Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, an old village and castle

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The old village of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois dominates the surrounding countryside of Burgundy in a picturesque setting. The village, which is part of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, has kept the powerful castle flanked by massive towers. Following our visit, I propose you discover this beautiful site of Burgundy in pictures!

A beautiful stay in Burgundy

As a teenager, our family had stayed in Semur-en-Auxois. During an excursion to Beaune, we passed by Châteauneuf-en-Auxois on the A6 motorway.

I remember very well this magnificent site, this village and its castle perched on a promontory above the Burgundian countryside.

Already sensitive to beautiful stones, I told myself that later – when I was an adult – I would return to explore this site.

And so it is much later that I had the opportunity!

During our last stay in Meursault.

On a beautiful sunny day, I took the car for a little excursion to Châteauneuf, accompanied by Aimée (then 6 years old).

We were not disappointed with the trip.

And it’s finally time to publish a little report of our visit!


Which Chateauneuf are we talking about?

Small warning before continuing…

Let’s not get the wrong Châteauneuf !

Châteauneuf is the name of about thirty communes in France, including the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape between Orange and Avignon (Vaucluse). 

Across the Burgundy region, three localities bear the same name:

  • in Côte d’Or,
  • in Sâone-et-Loire,
  • and in the Nièvre (Châteauneuf-Val-de-Bargis).

It is customary to add -en-Auxois to Châteauneuf in the Côte d’Or, so as not to confuse the commune with another!


The arrival in Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

As it should be, I had planned in advance the road I wanted to take to reach the village.

A book had given me some clues to discover the village from far. After some research on Google Maps, I found the exact location of the photo I wanted to reproduce. And I’m going to let you in on the secret!

On the road to Bouhey

I arrived from the south, on the D18.

In the village of Crugey, you have to turn right in the direction of Bouhey. The small departmental road D18B makes its way through the fields while taking height.

In Bouhey, don’t make a mistake and take the direction of Châteauneuf by a very small tarred road “Sous les roches”. After a passage in the forest, it leads to the fields. And from there, the sight is seizing! One must stop to admire the beautiful countryside of the Country of Auxois.

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, Burgundy © French Moments

The view on Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, Burgundy © French Moments

In the background, the view on the promontory of Châteauneuf is magnificent. Like in a beautiful book!

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois © French Moments

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois © French Moments

Moreover, this road is ideal for Sunday cyclists…

In the Burgundian countryside © French Moments

A road to do by bike! © French Moments

The road joins the D18A, which goes up to Châteauneuf (on the right). All that remains is to find a parking place.

I had planned to park in the parking lot outside the village for visitors… but I changed my mind when I crossed Châteauneuf because there were several free places on the marketplace. It couldn’t be more central!


The castle of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

The castle of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois stands on a rocky promontory at an altitude of 475 meters. The fortress dominates the Vandenesse valley, where the Burgundy canal and the A6 freeway pass.

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois © French Moments

General view of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois © French Moments

At the origin of the castle

In the second half of the 12th century, Jean de Chaudenay created the seigneury of Châteauneuf and then gave it to his youngest son, Jean. He and his successors defended their seigneury above all with their castle, one of the masterpieces of Burgundian military architecture.

Its polygonal walls, built in the 13th century, surround the square keep with five circular towers (75 m long and 35 m wide).

The moat of the castle of Châteauneuf © French Moments

The moat of the castle © French Moments

The poisoner who made Philippe Pot happy

When the 15th-century chatelaine, Catherine de Châteauneuf, was found guilty of having poisoned her husband’s flanks with arsenic, Philippe le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, confiscated her castle in 1457 and gave it to his courtier, Philippe Pot (1428-1493).

It is to Philippe Pot that we owe the transformations of the 15th century. Châteauneuf became a residence of pleasure.

Châteauneuf - le grand logis © French Moments

Châteauneuf – Grand Logis © French Moments

Philippe Pot was the owner of the castle of La Rochepot, a knight of the Golden Fleece and a supporter of the King of France. Louis XI later gave him the title of seneschal of France.

The prestige at the court of the king of France allowed him to have the necessary funds to embellish his castle of Châteauneuf. Nevertheless, of his two living quarters, built in the 15th century, the eastern one is now in ruins. 

The castle’s Gothic chapel, with a contemporary mural depicting Jesus and his apostles, also dates from Philip’s time.

Châteauneuf - The exterior of the Gothic chapel © French Moments

The exterior of the Gothic chapel © French Moments

From the 16th century to today

In 1551, it was Anne de Montmorency who inherited the castle from his mother, Anne, niece of Philippe Pot. He became a constable (i.e. commander of the French king’s armies) and owned large estates in the Ile de France: Ecouen and Chantilly.

