Posted on Jun 05, 2010 in category

Today we leave our base here at Bibracte to travel a little further to the north of Burgundy into the Cote d’Or region. On the weekend breakfast at Bibracte is served at 9.00 am rather than 7.30 so in order to get away earlier we settled for a shared Australian museli bar.

The new Citroen C5 is a rather roomy and luxurious car so it’s great to have heaps of room for luggage but driving a large ‘voiture’ on narrow Burgundian roads needs concentration. Our destination was the oppidum of Alesia, the site of Caesar’s incredible victory over Vercingtorix pronounced VER/SUNK/GER/TRICE.
On the way to Alesia we stumbled across a magnificently preserved medieval castle surrounded by a moat at Posanges.


Roadworks blocked our entry to the Gallo-Roman town built on top of the oppidum. We had to don the backpack and walk up the oppidum hill. I appreciated Caesar’s efforts to take this site even more after this climb. The panorama of this site is breathtaking. The oppidum is situated in the middle of several surrounding hills sitting upright in a circular valley. Caesar had to build two defensive walls: one to besiege the Gauls in the oppidum; the other to stop Gallic cavalry from outside bringing supplies and reinforcements. The Romans were sandwiched in the middle.


A typical vista of the surrounding hills. Gallic reinforcements came over the far hill. 


Next stop was the Cistercian monastery of Fontenay near Montbard. Founded by Saint Bernard in 1098 the monastery sits neatly into a low rocky gully. Ironically a fleeing English bishop from Norwich helped finance the construction of many buildings. Only the bare bones of the cathedral and its surrounding vaulted rooms survive. Apart from the architecture, the gardens and water features are other beautiful aspects of Fontenay.

The main courtyard garden and central fountain.


There are huge stone pillar columns but the floor is only a sandy base and there are no magnificent stained glass windows here.

Our stop for the night was at Semur-en-Auxois. Our hotel was a Logis hotel, the Hotel De La Cote d’Or in the heart of the medieval town. The room had been recently renovated yet they still managed to maintain the historical charm with massive exposed timber beams. That early evening we walked around the town’s cobbled streets admiring its abundant heritage.
An impressive 15th century chateau gateway to Semur-en-Auxois. Can you see the wooden bracing of the walls in the middle? A huge crack in one of the towers (on the left) looks serious too.

A relatively quiet Saturday night in Semur-en-Auxois


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