Castle & Historical Sites

 

Château du Clos de Vougeot

Since 1944 the château has been owned by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (Brotherhood of the Knights of the Tastevin). Ten years earlier in 1934 a small group of Burgundians met in a cellar in Nuits-Saint-Georges and decided to fight against the slump in wines and form a society whose aim was to promote the wines of France in general and, in particular, those of Burgundy. The brotherhood was founded and its renown grew fast and spread throughout Europe and America. Each year several chapter meetings of the order, well known throughout the world, are held in the 12th century Great Cellar of the château. Five hundred guests take part in these banquets, at the end of which the Grand Master and the Grand Chancellor, surrounded by high dignitaries of the brotherhood, initiate new knights according to strictly observed rites that are based on the Divertissement in Molière’s Malade Imaginaire. During these plenary chapter meetings, the knights of the Tastevin celebrate the first of Les Trois Glorieuses in the château on the eve of the sale of the wines of the Hospices of Beaune, which is held in the town on the following day. The following Monday is devoted to the Paulée de Meursault, a celebration banquet. The château was built during the Renaissance period and restored in the 19th century. The rooms visited include the Grand Cellier (12th century cellar) where the disnées (banquets) and the ceremonies of the Order are held, the 12th century vat cellar containing four huge wine presses, the 16th century kitchen with its huge chimney and ribbed vault supported by a single central pillar, and the monks’ dormitory which has a spectacular 14th century pitched roof. The château is open to visitors from March to October from 09h00 to 11h30 and from 14h00 to 18h00. Content source: Michelin’s Burgundy/Jura The Green Guide. (www.tastevin-bourgogne.com)

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Hospices de Beaune

The Hôtel-Dieu was founded on 4 August 1443, when Burgundy was ruled by Duke Philip the Good (Philippe le Bon). The Hundred Years War had recently been brought to a close by the signing of the Treaty of Arras in 1435. Massacres, however, continued with marauding bands (“écorcheurs”) still roaming the countryside, pillaging and destroying, provoking misery and famine. The majority of the people of Beaune were declared destitute. Nicolas Rolin, the Duke’s Chancellor, and his wife Guigone de Salins, reacted by deciding to create a hospital and refuge for the poor. The hospital (known as the Hôtel-Dieu) received its first patient on 1st January 1452. Elderly, disabled and sick people, with orphans, women about to give birth and the destitute have all been uninterruptedly welcomed for treatment and refuge, from the Middle Ages until today. The Hospice de Beaune is open for visitors everyday. Source of content: Hospice de Beaune website. (www.hospices-de-beaune.com)

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Abbaye de Fontenay

The Abbaye de Fontenay was founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard and it one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in Europe. Up to the 16th century the abbey was prosperous with more than 300 monks and converts, but the regime of Commendam – abbots nominated by royal favour and interested only in revenues – and the disorders caused by the religious wars brought about a rapid decline. The abbey was sold during the French Revolution and became a paper mill. In 1906 new owners undertook to restore Fontenay to its original appearance. They tore down the parts which had been added for the paper mill and rebuilt the abbey just as it was in the 12th century. The many fountains from which the abbey takes its name are today the most beautiful ornaments of the gardens surrounding the buildings: these were added in 1981 to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Visitor can discover the church, dormitory, cloister, forge, gardens and much more. The Abbaye de Fontenay is open for visitors all year round from 10h00 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h00. Source of content: Abbaye de Fontenay website and Michelin’s Burgundy/Jura The Green Guide. (www.abbayedefontenay.com)

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Château de la Rochepot

The Château de La Rochepot has been standing on its rocky peak since the 13th century. On the surrounding grounds, the visitor can see the ruins of the castle which originally occupied the site and was built in the 11th century by Alexander of Burgundy. During the 15th century, the Château became the home of the Lords Régnier and Philippe Pot, both Knights of the Golden Fleece and counsellors to the Dukes of Burgundy. Subsequent owners include members of the Montmorency family and the Cardinal of Retz. At the end of the 19th century the Colonel Sadi Carnot carefully restored the castle which had been destroyed during the French Revolution. The Château de la Rochepot is open from April to October (closed on Tuesdays) from 10h00 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 18h00. Source of content: Château de la Rochepot website.(www.larochepot.com)