Châteauneuf - Renaissance windows © French Moments

Renaissance windows © French Moments

Then, in 1627, Charles de Vienne and his wife Marguerite bought the castle and moved into the keep. Their successors built small apartments on the second floor of the large dwelling.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the castle became the property of the de Vogüe family. It was bequeathed to the French state in 1936, which in 2008 gave it to the Burgundy Region (now Burgundy-Franche-Comté).

Visit the castle

You can visit the castle and discover the chapel and other very interesting rooms.

Châteauneuf - The entrance of the castle seen from the inner courtyard © French Moments

The entrance of the castle seen from the inner courtyard © French Moments

After crossing the moat, you enter through a large fortified gate. The reception and the store are on the right.

Châteauneuf entrance © French Moments

Aimée in front of the entrance to the castle © French Moments

The inner courtyard gives access to the Grand Logis and the other buildings of the castle.

Châteauneuf - The inner courtyard of the castle © French Moments

The inner courtyard of the castle © French Moments

Châteauneuf - The entrance to the Grand Logis © French Moments

The entrance to the Grand Logis © French Moments

Châteauneuf - The inner courtyard of the castle © French Moments

The inner courtyard of the castle © French Moments

The Grand Logis is composed of several rooms and apartments, including the chapel.

The great hall was built in the main house by Philippe Pot at the end of the 15th century. It was used as a ceremonial room for public meetings, receptions and banquets. Philippe Pot’s motto “Tant L Vault” is visible on the fireplace. It refers to the Virgin Mary (Tant Elle Vaut).

The private apartment of a lord of the 1480s-1500s on the second floor of the Grand Logis.

Room with a view of the Auxois from the castle © French Moments

Room with a view of the Auxois from the castle © French Moments

The Vienne room, on the second floor of the square tower, is located in the oldest part of the castle (12th-13th centuries).

Châteauneuf - The exit door of the Grand Logis © French Moments

The exit door of the Grand Logis © French Moments

The southwest tower was an integral part of the 14th-century enclosure and ensured the defence of the curtain walls.


The visit of the village of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

At the top of the hill, the castle defends the attractive village which was once surrounded by walls.

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is intimately linked to the presence of the castle. The village is laid out in a regular plan around the Grande Rue and the rue du Centre whose houses date from the 14th to the 18th century.

The Grande Rue of the village of Châteauneuf © French Moments

The Grande Rue of the village © French Moments

The rue du Centre of Châteauneuf © French Moments

The rue du Centre © French Moments

As for the big fairs of the past, they are evoked here by names such as the Grange aux ânes (Donkey Barn), la place aux bœufs (Ox Square), la place aux chevaux (Horse Square), la place du marché (Market Square), la place aux cochons (Pig Square) et la place aux moutons (Sheep Square).

Alley between the Rue du Centre and the Grande Rue © French Moments

Alley between the Rue du Centre and the Grande Rue © French Moments

The (brief) history of the village

The prosperity of Châteauneuf peaked from the second half of the 15th century to the end of the 16th century.

However, the industrial revolution and its consequences (the rural exodus) strongly affected the development of the village. There were 523 inhabitants in 1806 and only 62 in 1982. In 2018, the population has risen slightly to 82. The development of tourism since the 1960s has helped to restore the village’s standing.

In 1970, the surroundings of Châteauneuf experienced a profound change in the landscape with the opening of the A6 Paris-Lyon highway. The castle, clearly visible from the motorway, reminds passing motorists of the popular image of the Middle Ages, with its defensive towers and walls.

A beautiful rose tree in Châteauneuf © French Moments

A beautiful rose tree in Châteauneuf © French Moments

Today, the village of Châteauneuf is a member of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.

In 2021, the village of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is the candidate of the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region for the television contest Le Village préféré des Français, hosted by Stéphane Bern.

Old bourgeois house in Châteauneuf-en-Auxois © French Moments

Old bourgeois house in Châteauneuf-en-Auxois © French Moments

Some bourgeois houses in Châteauneuf

Some houses have stair towers, others bear on their pediment the sculptures of the coat of arms of those who owned them.

La Maison au Mouton

Dominating the Grande Rue is a more important house, whose old round tower evokes the nobility of its former occupants. It is the “Maison au Mouton” (Sheep House), from the end of the 16th century.

Châteauneuf - The sheep house © French Moments

The sheep house © French Moments

It takes its name from the sculpted relief of the sundial of 1588 which represents a sheep.

Châteauneuf - The sundial of the sheep house © French Moments

The sundial of the sheep house © French Moments

Châteauneuf - The Maison au Mouton © French Moments

The Maison au Mouton © French Moments

La Maison avec Tourelle

The neighbouring house, with its turret, dates from around 1550.

