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Drive down the hill into Semur-en-Auxois on a fine day and more often than not you will see artists sketching the citadel. For this is a very picturesque town with attractive houses, antique ironmongery on the walls and doors and narrow streets. By day, the magnificent fortress looks onto the pretty valley of the River Armançon with its weeping willows and weirs. By night, the gigantic towers and ramparts are softly illuminated to create a spectacle all of their own.
Go over the Pont Joly, past the Tour de l’Orle-d’Or with its seemingly vulnerable fractured side, and up the cobbled street into town. Wander through the Porte Guillier, a medieval gateway, and enjoy the street cafes and shops along the pedestrian street. The Charcuterie Notre-Dame on the square has mouth watering delicatessen, and the restaurant-pizzeria L’Entr’act just down from the church has a lively atmosphere.
The town is built on a pink granite spur and the rampart walk, while hilly to say the least, is charming. You will pass former mills and tanneries and at the bottom of the valley by the Pont des Minimes, you will see the ancient Convent Minimes, now a privately owned language school. Here you can brush up your French at La Petite Classe over a weekend or on a one to three week course.
The end of May, beginning of June is the time for celebration in Semur-en-Auxois with the Course de la Bague, the oldest horse race in France dating back to 1639, with a great street market on the 31st of the month each year and a Medieval festival. See What's On for the dates.
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