Auxerre (Autissiodorensis), Chablis & Dijon (Castrum Divionense) (région Bourgogne, France)  

The Burgundy region (région Bourgogne) has a long and complicated history, much simplified here. A celtic area, then a Roman region, the area was organized into a kingdom by the Burgundii, a migrating Germanic tribe from Savoy, in the 5th century A.D. after the Roman Empire in the west fell apart. Throughout the Merovingian period, it was subjected to numerous partitions. Burgundy nevertheless survived as a political concept, and after the partitions of the Carolingian empire two new Burgundian kingdoms arose. Robert II, Duc de Bourgogne, born circa 970, became Roi de France (known as Robert Le Pieux). The crown gifted away this region later on. At the height of its later power in the 14th and 15th centuries, Burgundy controlled vast territories in present-day Netherlands, Belgium, and northeast France. It was incorporated into the French crown lands by Louis XI in 1477, after 1000 years of off and on conflict. The modern-day administrative région of Bourgogne comprises most of the former Duchy of Burgundy (Duché de Bourgogne) plus area around Auxerre and Chablis (and northward) that was just outside that domain. Note: They became part of Burgundy with the Treaty of Arras (1435).

Bourgogne's classic wine produits are centered below Auxerre (Yonne) and at Chablis (Serein) -- and further southeast below Dijon (mustard capital of the known universe) along the Saône going into Lyon. see Map HERE Venez découvrir Beine prés Chablis -- Le vignoble est omniprésent puisqu'il est l'un des plus importants du Chablisien avec plus de 600 hectares en production dont un tiers en Premier Cru.

Eglise Saint-Pierre, Chablis, Yonne, Bourgogne, FRANC Auxerre (Yonne département): The Abbey of St-Germain d'Auxerre, founded in 422 by the bishop and Saint Germain (Germanus died in July 31st AD), was first named in honour of Saint Maurice. It took the name of its founder when it was rebuilt as a Benedictine abbey. Patricus (St. Patrick) was under his tutelage for 12 years, before returning as an apostle to the Irish. Germanus became popular in Celtic Britain, after several visits there. On his return to Gaul, after his second visit to Britain, he proceeded to Armorica (Brittany) to intercede for the Armoricans who had been in rebellion against Rome. His entreaties on their behalf at Ravenna before the Empress were granted; but, the stress of the journey ended his life. His body was returned to Auxerre.

The tribute to the memory of the saint (a large church) was the gift of Queen and Saint Clotilda, wife of Clovis, first Christian King of France. Some centuries later, Charles the Bald had the shrine opened, and the body was found intact (often hailed as a sign of holiness). The corpse then was embalmed, wrapped in precious linens and placed in a more prominent position in the sanctuary. There it was preserved till 1567, when Auxerre was taken by the Huguenots, who desecrated the shrine and cast out the relics. July 30th: Saint Ursus (d. 508 AD) of Autissiodorensis (Auxerre) was bishop of that city. He had been a hermit monk at the church of Saint Amator before being elected bishop at the age of 75. It is said he was selected after he had saved the town from a fire thru his prayers. July 30th is his feast day. The commune of Rocamadour (far (100 miles) to the south) is said to have been named after Saint Amator, who is believed to have been the founder of this ancient sanctuary. The crypt of Saint-Amadour is situated there. The church of Notre Dame (circa 1479) contains a wooden Black Madonna reputed to have been carved by St. Amator.

Back to Auxerre, the earliest surviving architectural remains of the Church of St. Germain date from the ninth century. The abbey's residential and auxiliary service buildings, remodeled as a museum, show prehistoric, Galo-Roman and medieval relics from the City of Auxerre. The abbey is a fine example of a monument studied thoroughly and presented to its best advantage. see

Other places to visit: City Centre houses (olde towne); Cathédrale Saint-Étienne d'Auxerre (11th-16th centuries); Les Cloche et Belfort in the olde towne; Église St. Pierre en Vallée (17th-18th centuries), established over a 6th century abbey; Church of St. Eusèbe à Auxerre, founded in the 7th century (rebuilt). St. Peregrinus (Pélérin -- "pilgrim") founded the ancient Diocese of Auxerre in the 3rd Century AD, according to the legend. He was sent by pope Sixtus II and later martyred under Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303 or 304. On November 29, 1801 the bishopric was suppressed, on October 7, 1817, restored, in 1821 again suppressed. On June 3, 1823 it was united (having no separate titular bishop) to the diocese of Sens, which lost its Metropolitan status in 2006 to become part of the Ecclesiastical Province of the archbishopric of Dijon. The Cathedral of Auxerre, first completed in 1178, contains numerous sculptures in the Byzantine style.

The origins of Chablis (Yonne département) go back to the 2nd century B.C. when it existed as a Gallic village situated at the south gate of the present town. The first vines were probably planted in the 1st century A.D., but were never really developed until two centuries later under the auspices of the Roman Emperor Probus (276-282). In the year 510 A.D., Sigismond, the first Christian king of the Burgundians, founded a monastery dedicated to Saint Loup, where the present Church of Saint Martin now stands. During the 8th century, the monastery of St. Loup and the borough of Chablis became the property of Charles Martel and his successors. In the year 854, the monks of Tours, fleeing from the Viking invasions along the Loire, took refuge in the Abbey of St. Germain of Auxerre, bringing with them the relics of their patron Saint Martin. Pictures of other churches along the Serein River.

