Saint-Benoît-Sur-Loire - Germigny-Des-Prés
Two major churches, 2,500 years of history
Between them, the Abbey of Fleury in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire and the Oratory of Germigny-des-Prés total over 2,500 years of history.
The former was founded in 630 and the second, just 6km away, was built in 804.
These two fine examples of Christian art differ in many ways, however. In Saint-Benoît, Gregorian chant still echoes, for the Abbey of Fleury is still occupied by a community of monks who open it to visitors. Of the original abbey, only the Basilica church is left, a jewel of Romanesque art.
A Byzantine mosaic in the Loiret
The vestiges of Germigny, meanwhile, are older: this is one of France’s oldest churches. Built by Theodulf, a close adviser to Charlemagne, the oratory is one of the very rare French examples of Carolingian architecture, recognisable by its “Greek cross” layout and above all its cupola covered with mosaics of Byzantine inspiration.
Sheltered by a coppice of tamarix, this 9th century Carolingian oratory was restored in the 19th century and is a truly remarkable Christian sanctuary. The centre of the structure is adorned with a 9th century, mosaic cul-de-four representing the Ark of the Covenant.