Visit Tonnerre (Burgundy, France)
Tonnerre is a town in Burgundy to the east of Auxerre. A pleasant town, there are a couple of main highlights that are well worth seeing, although I got the impression that Tonnerre does not do as much as it could to highlight the places of interest.
Parking was difficult, parts of the town are less well maintained, and the Tonnerre Tourist Office chooses to not put leaflets out on display for browsing - rather you have to go to the counter and request the one you want. Notwithstanding these challenges a visit is recommended!
The two most important monuments in Tonnerre are the medieval hospital and the fosse dionne:
The medieval hospital complex (the Hotel-Dieu) was constructed at the end of the 13th century and at that time was one of the largest hospitals in France. Indeed the main building is very substantial even by today's standards!
The impressive interior of the complex includes a museum and has been furnished as a typical hospital interior of the epoch with period recreations. Outside there is a small park area running the length of the complex.
There is also a grand 19th century addition adjacent to the main building, and the Tonnerre Tourist Office is in the entrance to the Hotel-Dieu.
The Fosse Dionne is a natural water source producing 200 litres of water per second.
The source was developed as a circular lavoir in the first half of the 18th century and has a deep pool of a green-blue colour you would expect to find in a Yellowstone pool!
Small yet perfectly formed, it is a little hidden away but a visit is obligatory while in Tonnerre. It is a very beautiful structure and really quite unmissable - ironically its beauty is perhaps increased by the less than lovely side streets that approach it.
Above the Fosse Dionne there is a track that runs up the hill to the church that stands above, and from where there are views across the town and surrounding countryside. The track follows part of a path that dates back 2000 years when the Romans had a settlement on the rock above the fosse, and used it as a water source.
Other sites in Tonnerre
In the centre of Tonnerre you can see the imposing Church of Saint-Pierre, mostly dating from around the 16th century and with a baroque facade. The church is not open to the public very often, only the afternoons of the first wednesday of each month, so we couldn't go inside.
The town is associated with the Chevalier d'Eon, a curious character who acted as spy for the King Louis XV, a soldier, and a teacher to the Russian nobility, and was a colourful personage who passed much of his life mixing in noble circles and passing himself off as a lady. His birthplace and his later home in Tonnerre can both be seen.
Tonnerre is on the river and there are attractive views of the houses along the riverside.
Markets are held in Tonnerre on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the latter being held in the main market hall on Rue Francois Mitterrand.
Photos of Tonnerre
Click any picture to start the gallery
Address: Tonnerre, Avallon, Yonne, Burgundy, 89700 || GPS: latitude 47.855, longitude 3.9741
Map of Tonnerre & places nearby
Highlights close by
Tanlay castle 9km
Ancy-le-Franc castle 17km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Tonnerre, France
- Noyers-sur-Serein - most beautiful village (18km)
- Abbaye de Pontigny (Pontigny) - religious monument (20km)
- Jardin du prieuré - remarkable garden (26km)
- Eglise de Saint Martial (Seignelay) - religious monument (28km)
- Auxerre - secteur sauvegarde (31km)
- Abbaye de Fontenay (Montbard) - religious monument (37km)
- Jardin du moulin de Athie - remarkable garden (38km)
- Neuville-sur-Seine - ville fleurie 4* (39km)
- Fontenay Abbey - heritage site (39km)
- Abbaye de Fontenay - remarkable garden (39km)
Market days in Tonnerre: Regular market(s) are held in Tonnerre each Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Tonnerre (Francais)