Semur-en-Auxois is located in the heart of the pristine Burgundy Wine Country, less than an hour drive from Dijon, and one hour bullet train from the Charles De Gaul airport in Paris. A short bus ride brings you to the heart of town from the train station. For centuries this town has served as an educational and commercial magnet for the sleepy neighboring French villages.
The medieval town center forms a natural citadel, high on a pink granite outcrop above a horseshoe bend of the gentle Armançon River. Legend has it that Semur-en-Auxois was built by Hercules on his way to Spain and the town's appealing strategic geography has attracted human attention for millennia. Even as early as the 7th century, it was referred to in a written charter as "sene muros" or "old walls". The ancient ramparts of the magnificent fortress, and 4 of the 18 original towers remain today, the largest being the 144 foot (44 meters) Tour de l'Orle d'Or. All are lit at night in a spectacular display that can be seen from our windows and front doorstep. Strolling through town, you can find remnants of 14 of the once mighty towers dismantled by the King of France in 1612 to prevent the town from continuing to act as a stronghold for the Dukes of Burgundy opposing the French Crown.
Houses border the river on either side; ours being situated on the riverbank with the most stunning panoramic view of the town's terracotta roofed houses, surviving castle towers and ramparts, cathedral spires, pink granite cliffs, and remaining ancient arched bridge.
In this sleepy little town, the church bells signal the hour twice, just in case you missed it the first time. Dramatically rising above the town, seen from the lush, rolling farmlands that surround Semur, La Collégiale de Notre-Dame Cathedral, is one of the finest 13th century gothic churches in Burgundy, home to many rare 13th and 14th century stained glass windows. Near the church a weekly Farmers Market features local organic produce, cheeses, and fresh-cut flowers.
Despite its rich history and historical landmark status, Semur-en-Auxois is also a thriving modern town with a hospital, pharmacies, full-sized grocery stores, post office, fire department, rental car agency, cyber café, restaurants, bakeries, pubs, and banks. Among its other attractions is a museum, independent bookstores, a Medieval Festival with a horse race called Fêtes de la Bague, an art house movie theater that hosts current films and independent film festivals, and a functioning Italianate Theatre that is designated a World Heritage Site.
In 2007, the town was honored as a host for the Tour de France bicycle race. Bicycling along the canal and through the adjoining countryside remains a well loved tourist activity.
With easy access to world renowned wineries, grass-fed Charolais beef, golfing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, boating the canals, sailing and swimming in the nearby freshwater Lac du Pont, lovely Semur-en-Axois is a delightful vacation destination for the whole family.