"PETITE CITE COMTOISE DE CARACTERE"
CLASSIFIED AS ONE OF THE PRETTIEST VILLAGES OF FRANCE
The site of Chateau-Chalon is impressive, on top of the first Jura plateau, at the entrance to the blind valley (reculee) of Baume-les-Messieurs, itself famous for its abbey and caves. From the many view points and belvederes on top of the cliffs, you can look out over the countryside and see hillsides covered in vines and rich pastures in the valleys. On the high plateau, the limestone shows through the surface in places and is used to make low walls and shepherd's shelters.
CHATEAU-CHALON, AROUND THE "LADIES" ABBEY
The former abbey enclave has been the strongest element of the village, situated behind a 16th century porch, with the cliff directly below. The home of the last abbess, Madame de Stain, can still be seen surrounded by houses of the same type. Near the church of Saint-Pierre is the house of the confessor, with it's dovecote, known as the "Maison du Froid Pignon" (Cold Gable House) and the home of the administrator. The abbey church of Notre-Dame is now gone. Despite the damage caused by the French Revolution, including the loss of a large part of the archives, the existence of the small abbey is definitely mentioned in 869. Legend continues to attribute its founding to the nobleman Norbert and his wife Eusebia between 662 and 673. Out hunting one winters day on the plateau, blinded by fog, Norbert's horse bolted. Believing that his last moments had arrived, he was surprised to feel the horse slow and then stop at the top of what he discovered to be a high precipice. Convinced that this was a miracle, he decided to build an abbey on the very spot.
The Benedictine abbey was secularized in the 13th century and the canonesses had to prove that they had noble blood for four generations to be admitted. The abbey accommodated up to 25 ladies, and in 1698 was attached to St Claude. The richness of the abbey inspired a quality of architecture elsewhere in Chateau-Chalon, for example the house of Domaine Berthet-Bondet, which dates from the 16th century.
Dependant on the abbey, the parish church of Saint Pierre is a good representation of the different architectural styles of Franche Comte from the 12th to the 16th century. According to the Abbot Pierre Lacroix, the edifice "although it has it's enigmas (including the absence of a transept)..it imposes itself by it's architecture without concessions. The awkward techniques do not detract from the atmosphere created by the marriage of the romanesque and the gothic." Restored, fronted by a small courtyard in place of the former cemetery, the church is covered in quarry tiles (laves), surmounted by a 12th century bell tower and flanked by a turret with a spiral staircase. The interior layout is there for you to discover, together with a treasury of mediaeval sacred objects.
A VILLAGE PROTECTED BETWEEN THE ABBEY ENCLAVE AND THE CASTLE
The village was surrounded by ancient fortifications, today lost amongst the vegetation. Their layout started from the old castle around to the edge of the promontory, where there were four gates, now gone.
The remains of the keep, called incorrectly Charlemagne's Tower or Charles the Bald's Tower (Tour de Charlemagne or de Charles-le-Chauve) correspond to one of the four corner turrets built in the characteristic 13th century square fashion. Despite walls of 2 metres thick, a 15 metre wide moat, and the presence of a governor and troops, the ancient fortress fell to the artillery of Henri IV in 1595.
The village was at the centre of the "Chastel Charlon" of the Counts of Burgundy and accorded it's charter. In around 1600 there were nearly 700 inhabitants, including nobles and townspeople, and they enjoyed a splendid life, with fairs and markets.
The mediaeval atmosphere of the village is visible in the winding streets and cobbled lanes, in the height of the houses, the general harmony of colours, ochre and grey blending with the surrounding countryside. The architecture dates from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The winemakers houses predominate, constructed over vaulted cellars which are accessed from street level, facades and benches in stone, curved or decorated doors, grey or pink roofs in quarry tiles (laves) or flat tiles. Crosses and shrines are dotted about the lanes and the belvederes.
For the past thirty years, with a committed population of some 160 inhabitants, the village community has worked hard to improve this charming village and to make it more attractive to residents and visitors alike, led by the Association les Amis de Chateau-Chalon.
THINGS TO DO, PLACES TO STAY, PLACES TO EAT
BED & BREAKFAST, SELF CATTERING ACCOMODATION
Contact the Tourist office 39210 VOITEUR
Tél. : (33).03.84.44.62.47 / Fax. : (33).03.84.44.64.86
F-39210 CHÂTEAU CHALON . PHONE +(33) 03.84.44.60.48 . FAX +(33) 03.84.44.61.13 . email@example.com