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Semur-en-Auxois

 

Semur-en-Auxois is a French commune with 4139 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017) in the Côte-d’Or department. Until his death under the guillotine in 1793, the castle of his birthplace was owned by Louis Marie Florent de Lomont d'Haraucourt, duc du Châtelet.

 

Geography

Located to the west of the Côte-d'Or, in the heart of Burgundy, emerging from a loop of the Armançon, Semur-en-Auxois stands on a plateau of pink granite. The city is located in the largest of the four valleys forming the Pays d'Auxois (region), at the crossroads of the foothills of the Morvan, the plains of Châtillonnais and the outskirts of the Autunois. Located on the D 980 departmental road between Montbard and Saulieu, Semur-en-Auxois is an exit from the A6 motorway.

 

Landmarks

The Notre-Dame Collegiate Church

The former Notre-Dame collegiate church in Semur-en-Auxois (Côte-d’Or department) is one of the lesser-known masterpieces of Gothic architecture in Burgundy.

The monastery was founded in 1060 or 1065 by Duke Robert I of Burgundy. The increasing pilgrimage (Semur was also a station on a branch route of the Way of St. James) made a new building necessary, which was started in 1225. In the 14th century the west facade with vestibule and the crossing tower were built. From 1844 a thorough restoration was carried out by Viollet-le-Duc.

The building is a three-aisled basilica with a double-tower facade, a transept with an octagonal crossing tower and a five-aisled choir with a gallery and radial chapels. Most comparable to the Cathedral of Auxerre and Notre-Dame de Dijon, the collegiate church of Semur represents the classic Gothic architectural style of Burgundy on a smaller scale. The choir and transept are divided into three floors. The double-shell or “diaphane” wall, which is particularly pronounced in Burgundy, can be seen here in the triforium and in the upper aisle with a walkway. In the choir, the arcades are supported by massive round pillars with bud capitals, above the fighters the services sit on cube consoles, just like in the nave of Dijon. Typically Burgundy are the services in the upper storey area, which are at staggered heights. The main nave was also originally three-story, the triforium was removed during the renovation in the 14th century. Otherwise, the shapes of the 13th century, the cantoned round pillars, the walkway and the immaculate lancet windows characterize the building. Characteristic for Semur is the ratio of height and width in the nave and choir, which gives the room a steep slenderness. This impression is underlined by the uninterrupted service in the nave up to the vaults (see Clamecy).

The church had a three-portal system with an extensive program of figures, which, however, was completely destroyed. The Madonna standing on the Trumeau today was subsequently placed here. Late Gothic stone figures of the evangelists have been preserved above the vestibule. At the crossing tower you can see figures with amphorae, which symbolize the rivers of Paradise. The delightful side portal, which was formerly protected by a two-storey vestibule, shows the story of the Apostle Thomas in the tympanum with the following scenes: The disbelief of Thomas. The sea voyage to India. The feast at which the cook slaps Thomas, whereupon the cook's hand falls off. Thomas distributes the money he received from the king for building the palace to the poor. The king puts him in jail. The king is converted when Thomas explains to him that he has acquired a palace in heaven through the gifts to the poor. Representations of the monthly work appear in the archivolts.

The church has rich furnishings from the 15th to 17th centuries with glass windows, stone sculptures, wood and metal work. Particularly noteworthy is an entombment group from the end of the 15th century, transferred from the Carmelite Convent in 1791, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful of its kind in Burgundy and is stylistically close to Pierre Antoine de Moiturier (cf. the tomb of Johann Ohnefurcht from the Chartreuse de Champmol ).

 

The Porte Sauvigny, a former city gate
The four remaining round towers of the former citadel fortifications
The Pont Joly, a bridge with a picturesque view of the city