Tonnerre travel guide

Photo of Tonnerre

Visit Tonnerre (Burgundy-Franche-Comté, France)

Photo Gallery Book hotels, flights, car hire

Tonnerre is a town to the east of Auxerre., in the Burgundy region. It is a pleasant town with a couple of main highlights that are well worth seeing.

Explore Tonnerre

France This Way review: 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!

riverside view

The two most important monuments in Tonnerre are the medieval hospital and the fosse dionne:

Hotel Dieu

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 main hall is 90 metres long by 20 metres wide!

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.


Fosse Dionne

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, not a Burgundy town centre!

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.

Fosse Dionne in Tonnerre

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 church is on a raised hill so there are views across the roofs of Tonnerre from the church.

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 Armançon 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.

Attractions nearby

There are two interesting castles within easy reach of Tonnerre: Tanlay Castle and Ancy-le-Franc Castle.

You can also go wine-tasting in the famous vineyards at Chablis and explore the historic centre of the pretty village of Noyers-sur-Serein.

You can find more travel ideas in the Yonne guide and the Burgundy guide.

See also: 

Photos of Tonnerre

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • tonnerre-1
  • tonnerre-2
  • tonnerre-3
  • tonnerre-4
  • tonnerre-5
  • tonnerre-6
  • tonnerre-7
  • tonnerre-8

Arrange a visit to Tonnerre

Book hotels, car hire and flights

Organise your visit using the options shown...

Hotels in Tonnerre best prices


Reserve excursions

Map of Tonnerre and places nearby


Visit near Tonnerre with France This Way reviews

Chateau de Tanlay

Chateau de Tanlay

The frescoes and interior decoration are among the highlights of a visit to the moated Tanlay castle

Chateau de Tanlay guide


Best known for the very famous wines of the same name, Chablis is also a pleasant village to explore with plenty of opportunities for wine-tasting

Chablis guide
Chateau d'Ancy-le-Franc

Chateau d'Ancy-le-Franc

The 15th century castle at Ancy-le-Franc was one of the very first renaissance style castles to be built in France

Chateau d'Ancy-le-Franc guide


The half-timbered houses and riverside setting make Noyers-sur-Serein one of our favourite small towns in this region

Noyers-sur-Serein guide


The abbey at Pontigny is one of the best known and substantial Cistercian abbeys in France

Pontigny guide


With its cathedral and churches, and extensive historic centre with half-timbered houses and an imposing belltower Auxerre is a very interesting town to visit

Auxerre guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Yonne

Address: Tonnerre, Avallon, Burgundy, 89700, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 47.855, longitude 3.9741

Plan your visit to Tonnerre, Yonne

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Noyers-sur-Serein: most beautiful village (18 km)
  • Abbaye de Pontigny (Pontigny): religious monument (20 km)
  • Jardin du prieuré: remarkable garden (26 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Martial (Seignelay): religious monument (28 km)
  • Auxerre: secteur sauvegarde (31 km)
  • Abbaye de Fontenay (Montbard): religious monument (37 km)
  • Jardin du moulin de Athie: remarkable garden (38 km)
  • Neuville-sur-Seine: ville fleurie 4* (39 km)
  • Fontenay Abbey: heritage site (39 km)
  • Abbaye de Fontenay: remarkable garden (39 km)
  • Asquins église St Jacques (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (45 km)
  • Chatillon-sur-Seine: recommended detour (45 km)

Market days in Tonnerre, France

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)