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Saulieu is a French commune with 2,413 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017) in the Côte-d’Or department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Bourgogne) region. Saulieu is best known as a location for top restaurants.



There was a fortified settlement in the Saulieu region as early as the Gallo-Roman era. The Franks expanded this settlement further. In the 12th century, the St. Andoche Cathedral was built, making the city an important spiritual center.

The Romanesque basilica of St. Andoche dates from the 12th century.

The Saint-Andoche church is located in Saulieu in Burgundy and houses the tomb of Saint Andochius. The history of the church dates back to early Christian times. A chapel at the burial site of the oriental missionary and martyr Andochius was mentioned as early as the beginning of the 5th century. A basilica was first mentioned at this point in 722, but it fell victim to the Saracen storms in 731. In 843 the Carolingian building was handed over to the Bishop of Autun, and in 1109 the relics were transferred to the church.

In 1125, Bishop Etienne de Bâgé ordered a comprehensive new building. The choir and transept of the church, completed around 1150/1160, were destroyed by the troops of Edward the Third in the middle of the 14th century. Not until 1704 did a simple polygonal choir replace the original eastern structure. The sculptures on the west portal fell victim to the destruction in the wake of the French Revolution. A restoration carried out in 1869 brought about a further loss of the original architectural and structural plastic substance.

In 1919 the church received from Pope Benedict XV. bestowed the title of a minor basilica.

Details and architecture
The capitals of St. Andoche were created after the capitals in Autun. The stone carvings in Saulieu may have been made by one of the students of master Gislebertus (Autun).

The 50 capitals in St. Andoche are more plastic than in Autun and show vegetal decoration in the side aisles. The scenic capitals are on the west sides of the pillars. The first pair of pillars is an exception. On the north side you can see plant ornaments on the 1st pillar. In the Romanesque era, plants are a symbol of the order of creation. 2nd pillar: the prophet Balaam and his donkey. The donkey draws the prophet's attention to an angel who stands in their way. 3rd pillar: The temptation of Jesus. 4th pillar: Pet de l’ours, literally: "Bear's fart". According to an ancient pagan legend, this is how bears bring souls into the New Year. Christian tradition later transferred this task to Blasius von Sebaste, who helps to hold the tails of the bears aloft on the right and left of the capital. 5th pillar: acanthus, in Romanesque a symbol for resurrection and immortality.

On the right, on the south side, from the entrance towards the choir you can see: 1st pillar: Two dragons (Leviathan), symbol for chaos and diabolical powers 2nd pillar: The risen appears to Mary of Magdala 3rd pillar: Suicide of Judas Iscariot (cf. with Autun) 4th pillar: Flight to Egypt (cf. with Autun) 5th pillar: Three pigs dance to the music of a shepherd. Symbol for animal lust and unrestrainedness.

The unusual arrangement of the capitals, the sense of which is usually in a west-east direction, suggests that the layman was not primarily addressed here, but the monks who entered the room from the south. Looking from this direction of view sometimes to the left and sometimes to the right, one discovers a program of images and symbols that alternates between good and bad.


Musée Regional François Pompon

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