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Alésia

Alise-Ste-Reine, also known as Alésia, is situated on the steep slopes of Mont Auxois between the Oze and the Ozerain valleys overlooking the plain of Les Laumes. After his defeat at Gergovie (near Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne) in the spring of 52 BC, Caesar retreated towards the north to join forces with the legions of his lieutenant, Labienus, near Sens. Once the legions were united they began marching towards the Roman base camps, but on the way they were intercepted and attacked near Alésia by the army of the Gauls, under Vercingétorix. Despite the surprise of their attack and their superior numbers, the Gauls suffered a crushing defeat, and Vercingétorix, fleeing from Caesar, decided to retreat with his remaining troops to the camp at Alésia. A memorable siege began. Caesar’s legions worked with pick and shovel to surround the camp with a double line of fortified earthworks, such as trenches, walls, palisades of stakes and towers: the inner ring or earthworks faced Alésia and was designed to prevent any attempts on the part of the besieged to escape, and the outer ring faced outwards to fight off any attacks from Gaulish armies trying to relieve the besieged camp. For six weeks Vercingétorix tried in vain to break through the rings that Caesar had set up. A rescue army of Gauls, 250 000 strong, was also powerless to reach the besieged and finally withdrew, abandoning them to their fate. With all hope of escape gone, Vercingétorix was forced to surrender and, to save his army, gave himself up to Caesar, who paraded him in triumph and eventually had him strangled after imprisoning him for six years in the Tullianum in Rome. Les Fouilles (in Mont Auxois is excavations of the fortified settlement of a Gallo-Roman town which derived its prosperity from its metallurgical activity) – open for visitors from April to November from 10h00 to 18h00. Content source: Michelin’s Burgundy/Jura The Green Guide.

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Château de Bussy-Rabutin

Off the beaten track in a small wooded valley in the Morvan region, surrounded by a formal garden in the French style, Château de Bussy-Rabutin boasts a decoration designed by Roger de Rabutin, count of Bussy. Cousin to Madame de Sévigné and author of l’Histoire amoureuse des Gaules (the loving history of the Gauls), Roger de Rabutin expressed his resentment towards Louis XIV and the nostalgia of his turbulent love affairs on the walls of his château while he was exiled in Burgundy. The château is open to visitors all year around from 09h15 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 18h00 (closed on Mondays). Source of content: Bussy-Rabutin website. (bussy-rabutin.monuments-nationaux.fr)

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Château d’Epoisses

The château is set slightly apart from the village and is enclosed by two fortified precincts ringed by dry moats. The building in the outer courtyard form a small village clustered round the church, once part of a 12th century abbey and a robust 16th century dovecot. A balustraded terrace precedes the court of honour, which is marked by the presence of a well with an attractive wrought-iron well-head. The château was remodelled in the 16th and 17th century and southern range was demolished during the Revolution. The Guitaut family, owners of the chateau since the 17th century, has preserved many mementos of famous people who have stayed there. When in Burgundy, Madame de Sévigné often stayed at Epoisses, with the Guitaut family, as her own château. (www.chateaudepoisses.com)

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Château de Commarin

This 12th century stronghold was transformed in the 15th century by a chamberlain to Philip the Bold who later became commander of the artillery under John the Fearless. The huge enclosure and château were rebuilt many times over the centuries. It is one of the rare châteaux that have been in the same family since the 12th century (Vinne, Damas, Vogüé). Since 1967 the count and countess Louis de Vogüé, the 25th generation owners, live at the château. The château has a rich décor of wall tapestries. The château is open from April to November from 10h00 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 18h00. There are guided tours that last for about 30 minutes. The gardens are open for visits all year round and are open from 08h00 to 18h00. Source of content: Château de Commarin website/Wonderful Burgundy. (www.commarin.com)

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Château de Châteauneauf-en-Auxois

The château commanded the road from Dijon to Autun and the whole of the surrounding plain. In the 12th century, the lord of Chaudenay, whose ruined château stands on an attractive site in Chaudenay-le-Château, built this fortress for his son. It was enlarged and refurbished at the end of the 15th century in the Flamboyant Gothic style by Philippe Pot, Seneschal of Burgundy. There is an identical replica of the tomb of Philippe Pot (which was found in Citeaux but later moved to the Louvre). In 1936 it was presented to the French State by its owner at the time, count G. de Vogüé. The château is open for visitors from May to November from 10h00 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 18h00. Content source: Michelin’s Burgundy/Jura The Green Guide.

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Château de Bazoches

Built in the twelfth century, halfway up a wooded hill, upon the site of an old Roman post on the gateway to Morvan, with a direct view on Vezelay (at 10 km), the feudal Château de Bazoches, has a trapezoidal architecture made up of four towers and a keep surrounding an inner courtyard.

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5 Recommended day trips