After 10 years of closure for renovation, the cloister of Saint-Vincent cathedral was reopened to the public during the Heritage Days in September 2019. Unfortunately, it will only be accessible to the public during the future Heritage Days and during guided tours organized by the Chalon Heritage Space (see Chalon page). These visits are rare and when they do occur, we pass the information on to our guests.
This cloister is the only one built against a cathedral in Burgundy. The presence of canons in Chalon-sur-Saône is documented since 885. Archaeological surveys have made it possible to determine that the cloister space was definitively enclosed around the year 1000, which makes it a building with origins older than the cathedral itself. The cathedral was rebuilt around 1090. The canons lived in individual houses around a courtyard, the current Place du Cloître Saint Vincent.
In the 14th-15th century a brick and stone staircase was built for the dean of the canons. This so-called Doyenné (Deanery) Tower was sold in the 19th century and moved to Paris. It was later bought by an American patron, brought back to Chalon and placed on the Ile Saint-Laurent where it can now be seen on the banks of the river.
Around 1500 the galleries were covered by brick vaults on intersecting stone ogives characteristic of the Gothic era. The cloister underwent, like many religious buildings in Chalon, many degradations during the wars of religion. Monastic life gradually disintegrated until the Revolution which brought a definitive halt when the sale of the building to multiple owners was authorised. It was not until 1928 that the cloister was declared an Historic Monument and it was acquired by the city of Chalon in 1956.
The restoration during these 10 years focused on:
- the removal of existing unattractive roof terraces responsible for water infiltration and the installation of traditional roofs in flat tiles thus giving effective rainwater collection,
- the interior restoration of the three galleries East, West and South including the replacement of degraded stones, restoration of the ribs of the vaults and sculptures, and the application of a lime coating on the walls and the vaults,
- the recreation of the northern gallery which had been almost entirely destroyed and the integration of a few discreet touches of modernity with golden rings and small modern sculptures on the capitals.
In the end, a very beautiful place in Chalon has been recreated and is not to be missed if you have the possibility of visiting. The Heritage Activities service of the city of Chalon offers visits to the cloister of Saint-Vincent cathedral with a tour guide from the “Villes et pays d’art et d’histoire” network.