Saint-Léger Church, ArronnesSaint-Léger Church, Arronnes
©Saint-Léger Church, Arronnes|Cindy Michaud
Cluniac sites

When Cluny shone

With or without a pilgrim’s staff, discovering the Cluniac churches, sometimes built in unlikely places, is like flipping through the pages of Romanesque art.


The Cluniac Order

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the construction of the abbey church at Cluny, in Burgundy, which was the largest Romanesque abbey, generated an extraordinary influence propelled by the Cluniac order, created by abbot William the Pious. This order exerted its influence and building fever for nine centuries.

The development of

Romanesque Art

Over the centuries, Cluny spread, promoting the development of Romanesque art, via the installation of new congregations that were sometimes modest, as they brought together small units of monks, as in the Bourbonnais. Four Cluniac sites Saint-Germain-des Fossés, Arronnes, Châtel-Montagne and Seuillet testify around Vichy to Cluny’s influence. Some sites are modest, others reveal imposing architecture.


Our Lady of the Priory

This Cluniac site consisting of a church, classified as a Monuments Historiques, since 1968, a pigeon loft built in the seventeenth century has retained its conventual buildings. In part of these reside the brothers of the community of St. John. This priory became the property of the commune in 1979. It ensures its restoration in partnership with the association of Friends of the past and the bishopric.


Saint-Leger Church

Dedicated to Saint Leger and founded in the sixth century, the building of the priory led to the development of a medieval village. The valley of the Sichon was, in the past, a busy place of passage so this priory was intended to welcome travelers heading to the Forez.

In the 14th century, the monks left Arronnes and the priory fell into ruins. Only the Romanesque church remains, built of granite from the Montagne bourbonnaise, except for the entrance portal, which is made of light limestone.


Church of Our Lady

Notre Dame Church is the most imposing of these Cluniac sites in the Vichy district. It deploys its sober architecture: square bell tower and western facade adorned with a granite porch. The craze for pilgrimages would explain the importance given to this site of the Bourbonnaise Mountain.


Saint Martial Church

The 12th-century Romanesque Auvergne-style church of Saint-Martial is said to have been built on the remains of a former stronghold.

It has been classified as a Historic Monument since 1945 and since 2014, it has been stamped a Cluniac site.