In Burgundy, around Alésia

A year ago, the MuséoParc d'Alésia opened its doors in Alise-Sainte-Reine (Côte d'Or) on the site of the famous battle. Mission accomplished: with more than 140 visitors since its opening, the site has found its audience. After the visit, explore the region from Flavigny to Semur-en-Auxois, passing by the superb Abbey of Fontenay. This corner of Burgundy delights the mind, but also the senses.

Visit of the MuséoParc d'Alésia

So it is here at Alise-Sainte-Reine, in the north of Auxois, that this mythical battle in the history of France took place. In 52 BC. AD, the Gauls, entrenched in the oppidum of Alesia, bowed after two months of siege before the troops of Julius Caesar. Despite the tenacity of the men of Vercingetorix, Gaul became Roman. A major turning point in our history and a memory for generations of schoolchildren.

Today, in the very place where the Roman legions were located, stands an unusual circular concrete building, covered with wood. It's about Interpretation center of the MuséoParc d'Alésia, designed by architect Bernard Tschumi. The first stage of a vast historical complex (an archaeological museum will open in 2016) entirely devoted to the battle of Alésia.

Are you bad at history? Don't worry, the MuséoParc d'Alésia is designed for all audiences: from beginners to scientists, from 7 to 77 years old, everyone can find something for them. Children even have the right to a toy library with games and entertainment. The secret of Alésia's magic potion? Learn while having fun. The 3 hours (minimum) of visiting the site pass in a flash.

The museography plays the card of modernity: ancient objects sit alongside facsimiles, multimedia installations, terminals and interactive maps stimulate the visitor, models, dioramas and a spectacular film allow to "see" the forces present. , "legionaries" make fighting demonstrations. Outside, the Roman fortifications have been reconstructed at real size. We don't revise history: we live it and understand it all the better.

Leaving the interpretation center, climb the hill of Alésia to visit the remains of the Gallo-Roman city (XNUMXst-XNUMXth c.) And greet the (colossal) statue of Vercingetorix, erected by Napoleon III. And stop off in the small village of Alise-Sainte-Reine, where the other great local man was born: Canon Kir, the inventor of the famous Burgundy beverage.

Flavigny, anise flavors

6 km from Alésia, the small fortified town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain (350 inhabitants) has remained in its medieval juice. Change of era and atmosphere. Perched on a large rock dominating the forest, the village exudes a discreet and timeless charm with its winding streets and old residences. Flavigny, classified among the Most Beautiful Villages of France, served as the setting for the film Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. A real postcard from sweet France.

People mainly come to Flavigny for its specialty: anise candy, a plant imported to Burgundy by the Romans (again them!). "Flavigny anis" are flavored dragees made since the XNUMXth century, arranged in charming little retro boxes, decorated with a shepherd and a shepherdess. 

It is absolutely necessary to visit the artisanal factory of the Troubat family, installed in an abbey, which today produces some 220 million candies exported around the world. We even call anise, "French lover" in China. A great success made in Burgundy! In season, anise tasting in the Carolingian crypt of the abbey (XNUMXth century).

In the vicinity of Flavigny, stop off at castle of Bussy-Rabutin (XNUMXth century), nestled in the hollow of a wooded valley, or sources of the Seine (in fact, a tiny trickle of water) which is, moreover, an ancient Gallo-Roman sanctuary.

Splendid abbey of Fontenay

The highlight of your trip to Auxoise: the Cistercian abbey of Fontenay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the major sites in Burgundy. A place full of tranquility and spirituality, deeply moving. Rather austere too, like the Cistercian doctrine which strictly applied the monastic rules of poverty and autarky.

Isolated in the hollow of a wooded valley, the abbey has remained as it was founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard. Magnificently restored by its owner, Mr. Aynard, it has preserved its church, its cloister buildings, its forge, its dovecote, its hotel, as well as the remains of its paper industry which saved it from being destroyed after the Revolution.