Several houses with wine cellars that date back to the 13th century remain in today's small town of Chablis. In the middle of village sits Église St-Martin with its religious treasury and decorative wrought-iron covering its doors. The Maison du Vin, near the Hostellerie des Clos, today supplies tourist information. Visit Domaine Michel Laroche in Rue Auxerre or the domaine's new venture, the wine bar Laroche. Market Day is Sunday morning in Chablis. The church of Saint-Pierre is pictured above and to the right on this page.

Chablis' economy crashed with the arrival of phylloxera in 1887. Replanting of resistant American rootstocks started in 1897, but even today acreage in cultivation remains only about 12% of Chablis' plantings before the disease arrived in Bourgogne. Most call Chablis a delightful place, and its only 9 miles (15km) east of Auxerre. For hundreds of years, tasters have invoked the sea when talking about Chablis, as well as limestone and even flint. If you've ever bashed two pieces of flint together you may recognize the mineralized smell in French called goût de pierre à fusel. It could be a coincidence that Sancerre and Chablis, despite the fact they are made from different grapes (Sancerre from Sauvignon Blanc), are traditionally considered perfect wines to accompany oysters. On the other hand, romantics, and certain geologists, think it may have something to do with the prehistoric oyster shells which underlie the vineyards. from Jay McInerney on Great Chablis - (4/24/10).

A dozen miles or so, southeast of Auxerre is Noyers, a charming Burgundian town. Noyers la Médiévale is a designated member of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, on the unspoiled banks of the River Serein (meaning serene). The Serein is the main waterway of the Chablis wine district in Burgundy. Noyers remains a town of granite cobblestone streets, colombage houses and winding little walkways filled with flowers and charm. One may visit the ramparts, towers and gates of the old castle, and/or spend some time in the Naïve Art Museum.

The history we read of Noyers tells us that it was a Celtic settlement founded before the Roman conquest, and it became the seat of a prominent family by the 12th century. It was here that Guy de Noyers, the Bishop of Sens, was born. You may remember that he was crowned King Philippe Auguste in 1180. Noyers eventually became property of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy in 1419. Louis de Bourbon, First Prince of Condé became count of Noyers and made the city a place of Huguenot refuge. It was taken by Catherine de Medici in the 16th century. Wine and trading in grain made the town wealthy. According to historic records, there were vines as well as walnut and cherry trees on the surrounding hills. -- Many Pictures

Dijon is the historic capital of the province of Burgundy, and today's capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Bourgogne région. Dijon began as a Roman settlement called Divio, located on the ancient road leading out of Lyon on the way to Mainz. Dijon has several old churches, including Cathedrale St. Bénigne, Notre-Dame, St. Étienne and one on Mont St. Michel by the same name in the Renaissance style. The crypt of the Cathedral dedicated to Saint Benignus, dates from the 10th century. Most of William of Volpiano's church was raised for the current structure in the 13th century, however portions in the eastern end were preserved until the French Revolution. Benignus, the city's patron saint, is said to have introduced Christianity to the area before being martyred.

Old structures such as the half-timbered houses dating from the 12th to the 15th century also remain, particularly in the city-centre. And, of course the city has fine museums and cultural resources. As might guess, Dijon holds an International, Gastronomic Fair every year, one of the ten most important fairs in France. Dijon is famous for its mustard, even though around 90% of all mustard seeds used are imported, mainly from Canada. And then there is the wine. Indeed, the road from Santenay to Dijon, is known worldwide as la route des Grands Crus. Speaking of tours, you guessed it, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel was born here. Cassis, a black currant liqueur, originated here, too.; Getting started,   Washington Post Article,   D'orgue à la cathédrale Saint-Benigne de Dijon (pictures, pictures and more)

North of the Ducal Palace sits l'église Notre-Dame (13th Century AD), a beautiful building in Burgundian-style Gothic structure. The façade has two galleries, between which are traditional grotesque gargoyles. The building has a clock tower (1382) with mechanical figures; originally there was only a single male figure, but in the course of time (most recently in 1881) he has been joined by a woman and two children. In a chapel on the right, is the 11th Century la Vierge Noir, one of the oldest pieces of wood sculpture in France. The church also contains a fine tapestry altar-cloth and a modern tapestry depicting the unsuccessful siege of 1513 and the successful liberation during World War II (1944). Citi-centre Map HERE

Metz -- Belfort -- Reims -- Colmar -- Mulhouse -- le Saint-Suaire -- Lörrach {sister city of Sens} -- Avignon -- Nice -- Narbonne -- Strasbourg -- Troyes -- Sens -- Bourges, Sancerre & Nevers -- Chartres -- Paris -- Mâcon

Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historicæ -- Anglo Saxons -- Reformation from a French-Protestant point of view

Pau -- Bayonne -- Orléans -- Bordeaux -- Nantes -- Poitiers -- Île de Ré, La Roche-sur-Yon, LaRochelle, Rochefort, Saintes & Royan -- Tours -- Caen, Rouen & Rennes

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