Châteauneuf - The house with the turret from the late Middle Ages © French Moments

The house with the turret from the late Middle Ages © French Moments

It is a typical example of a late medieval bourgeois house. Its architecture is still medieval with a large opening with mullion and crosspieces, moulded lintels and the stair turret projecting from the facade.

The only half-timbered house

Only one half-timbered house remains in the village today.

Châteauneuf - The half-timbered house, Grande-Rue (right) © French Moments

The half-timbered house, Grande-Rue (right) © French Moments

It dates back to the 15th century and still preserves some elements of medieval architecture (lintel on the door, gable side). The half-timberings are on the second floor and represent crosses of Saint Andrew.

The Bichot house

This house, built in 1588, belonged to one of the oldest and most notable families of Châteauneuf, ennobled in 1629. The facade is composed of an eaves wall pierced by a door covered with a semicircular arch and several bays.

Châteauneuf - The Bichot house © French Moments

The Bichot house © French Moments

The coat of arms above the door represents the “talking arms” of the Bichot family: a doe and a bone!

Châteauneuf - The Bichot coat of arms © French Moments

The Bichot coat of arms © French Moments

And pretty flowers on the stone bench at the entrance of the house:

Châteauneuf - Bouquet of spring flowers © French Moments

Bouquet of spring flowers © French Moments

The house on the Place aux Porcs

This stone house located in front of the castle is typical of late medieval townhouses. Modest in size, it has the first floor for commercial purposes and one room per floor.

Châteauneuf - The house on Place aux Porcs © French Moments

The house on Place aux Porcs © French Moments

As for the façade on the street side (the gable façade), it has a beautiful cellar door with three arches, characteristic of storage cellars. On the second floor, the geminated window allowed for the lighting of the residential part of the house.

The Saint-Philippe-et-Saint-Jacques church

The parish church of Châteauneuf, dating from the end of the 15th century, has a massive bell tower, built in 1526, destroyed by lightning in 1779 and rebuilt. 

Châteauneuf - The church of Saint-Philippe and Saint-Jacques © French Moments

The church of Saint-Philippe and Saint-Jacques © French Moments

Inside, the nave is covered with ribbed windows and flanked by two chapels opening onto a third bay: the Saint-Joseph (or Lords) chapel to the north and the Notre-Dame-du-Chêne (formerly Saint-Jean) chapel to the south.

Châteauneuf - The nave of the church © French Moments

The nave of the church © French Moments

The pulpit, in the Burgundian style, dates from 1538. Its Renaissance decoration includes six panels representing prophets from the Bible.

Châteauneuf - The pulpit from 1538 © French Moments

The pulpit from 1538 © French Moments

The statues of the church

The church is known for the richness and splendour of its statuary. 

Châteauneuf - The Notre-Dame-du-Chêne chapel and its statues © French Moments

The Notre-Dame-du-Chêne chapel and its statues © French Moments

A statue of the Virgin and Child or the Virgin and Bird dates back to the middle of the 14th century.

Châteauneuf - Statue of the Virgin and Child © French Moments

Statue of the Virgin and Child © French Moments

Previously coloured, the statue is made of Burgundy limestone. Its style is typically Burgundian by the way Mary holds her child on her hip.

The child is holding a bird in her hand that is biting her finger. This bird could be a finch, which is the symbol of the Passion. This may explain why the child is caressing the gentle face of his Mother. 

Other statues include a magnificent 15th century St. John the Baptist and a life-size 16th-century representation of St. Philip and St. James, patron saints of the church.

Châteauneuf - Statue of St. John the Baptist (15th century) © French Moments

Statue of St. John the Baptist (15th century) © French Moments

The north gate

This fortified gate of the Porte Nord (North Gate) dates back to 1582 and is one of the rare remains of the village’s fortifications.

Châteauneuf - The north gate © French Moments

The north gate © French Moments

It bore the coat of arms and the motto of the Vienne family, then owner of the village. During the Revolution, it was removed and replaced by the inscription “Citoyens”.

Moreover, Châteauneuf took the name of Mont-Franc between 1792 and 1795.


The panorama of La Croix de Mission

From the viewpoint of “La Croix de Mission”, a superb panorama of the Vandenesse valley and the surrounding countryside.

The panorama from the viewpoint of the Croix de Moisson © French Moments

The panorama from the viewpoint of the Croix de Moisson © French Moments

One can see the long ribbon of the A6 motorway and, in the background, the mountains of Morvan.

