of the rooms…actually ALL of the rooms. They had rather eclectic tastes and there is clearly something for everyone. While some of the art left me a bit curious, nothing left me quite as curious as the ‘art class’ I stumbled across.

In one of the final rooms, about ten people, each sitting in a folding chair they had bought with them, were giving their full attention to a woman who was standing in front of them, describing and generally discussing a series of paintings on the wall in front of them. This is all fine and possibly a great idea for an outing for a bunch of oldies…except for one thing. They were all blindfolded. Actually, that’s not exactly true. There was a blind woman who wasn’t blindfolded.

While this might be a bit odd (perhaps it was an ‘Art class for the blind’) it became even stranger when the woman giving the talk stopped to ask if there were any questions and a woman in the second row put her hand up. The woman at the front asked her what her question was and the blindfolded woman talked at length about a specific painting (she pointed at it) before stopping with a question mark. The woman at front said what sounded like ‘Now that’s a good question, Gladys…’ and went on with the answer.

Maybe they were training to use the Force in Art Appreciation…I don’t know. I was freaked out totally by this stage so I went through them to the next room. Going through a group of blindfolded people is remarkably easy.

Staircase at Musee Magnin

Staircase at Musee Magnin

We were about ready to go back to the hotel but decided to have a drink first, followed by an ice cream (I had lychee and rose flavour, which is going down in my most favourite ice cream flavours book) then a quick visit to the antique store for Mirinda to buy a 19th century miniature. Then, of course, Mirinda had to go and rub the owl with her correct hand…which was the left one. She rubbed it once for mum and once for herself.

Then, finally, we went back to the hotel where we had a delicious dinner in the restaurant downstairs before going to bed.

Tomorrow we’re off to Mont St Jean. I’m going to miss Dijon.

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2 Responses to Seeing art without eyes

  1. Mum says:

    Thank you Mirinda I know that will be lucky for me. That was very interesting I have a bit of trouble trying to say the French words but enjoying the holiday with you both.
    Love mum xx

  2. Mum says:

    Forgot to say I don’t like the dress or the tattoo but then I am old fashion
    Love mum xx

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