Imposing in size (66 m long and 16,7 m high), the church is a miracle of sobriety and simplicity. In the transept, a magnificent statue of Notre-Dame-de-Fontenay (XNUMXth century) The monks' dormitory, under its oak frame, the cloister, the chapter house and the gardens also leave you speechless. In summer, nighttime candlelight tours are organized.

Semur-en-Auxois, cape and sword

About twenty km south of Montbard, the village of Semur-en-Auxois worth the detour. Medieval houses perched on a rock, ramparts, Joly bridge (XNUMXth century) spanning the Armançon, spiers of the Gothic Notre-Dame collegiate church, towers of the keep… No, it is not a setting for cape and cape films. sword, but one of the prettiest towns in Burgundy.

Enter by Sauvigny gate, stroll through the alleys, dawdle with your nose in the air while looking at the medieval facades, take a walk on the ramparts which overlook the river.

To recover from the ride, head for Epoisses, 12 km away. Does the name mean anything to you? It is here, in this old medieval stronghold, that the one Brillat-Savarin nicknamed "the king of cheeses" is made. In Burgundy, land of good food and great wines, food can only be spiritual… and that's good for us!


For more information, see our Burgundy online guide

See the article on the opening in 2012 of the Interpretation Center, the first link of the MuséoParc Alésia.

Burgundy Regional Tourism Committee

Côte d'Or Departmental Tourism Committee

Practical information on the MuséoParc d'Alesia

How to get there ?

- Car: A6 motorway, exit 23 Bierre-les-Semur

- TGV to Montbard (1 h 03 from Paris-Lyon). Then, car rental recommended to move around freely.

 - From Montbard, shuttle service to the Abbey of Fontenay, the MuséoParc d'Alésia, the castle of Bussy-Rabutin and Flavigny (€ 2 one way, € 4 day pass). Information:

Or sleep ?

- Alésia bar-hotel-restaurant: 16, rue du Miroir, in Alise-Sainte-Reine. Phone. : 03-80-96-19-67. A small village hotel with a friendly welcome. Concerts are regularly organized.

- Hôtel de la Côte d'Or: 1, rue de la Liberté in Semur-en-Auxois. Phone. : 03-80-97-24-54. In the heart of Semur, a former coaching inn tastefully renovated, with well-equipped rooms and free wifi. Doubles from € 108 (not cheap), but reductions on the Internet.

Where to eat ?

- Auberge du Cheval Blanc: 9, rue du Miroir, in Alise-Sainte-Reine. Phone. : 03-80-96-01-55. Beautiful room with exposed stones with a fireplace in winter. Tasty and delicately personal regional cuisine. Superb cheese platter. Taste the wine of Flavigny-Alésia (chardonnay in white, pinot noir in red). In short, we like it a lot! Menus 33-46 € and 15-18 € for lunch. Chef Régis Bolâtre also runs the Bistrot de Louise, in Venarey-les-Laumes, near the MuséoParc. More affordable prices for a quality table.

- Le Saint-Vernier: 13, rue Févret in Semur-en-Auxois. Phone. : 03-80-97-32-96. A nice wine bar with a warm atmosphere.

Top deals

- Archéo Pass: visit a site and benefit from a preferential rate in other Gallo-Roman sites in Burgundy on presentation of your entry ticket (Alésia, Autun, Bibracte, Trésor de Vix). Visit smart! Same principle on the Fontenay, Bussy-Rabutin and Alésia sites.

For info, full price entry at 9 € (Alésia), 9,5 € (Fontenay) and 7,5 € (Bussy Rabutin). More info on the respective websites.

Useful links

MuséoParc d'Alésia

Anis de Flavigny

Bussy-Rabutin Castle

Fontenay Abbey

Montbard Tourist Office

Alésia Tourist Office

Semur-en-Auxois Tourist Office

Audio Video In Burgundy, around Alésia
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