The town of Saulieu is in the heart of Burgundy, at the cross-roads between its four departments : Yonne, Côte-d’Or, Nièvre and Saône-et-Loire. The town was established by the Romans along the road which crossed Gaul from north to south, and has always been a stopping-off point, which explains the importance of gastronomy to the town : in the 1950s, for example, Saulieu was 5 hours from Paris by car, and at that time people had to stop there to refuel and get a bite to eat.
Alexandre Dumaine, the chef at L’Hostellerie de la Côte-d’Or, with its three Michelin stars, used to act as host to the entire jet set of Europe on their way down to the Riviera or over to the Alps. This was the historic property that caught Bernard Loiseau’s eye and he decided to breathe new life back into this legendary hotel.
But with the arrival of the motorway, the airplane and the TGV, everything changed. Now Saulieu is no longer a place where you have to stop but people still come for its gastronomy and to visit Burgundy. It is a key stepping-off point if you want to head in a variety of directions. Saulieu is located between Chablis and Beaune, between Auxerre and Dijon, between Beaune and Châtillon-sur-Seine, between the Auxois and the Morvan.
- The Tour d’Auxois :
The Tour d’Auxois is across from the plain of the same name and from Relais Bernard Loiseau, and is the only remaining vestige of a rampart built to protect the town from invasion.
- Pompon’s bull :
this sculpture is one of François Pompon’s (1855-1933) last works. It is world famous and does not represent a Charolais (the croup is evidence of this), but a bull from the Lyon region, which the artist sculpted when he was staying with his friend Edouard Herriot.
- François Pompon Museum :
this museum, in a 17th century town house in the heart of the town, houses a large number of works by this artist who was native to Saulieu : ‘Cosette’, ‘The Country Priest, ‘The Panther’ and ‘Pigeon in its Nest’. The famous animal sculptor was often imitated but never equalled… He achieved recognition, at the age of 68, with ‘Polar Bear’, currently on exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Since summer 2008, it has also been possible at the Museum to view an Evangelistary said to have belonged to ‘Charlemagne’ (history has it that he donated it to the town). This work has quite stunning binding, with two ivory plates.
There is also a room for culinary arts (Alexandre Dumaine and Bernard Loiseau).
Further information: http://www.saulieu.fr
- Saint-Andoche Basilica :
this 12th century basilica in Burgundian Romanesque, erected on the site of the martyrdom of the Apsotles of Saulieu (Saint-Andoche, a missionary from the near East, and his disciple Thyrse, martyrs for their faith with Félix, a merchant from Saulieu who had welcomed them in, and who died around 170). The basilica is admired for its 12th century stone nave and for its remarkable Romanesque capitals. These illustrate three major series of subjects : scenes from the Old Testament (Balaam on his donkey), the New Testament (the Resurrection of Christ, the Hanging of Judas), universal and local flora (acanthus, fern, vine), fantastic and domestic birds and animals (eagle, owl, cock fighting, dove, bee, guivre).
This is a magical, immaculately-preserved, area covered in forest and dotted with copses, rivers, lakes and and very typical villages. Morvan offers a reala change of scenery and the chance to take a rest, and it is also a destination of choice for everyone who enjoys walking, mountain biking, fishing and white water sports. Chamboux (5 km from Saulieu), Saint-Agnan and Settons lakes are ideal places for a peaceful walk or to jog.
‘Morvan is home to important historical sites such as the feudal castle of Bazoches’
In Saint-Brisson, there is the Park House where children can play, find out about flora and fauna and follow the bird trail around a pond. TheMorvan is also home to important historical sites, such as the feudal castle of Bazoches, residence of the famous Marshal of Vauban,and Mont Beuvray and the site at Bibracte, with their Celtic remains. Half-way back to Saulieu, you can see superb Gallo-Roman remains at Autun, including two Roman gates, the ancient theatre and Saint-Lazare cathedral.
The Auxois plain is home to a large number of beatifully-preserved aristocratic buildings. Indeed, almost every village has its own castle, fortified house or manor house. The rolling farmland, with its hedges and trees, has, here and there, herds of fine white-coated Charolais cattle peacefully chewing the cud in the lush green meadows. Two villages are worth a visit : Epoisses, well known for its cheese (Fromagerie Berthaut), and Semur-en-Auxois, with its handsome ramparts over the river, its old town and collegiate church. Then 5 minutes from Montbard, there is magnificent Fontenay Abbey, a masterpiece of Romanesque art (10th century), the best known and best preserved of Cistercian abbeys and Unesco World Heritage site.
‘Not to be missed on any account: Fontenay Abbey and the medieval village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain’
If you continue in the direction of Bussy-le-Grand, you will come across the castle of Count de Bussy-Rabutin with its portraits mischeivously annotated by the Count himself. And another place that you should not miss on any account is the superb medieval village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, which is recognised as ‘one of the most beautiful villages in France’, with its ancient abbey, its picturesque little streets with their arcades and spiral staircases, and its workshop where aniseed balls are made. The film ‘Chocolate’ with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche was shot in this very village.
Beaune is the capital of the world-famous vineyard and is also a city of art, history and festivals. It lies 50 minutes to the south of Saulieu on the N6-D906. The famous Hospices, a masterpiece of flamboyant Gothic art, are an absolute must to visit. This is where the famous wine auction is held (November). Just across from the Hospices is the Athenaeum, an immense bookshop that stocks everything you could wish for in the area of wine and gastronomy (3000 works, maps, wine-related accessories…). There are festivals throughout the year : Crime Film Festival in April, International Baroque Opera Festival in July, Jazz Festival in September…
Wine-tasting visits are organised to Château Meursault and Château Pommard, and appointments can be made at Château de Beaune for Bouchard Père & Fils, and any other vineyard that you find out about from our sommelier… And then you can enjoy a meal at our restaurant, Loiseau des Vignes, which is close to the Hospices. You can improve your acquaintanceship with Côtes and Hautes-Côtes de Beaune in those evocatively-named villages : Pommard, Nantoux, Auxey-Duresses, Monthélie, Saint-Romain, Saint-Aubin, Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault, Volnay...
Children will love to visit the superb Château de la Rochepot. And you can follow the Route des Grands Crus by taking the N74 towards Dijon, with Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Vougeot (Château du Clos de Vougeot), Chambolle-Musigny, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis...
Further information: http://www.beaune.fr
The capital of the Dukes of Burgundy offers a wealth of treasures. Take your time to stroll through the medieval streets in the quarter of the Antiquairies, in Rue de la Verrerie and Rue de la Chouette, and admire the fine private townhouses and half-timbered mansions, the churches, not to mention Dijon’s museums, particularly the Museum of Fine Arts in the Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne. On your way back to Saulieu, near Pouilly-en-Auxois, you’ll find the medieval village of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, one of the 'most beautiful villages in France' with its 12th and 15th century fortified castle which overlooks the valley of the Ouche and the Burgundy canal, right next to the Château de Commarin.
More information: http://www.dijon.fr
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