Nestled in the south of France’s Burgundy region, the medieval town of Cluny grew up around its 10th-century Benedictine abbey. Today, visitors admire what remains of this once powerful establishment before discovering the town’s Gothic and Romanesque architecture, church, and other treasures.
Most visit Cluny for Cluny Abbey, once one of Europe’s largest religious buildings and mother house to more than 1,000 monasteries. Only remnants of the abbey still stand, including the church transept and belltower, the granary, some 17th-century cloisters, the enclosure walls, and tower remains. The on-site Museum of Art and Archaeology also showcases some of the sculptural decorations that graced the church. After exploring the abbey, visitors usually delve into Cluny’s cobbled streets to admire its architecture and other attractions.
Exploring Cluny Abbey offers a unique window into the rituals and wealth of Europe’s monasteries in the Middle Ages. Tour independently or rent an audio guide for further insight into the buildings. It’s worth prebooking admission tickets to save time on the day and enable you to skip any lines at the ticket booths.
Things to know before you go
- Cluny is a must for those interested in medieval European history.
- Most areas of the abbey are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.
- On-site facilities include a bookshop and restrooms.
- Audio guides can be rented at the entrance.
- Admission tickets to the abbey cover its art and archaeological museum.
How to get there
Cluny sits between Beaune and Lyon, just west of France’s A6 highway. The nearest train station is at Mâcon, about a 25-minute drive or cab journey away. If you’re traveling by car, take the A6 south Mâcon exit before following the N79 and D980 to Cluny. A payable car park sits a short walk from the abbey.
When to get there
Cluny is busiest in July and August, when it pays to arrive as early as possible to enjoy the town and its abbey at their quietest. Cluny Abbey is open daily, with the exception of January 1, May 1, November 1, November 11, and December 25: during the off-season, the site closes for a lunch break.
Highlights of Cluny and Cluny Abbey
While only parts of Cluny Abbey survive, clever interactive features enable visitors to appreciate its past scale and magnificence. A 3D film charts the abbey’s development, while virtual presentations let you imagine the buildings as they would have looked in their heyday. After exploring the abbey, be sure to stroll around Cluny. Must-sees include its Gothic church and Hôtel-Dieu—the medieval hospital. Horse lovers won’t want to miss the Haras National de Cluny equestrian center, a 19th-century stud farm with stables, purebred horses, and exhibitions.
- Château de Meursault
- Domaine Debray
- Fallot Mustard Mill (La Moutarderie Fallot)
- Hospices de Beaune
- Clos de Vougeot
- Route des Grands Crus
- Dijon Ducal Palace (Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne)
- Dijon Cathedral (Cathedral of Saint Benignus of Dijon)
- Hôtel de Vogüé
- Rue des Forges
- Château de Bazoches
- Guedelon Castle