Les Remparts de Beaune

City Walls in Beaune

Remparts De Beaune
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Arnaud 25

During the tumultuous year of 259, the relative security behind the limes Germanicus barrier was shattered by invasions from the Alamanni and the Franks. Easily breaching this fortified line, these groups swiftly overran Gaul from the east, and then advanced southward to Spain. By 355, the relentless incursions of these “barbarians” had wreaked widespread destruction, compelling the construction of new fortifications to safeguard the inhabitants.

This led to the creation of Beaune’s initial fortifications, known as the Castrum de Beaune. These formidable ramparts were designed to enclose and protect the town with walls that were 5 meters thick and 10 meters high. The structure included around a dozen defensive towers and several gates that controlled access into and out of the area. Encompassing a perimeter of 450 meters, the ramparts shielded an area of 2 hectares. This protected zone was bordered by what is now the Avenue de la République, formerly the Bouzaize river, and is flanked by Rue Paradis and Rue Maizières. Notably, these streets retain a semi-circular layout that echoes the original curved structure of the ramparts, hinting at the strategic and comprehensive nature of ancient urban defense strategies. These initial fortifications of Beaune not only marked a significant development in the town’s history but also underscored the broader regional responses to the era’s pervasive threats.

Features of the City Walls

Beaune Castle: Commissioned by Louis Henri IV at the request of the Beaunois, Beaune Castle captivated the famous engraver Lallemand, who created a romantic depiction of it. Owned by the Royal Estate until the 18th century, it was sold as National Property during the Revolution to the Morelot-Bouchard family, who recognized its potential for wine cellars. Today, it is home to the prestigious wines of Maison Bouchard Père et Fils.

The Fox Tower: Constructed between 1465 and 1477, the Fox Tower features loopholes and is capped with a lava top. It witnessed the triumphant arrival of President Sadi Carnot on October 10, 1888.

The Saint-Anne Bastion: Erected during the Thirty Years’ War in 1637, the Saint-Anne Bastion strengthened the city’s eastern defenses, enabling surveillance of the Seurre road and potential threats from the plain.

The Powder Tower: This 14th-century watchtower stored materials for making gunpowder, with only its summit visible from the walkway.

The Big Tower: One of four towers built in the early 16th century, it features the coat of arms of the governor of Burgundy, La Trémouille, and helped monitor the surrounding plains.

The Tower of Marbles: Another 14th-century watchtower, integrated within the Big Tower, where logs used for defense were stored. It overlooks the old postern or Belvent gate.

The Washhouse: Constructed in 1887, the Saint-Jacques washhouse sits at the base of the rampart, where the Bouzaize river emerges. It was a favored spot for local washerwomen.

The Cordeliers Tower: Built in the early 16th century as part of the Cordeliers convent, the tower’s church was later removed to make space for Rue de l’Hôtel-Dieu.

The Bretonnière or Condé Bastion: Named after the governor of Burgundy, the Bretonnière Bastion was built from 1637. It celebrated the solemn entry of Queen Christina of Sweden in 1656.

The Ladies Tower: Also originating in the early 16th century, this tower has 7-meter-thick walls and is named after the nuns from the nearby Cistercian abbey of Lieu-Dieu.

The Saint Martin Bastion: Constructed in 1637 during the Thirty Years’ War, it was transformed into a promenade in 1765 by Mayor Maufoux and is known as Square des Lions due to the two lion statues guarding it.

The Tower of the Girls or The Oratory: Known for its 7-meter-thick walls that withstood new cast iron cannonballs, this site was linked with the local Oratorian college and had a dual reputation linked to its past inhabitants.

The Saint Nicholas Gate: This old fortified gate with a drawbridge has seen the arrival of many dignitaries. Since 1770, a newer ceremonial gate built by Mayor Maufoux has welcomed visitors from the north.

The Theater – Bastion Saint Nicolas: Built in 1569, this bastion was leveled around 1800 to construct a public ballroom, the Vauxhall. It served until 1860 when it was replaced by a magnificent Italian-style theater.

The Green Theater: Concurrent with the Vauxhall’s construction, the city authorized a bathhouse in the ditch of the Comédie rampart on the former Saint-Nicolas bastion site.

The Notre Dame Bastion: Built during the Thirty Years’ War in 1637, it includes the small 14th-century Notre Dame tower. A watchtower at the bastion’s tip dominates the moat.

The Blondeau Tower: Likely constructed around 1465, the horseshoe-shaped Blondeau Tower features a stunning central pillar vault and was formerly known as the “Tour du Quarreau.”


The Les Remparts de Beaune appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Beaune!

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Visiting Les Remparts de Beaune

Hours:

24 Hours


Price:

Free

Duration: 20 minutes

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