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Chalon sur Saône

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Chalon is in the wine growing area, the Côte Chalonnaise, which lies between the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune in the north and the Mâconnais in the south. Famous wines such as Mercurey, Givry, Montagny and Rully come from here. Visit the Maison des Vins de la Côte Chalonnaise at 2 Promenade Ste-Marie to sample these fine wines.

This is a lively town on the River Saône with a market three times a week at the Place St-Vincent. The cathedral square has a café society with Le Moulin à Cafe and speciality shops such as Légendes Gourmandes. There are fine half-timbered houses overlooking the Place; Rue de Châtelet and Grande Rue are worth visiting also to see 17th and 14th century facades. The cathedral itself is a good example of Romanesque architecture.

If you are interested in photography, Joseph Nicéphore-Niépce who invented the first photograph was born in Chalon in 1765. A museum dedicated to him is housed in the Hôtel des Messageries on the banks of the Saône. Apart from cameras, it has a fine photographic collection on display tracing the history of photography. Along the Quai, the Atelier St-Jean there is an art gallery with exhibitions by prominent artists.

River Saone at Chalon sur SaoneThe bakery, La Meulière, in Rue Général Leclerc is a particular favourite for whole cereal breads, biscuits, jams and cheesy wafers for apéros.

A great way to enjoy the river at a leisurely pace is to take the bateau-mouche, La Delta, on a sightseeing tour. Trips range from an excursion cruise of an hour and a half for 12 euros up to a dinner cruise.


Though the site (ancient Cabillonum) was a capital of the Aedui and objects of La Tène culture have been retrieved from the bed of the river here, the first mention of Cavillonum is found in Caesar's Gallic Wars (VII, chs. 42 and 90). The Roman city already served as a river port and hub of road communications, of the Via Agrippa and side routes. In 354 AD the Roman Emperor, Constantius II stationed the Roman 7th Army in Chalon (then called Cabyllona) for an invasion against the brother kings, Gundomad and Vadomar of the Alamanni. However, not having received supplies, the Roman troops revolted, and were pacified by the grand chamberlain Eusebius with money. In Late Antiquity the city had dwindled so much that a wall round it encircled fifteen hectares.

Saint Marcellus of Chalons (Saint Marcel) is said to have been martyred here in 179 AD; his cult was encouraged by Guntram, king of Burgundy from 561 to 592, who died at Chalon. The bishopric of Chalon-sur-Saône, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lyon, was established here in the same century, and a Church Council was held here from 644–655. The see was merged into the diocese of Autun shortly after the French Revolution.

Chalon in the 19th century is best known as the birthplace of photography. Its most famous resident, Nicéphore Niépce also has a lycée (secondary school) named after him. There is a museum which contains some early photography relics, located on the Quai des Messageries in the town, containing more than two million photographs and many old artefacts such as cameras and other equipment for old and modern photography. Also on display are Niépce's 1807 Pyréolophore which is probably the world's first internal combustion engine, plus his 1818 implementation of a dandy horse, for which he coined the word vélocipède.

Another famous resident is Dominique Vivant Denon (1747–1825) who was involved in the creation of the Louvre museum, converting the former royal palace into a museum after the French Revolution.

Places of Interest

St. Vincent's Cathedral on the Place Saint-Vincent, which has some elements dating from the eighth century and a neo-gothic nineteenth century façade.

Chalon Cathedral. This city square also has a number of cafés and a busy market on Fridays and Sundays.

The Museum de Denon houses Archaeological collections and fine art collections: flint bay leaves. Bronze vases, funerary stelae and sculptures from the Gallo-Roman period. Fine Arts Collections: Dutch, Flemish and Italian paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, French painting from the 19th century. Graphics by Dominique Vivant-Denon. Wood engraved.

House Nicéphore Niépce is the home of the inventor of the photgraph Nicéphore Niépce

The Memorial Musuem of the Fighter perpetuates the memory of the combatant, especially French. It works for the preservation of national heritage and memory. Collections of weapons, uniforms, flags, newspapers, engravings, testimonials; Important library.

Geo-botanical garden - Georges Nouelle Park presents various environments: the basin decorated with its waterfalls, the bressan marsh and several massifs inspired by their natural environment as the Côte Chalonnaise and its vineyard, Morvan, Provence and its banana trees, rockeries with their typical plants. All in a landscaped 1.3 ha.

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The bustling market at Chalon-sur-Saône Boats cruising past Chalon-sur-Saône
The busy square at Chalon-sur-Saône Chalon-sur-Saône at night
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