I have briefly touched on our visit to Châteauneuf-en-Auxios in one of my previous posts, but as with our stay in Dijon, I was remiss in not providing more information on this lovely place where we spent quite a few hours.
Our initial route out of Dijon had taken us south west, along the Ouche River/Canal system. About midday, we reached the point where this river was joined by the Vandanesse and as this point we turned northwards, still following a canal route. The riding was easy and a lot fun. We raced barges on the canal (no challenge there, they had to keep stopping at each lock!), waved to their contented passengers and generally just enjoyed the warm, sunny afternoon.
I was deep in thought, watching the cycle track when KJ told me to look up and see what was ahead! We had come upon the first of many castles or Châteaux that we were to see on this tour.
We had not planned to visit the Château, but simply could not go past without stopping. I was a bit concerned about how I would cope with the fully loaded bike on my first hill, but it was easy. In fact, I was very impressed with the Anthem’s performance on every uphill slope (OK, let me be honest, I was also rather impressed with my ability to manage the hills 😆 . My rate was slow, but I got to the top of each hill without feeling exhausted or stressed, so I could get up a lot of hills each day).
Things were surprisingly quiet at the Château. In fact, for a long time we were the only visitors. This was good for us, as we were a bit concerned about leaving our fully loaded bikes at the entrance.
However, common sense dictated that we were going to be very restricted in our sightseeing if we felt obliged to watch all our gear all the time. So we removed the valuables, locked the bikes to the racks provided and went and purchased our tickets.
This was our approach all through the trip and it worked well. [Bike security is a whole post on its own and will not be covered here.]
The village of Châteauneuf is apparently a very busy little place in the height of the tourist season*. But on the day we were there, it was quiet and largely deserted.
From within the walls of the castle, the Auxios plain is in full view with the Burgundy canal dividing it in two halves. In the distance the Morvan hills are visible on a clear day. The sun was unfortunately in the wrong place for me to get them in my photo.
Some of the rooms in the Chateau have been restored and are displayed in their original style*.
The history of the castle is beautifully summarised by Phillip Aldridge on the Burgundy Canal.com website:
“The castle was built in 1132 by Jean de Chaudenay for his second son Jehan. Jehan took possession of Castro Novo in 1175. The family reigned over the fief for 9 generations, en ending in tragedy in 1456, when Cathrine of Châteauneuf was burnt to death, after poisoning her second husband, Jacques d’Haussonville.
The castle was then given by Philippe le Bon (Duke of Burgundy) to his godson Philippe Pot. The interior courtyard buildings were rebuilt and the castle made much more comfortable. As Philippe Pot had no children and died in 1493 the estate was given to his brother Guy Pot and through marriages Marie Liesse de Luxembourg. As she became a Carmelite nun, the castle and lands were purchased by Charles de Vienne, (Count of Commarin). For almost 150 years the castle remained in the family, until Louis Henri de Vienne sold to a rich banker “Paris de Montmartel” in 1767. Through various heritage the castle returned into the hands of the Veinne family.”
After the French revolution, the family lost the castle and the estate was divided. Wherever the coat of arms or symbols of royalty appeared, these were defaced or destroyed.
Whereas I had read and heard about the French Revolution, seeing this crest made this piece of history suddenly become a reality. I was quite captivated by it because of this.
The other thing which I found quite strange, was the presence of a very ornate well in the castle courtyard. Given that the buildings are on top of a high hill, the water must have been a very long way down! I am pleased I did not have the job of winding up the water – it would have been an all-day occupation!
I was particularly fascinated by the section of the Château where the floors had gone. Beautiful fireplaces, window frames and doorways were still attached to walls, but there was no way of getting to them. I found this in many old castles we visited during our tour and it intrigued me without fail each time*!
(*Mouseover the images for a caption, or click for a larger view)
(Follow this link for the itinerary and details for our Tour of France)