The foucs of our last side trip in France was a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Abbaye de Fontenay, founded by Saint Bernard in 1118. We were lucky that this trip also also included short stops in the villages of Posanges, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, and Semur-en-Auxois.
Our stop in Posanges was extremely brief, but memorable. The village is home to a castle that truly fits the bill (I mean, hello . . . it’s got a moat!). The castle was built in the 1440s. Sadly, the castle is privately owned and does not allow passersby inside. However, we were happy to have the chance to observe the exterior.
I had been eagerly anticipating our next stop in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain because Chocolat was filmed there (one of my favorites).
We were part of a tour on a tight schedule, so I needed to suck up the ambiance in less than an hour. The pictures below at least hint at the village’s quaint charm and the tastiness of the famous factory that makes Flavigny candies.
L’Abbaye de Fontenay
We were grateful for a longer stop and L’Abbaye de Fontenay, a sprawling historic site that was the home of monks for over five centuries. It was built in a Romanesque style that differed from the Gothic cathedrals of Dijon—and reflected the austere lives of the abby’s residents.
However, simplicity and piousness did not mean stagnance. The Cistercian monks were innovators. The forge at the abby is one of the oldest metallurgical plants in Europe. The model and video near the end of the series of pictures below show how the monks used hydrolics to operate their facility.
Other pictures below show the beauty of the buildings and grounds, including the gardens. (The gardens are fomal decorative gardens today, but their purpose used to be to grow food.)
Our final stop on this day was the pictureqsue village of Semur-en-Auxois to take in the scenery and enjoy a patisserie. When we arrived, we learned that the village recently had a medieval festival honoring the town’s history; the decorative flags left from the festivities only added to the character of the village.
The stops on this day were an excellent way to go back in time while seeing how France honors its past by seamlessly melding the old (historic buildings) with the new (modern facilities, like the candy factory in Flavigny).