In 1840-1841, a needle barrier (200 m) was built on the Saône in Auxonne. The barrier allows the regulation of the flow on the river in order to maintain navigation nearly all the year. However, these days the needle barriers are obsolete and not easy to handle; ten of them were recently replaced on the Saône with modern valve barriers. The Auxonne...more
The city of Auxonne (8,000 inhabitants; 4,165 hectares, including the forest of Crochères, 1,412 hectares) is the main city of the Val de Saône (the upper valley of river Saône, upstream from its confluency with river Doubs). Auxonne is located 40 km south-west of Dijon, on the border of Burgundy and Franche-Comté. It was a former border town...more
This attractive portal is dated from 1503 and was (still is actually) the eastern gate of the town , leading in the direction of Dole though today's route doesn't take you through it. The side facing the centre looks very nice, the other side is more simple. There's also a small park beside the gate.more
The castle is found in the south-east of the town and is one of the castles that was build under Louis XI. It dates from the late 15th century. The inner court had not been interesting in my view, but the tower Notre Dame (Tour Notre Dame) looks impressing. It has a diameter of 29 meters and is 22 meters high. Inside you'll find the Musée Bonaparte...more
The church Notre Dame is situated in the centre of the town. The oldest part was build in the 12th century, the other parts are from the 13th and 14th cenutry. It looks pretty interesting, having two towers, that are completly different, with the western one not being finished.more
Of course you it is possible to moor in Auxonne. There are two places, either before or after the bridge. We found a nice place downstream the bridge near the former forticiation. It only was a big complicated to leave and enter the boat, it's the first time we used the plank as it was too high. You are quickly in the centre of the town, and if you follow the main street with its many shops you'll reach a Casino supermarket, a bit after the eastern gate (Port Comté).
After the death of Charles le Téméraire, the final Duke of Burgundy, in 1477, the then King of France Louis XI annexed Burgundy and Franche-Comté and built a fortress in Auxonne.
In 1493, Charles VIII retroceded Franche-Comté to Maximilian of Austria, who had married Charles le Téméraire's daughter, Mary of Burgundy. Auxonne was therefore once again a border city between France and Germany. The fortress of Auxonne was increased by Louis XII and François I.
Louis XIV asked Vauban, arguably the world's most famous military architect, to revamp the fortifications of Auxonne, which remained a bastion until the conquest of Franche-Comté and the Treaty of Nijmegen, signed in 1678.
From 1689 to 1693 Vauban built an artillery arsenal, which is the only one in France to have been preserved in its original structure until now. The arsenal was mostly dedicated to the production of gun carriages and provided resupply for the troops fighting in Germany and Italy from the 18th century to the First Empire.
The Artillery College of Auxonne was founded in 1757. From 1759 to 1763, architect Caristie built three barracks with pink stone from neighbouring Jura.
On 15 June 1788, a young Second Lieutnant from the Regiment of La Fère was sent to the Auxonne College. His name was Napoléon Bonaparte. He stayed there until September 1789, went back to Corsica for a long leave, and returned to Auxonne from 11 February to June 1791 with his brother Louis.
Bonaparte was poor, nervous and had a strong Italian accent; he was rejected by the high society of Auxonne because of his weird, utopical political views. Accordingly, he spent most of his time in his room, studying history, geography, literature and mathematics. The perceptive Professor of Mathematics Jean-Louis Lombard (1723-1794) encouraged him and often told him "You'll go far!". Lombard wrote treaties of ballistics, which dramatically improved the precision, accuracy (and deadly effects) of artillery.
During his idle time, Bonaparte wrote a few historical short novels and more serious treaties (Dissertation sur l'Autorité Royale, 1788). In 1791, he had published in Dole (there was no printer in Auxonne) 100 copies of the satirical pamphlet Lettre à Buttafoco, in which he ridiculed the Royalist opponents to the independence of Corsica.
Fondest memory: Bonaparte also walked a lot in the countryside, which he found more pleasant and less boring than the small garrison town. All along his life, Bonaparte acknowledged the quality of the College of Auxonne and the perceptivity of Lombard "who knew how to teach young people the wonderful subtleties of mathematics". After the coup and the proclamation of the Consulate, one of the first Decrees signed by the Premier Consul maintained the Arsenal and the Artillery College, which were about to be suppressed by the Directoire.
The barracks were renamed Caserne Napoléon in 1854, then Caserne Chambure in 1887, and eventually Quartier Bonaparte in 1931. They house today the 511th Service Corps and First Regiment of Burgundy. The Chief of the Corps bears the title of Governor of the Town of Auxonne.
I find some delight in pondering where he may have walked during his time here. Did I walk in the footsteps of Napoleon as I did in Erfurt? I may never know but it was inspirational thinking about it.