The view of the A6 and the Morvan from the viewpoint of La Croix de Mission © French Moments

The view of the A6 and the Morvan from the viewpoint of La Croix de Mission © French Moments


What to discover around Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

Here are some ideas for excursions in Burgundy starting from Châteauneuf :

The port of Vandenesse

2.5 km to the west

It is pleasant to stroll along the marina of Vandenesse-en-Auxois.

The marina of Vandenesse-en-Auxois with a view on Châteauneuf © French Moments

The marina of Vandenesse-en-Auxois with a view on Châteauneuf © French Moments

In the village, the parish church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption dates back to the 12th century.

In the direction of Commarin, the lake of Panthier was created for the needs of the Burgundy canal in 1836. Today, it hosts a leisure centre, a campground and a sailing club.

Lake Panthier (view from Châteauneuf) © French Moments

Lake Panthier (view from Châteauneuf) © French Moments

A path goes around it in an easy walk.

The Burgundy canal

2,5 km to the northwest

Between Vandenesse-en-Auxois and the bridge of the A6 motorway, the Burgundy Canal (Canal de Bourgogne) offers splendid views of the site of Châteauneuf.

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, Burgundy © French Moments

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois from the Burgundy canal © French Moments

We discover the charming little houses of the lock keepers, some of which are abundantly decorated with flowers.

Canal de Bourgogne © French Moments

Aimée tries to cross a lock at the Canal de Bourgogne © French Moments

The castle of Commarin

5 km to the north-east

This neo-classical style castle, rebuilt in large part from 1702 to 1713, has kept the moat and the two round towers of the 14th-century feudal castle.

The Château de Commarin © Christophe.Finot - license [CC BY-SA 2.5] from Wikimedia Commons

The Château de Commarin © Christophe.Finot – license [CC BY-SA 2.5] from Wikimedia Commons

The castle of Commarin can be visited and one can discover inside a unique collection of heraldic and alchemical tapestries of the 16th century, as well as interior decorations and furniture of the 17th and 18th centuries. 

Semur-en-Auxois

50 km to the north

The small capital of the Auxois region is set up in a very picturesque site. The houses are hung on a cliff of pink granite dominating the ravine at the bottom of which flows the Armançon.

Semur-en-Auxois © Michel FOUCHER - licence [CC BY-SA 4

Semur-en-Auxois © Michel FOUCHER – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The old historical centre is dominated by the big towers of the keep and the tapered spire of the collegiate church of Notre Dame. Great view from the Pinard bridge!
Semur-en-Auxois © Michel FOUCHER - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Semur-en-Auxois © Michel FOUCHER – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Dijon

40 km to the east

The former capital of the dukes of Burgundy is a famous city of art.

The view from the tower of Philip the Good, Dijon © French Moments

The view from the tower of Philip the Good, Dijon © French Moments

Its historical centre is full of beautiful monuments: private mansions with glazed tiles, beautiful gothic churches, old half-timbered houses, without forgetting the ducal palace which borders the Liberation square.

Fine half-timbered houses in Rue Amiral Roussin, Dijon © French Moments

Fine half-timbered houses in Rue Amiral Roussin, Dijon © French Moments

The chevet of Dijon cathedral © French Moments

The chevet of Dijon cathedral © French Moments

Place F. Rude, Dijon © French Moments

Place F. Rude, Dijon © French Moments

And, since we are in Burgundy, Dijon’s gastronomy is not to be outdone!

Œufs en meurette, Café de l'Industrie (Dijon) © French Moments

Eggs in meurette, Café de l’Industrie (Dijon) © French Moments

Restaurant L'Essentiel, Dijon © French Moments

Restaurant L’Essentiel, Dijon © French Moments

Fallot moutarderie store © French Moments

Fallot moutarderie store © French Moments

Beaune

35 km to the southeast

The prestigious city of Burgundy wine is also a city of art and history, famous for the court of honour of its Hôtel-Dieu (the Hospices de Beaune).

Hospices de Beaune © French Moments

The courtyard of the Hospices de Beaune © French Moments

Beaune is also a city of bourgeois houses, the magnificent Notre-Dame church, museums, the walk along the ramparts…

Beaune © French Moments

In the streets of old Beaune © French Moments

Beaune © French Moments

The roofs of Beaune © French Moments


Where to stay in the area?

Châteauneuf is part of the Pays d’Auxois, a rather large rural area in the Côte d’Or, northwest of Dijon. You will find several ideas for accommodation in the Pouilly-en-Auxois area by clicking here. Or, let yourself be guided by the map below:


Booking.com


Find out more about Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

Reference sites

 

A Pin for Pinterest

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois for Pinterest © French Moments

Have you visited rural Burgundy? If so, what are your favourite villages? Tell me all about it in the comments below 🙂


 
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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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