Visit Semur-en-Auxois (Burgundy, France)
A legend tells that Hercules built Semur after returning from Spain. I'm afraid I can't confirm whether this is true! However it did play an important role in the Burgundian strategy during the Hundred Years War (at which time the Dukes of Burgundy were opposed to the French throne).
The town is one of the most popular attractions of the region - not surprising for it is a pretty town, built on a pink granite rocky outcrop and watched over by the stout round towers of the castle.
Downside? Well, the highlight of a visit is undoubtedly the first view as you approach the town, and see the towers poised high above the river. Close-up the town can perhaps only be an anti-climax - the towers are, well, just towers.
But I don't want to discourage you - the town is still very attractive!
Semur-en-Auxois has a wealth of cobbled streets lined with ancient houses, shops and cafes and unusual features to explore and enjoy. The architecture is a mixture of half-timbered properties and more 'recent' houses with characterful faded shutters and wrought iron balconies.
Passing through the clock-gate at the top of the town you find a small open square with several restaurants and shops to explore.
Other particular sights in the town include:
- the four towers, all that remains of Semur's castle (don't miss the traditional wooden 'chessboard' roof of the Renaissance Tower).
- the Pont Joly across the River,
- the Notre Dame church - this 13th century church is perhaps best described as 'exuberant gothic', and stands on the main square in the town, the Place Notre-Dame. There is a small park behind the church, perhaps the best place to see it from.
Another pleasurable pastime is to walk around the ramparts of Semur-en-Auxois.
Be sure to also walk down to the river and see the views from the bridge - both up to the town, and either way along the picturesque river valley itself.
You can follow the river a little way to a 19th century lavoir (washhouse), although access to the river itself is unfortunately quite limited for part of the way, being behind houses.
If you visit during the summer you can take the little tourist 'train' guided-tour of Semur-en-Auxois.
There is also a small museum celebrating the long history of the town, housed in the 17th century Convent of the Jacobins.
Two of our favourite places in Burgundy are within easy reach of Semur-en-Auxois. The first is the very peaceful Fontenay Abbey, in a lovely wooded valley north of the town, and the second is the charming medieval village at Flavigny a few kilometres to the east.
Slightly further but well worth the trip is the historical town of Noyers-sur-Serein, about 40 kilometres north-west of of Semur-en-Auxois.
Photos of Semur-en-Auxois
Click any picture to start the gallery
Address: Semur-en-Auxois, Montbard, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, 21140 || GPS: latitude 47.491, longitude 4.3336
Map of Semur-en-Auxois & places nearby
Highlights close by
Fontenay Abbey 15km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Semur-en-Auxois, France
- Potager du château de Lantilly - remarkable garden (7km)
- Jardin du moulin de Athie - remarkable garden (10km)
- Alesia - grand site of france (13km)
- Abbaye de Fontenay (Montbard) - religious monument (15km)
- Flavigny - most beautiful village (15km)
- Bussy-Rabutin Chateau - national monument (16km)
- Abbaye de Fontenay - remarkable garden (17km)
- Fontenay Abbey - heritage site (17km)
- Basilique de Saint Andoche (Saulieu) - religious monument (25km)
- Parc de Saint-Léger - remarkable garden (28km)
The French version of this page is at Semur-en-Auxois (Francais)