Stage town for the second time

Canton chef-lieu in Côte-d'Or (21)

Population: 4,200 (2020)

Specialities: Burgundy snails, parsley ham, Burgundy truffles, beef bourguignon, gougères, oeufs en meurette (eggs in wine sauce). Burgundy wines. Epoisses.

Personalities: Vauban (student at the Collège des Carmes), Émilie du Châtelet (mathematician, physicist, woman of letters and friend of Voltaire), Marc Ogeret (singer), Fabrice Philippot (cyclist).

Sport: Course des chausses, Course de la bague, Foulées d'automne (October)

Economy: two production units of the Maroquinerie Thomas group are based in Semur: Ateliers d'Armançon and Manufacture CTS. Hohner accordions are made in Semur. The Mistral biscuit factory, founded in 1954, has been based in Semur since 1974.

Events : Fête de la bague (since 1639), Festival Ouverture! (French music), Jazz in Semur (July), Ce Murmure Festival (August), Cinétoiles, Vive la Magie (November), BD à Semur (comics, April).  

Labels: Tour de France cycling city / Remarkable heritage site / Small city of character / City in bloom with 2 flowers


In 2007, Semur-en-Auxois served as the launch pad for a stage won in Bourg-en-Bresse by Tom Boonen ahead of Oscar Freire and Erik Zabel. That day, Bradley Wiggins launched a 191-km breakaway, but was reined in with 7km to go. In 2008, Semur-en-Auxois hosted the French road championships, won by Nicolas Vogondy, while Jeannie Longo won the women's race. Best young rider in the Tour de France in 1989 and second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège that same year before becoming a team-mate of Miguel Indurain, Fabrice Philippot died in June 2020 in Semur-en-Auxois, where he spent the end of his life.  


  • Semur-en-Auxois Castle (the Keep)

Construction: 13th century.

Style: medieval.

History: the castle, built at the base of a loop in the Armançon, was the work of the Dukes of Burgundy, who wanted to protect themselves from the Kings of France. The four strong corner towers remain. The town also had a city wall, of which several notable remains remain.

Characteristics: Despite being dismantled in the 17th century, the town's architecture still bears traces of its existence. The Lourdeault or Orle d'Or tower is the most imposing, standing 44-metres high with walls five-metres thick at the base. After 1368, it was used as a granary. The wall's craze dates from 1602 and its top was once encircled with gilded metal. Since 1904, it has been home to the Semur-en-Auxois Science Society's collections and library. The Géhenne Tower, formerly known as Tour de la Boucherie (Butchery Tower), was used as a salt store. The other two remaining towers are Tour du Pin or Tour de la Prison and Tour Margot, adjacent to the municipal theatre.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1862.  

  • Collegiate church of Notre-Dame

Construction: 13th to 16th centuries.

Style: Gothic.

History: Robert I, Duke of Burgundy, is said to have decided to build a church in the eastern part of Semur to atone for the murder of his father-in-law Dalmas. Dependent on the Benedictine abbey of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, the original priory gave way in the 13th century to the current church, built in 1225. Large donations, particularly from trade guilds, led to the addition of side chapels on the north aisle in the 15th century. The church became a collegiate church in 1739 and was restored in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc. Work began in 1845 and continued until 1854-55.

Characteristics: the façade has two square towers, while the transept is topped by an octagonal bell tower 58-metres high. Preceded by a vast 15th-century porch with three portals, the nave is surprisingly narrow and high. It has eight bays, with the Benedictine-style choir having three. A triforium dominates the choir. It is adorned with a number of sculpted heads, representing various figures from 13th-century Semur society. The central stained-glass window depicts the Assumption of the Virgin into heaven by four angels. From the transept, the north aisle contains the drapers' chapel (16th century), the butchers' chapel (16th century), the chapel of Sainte-Barbe (16th century) and the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, which contains a polychrome Entombment from the late 15th century, with a stained-glass window commemorating the American soldiers who died in the 1914-1918 war.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1840.  

  • Old hospital

Construction: 16th to 19th centuries.

Style: classic.

History: In 1744, the administrators of the Saint-Jacques hospital bought the 16th-century mansion to build a new hospital. Between 1744 and 1749, the narrowness of the site made it essential to construct a building to the right of the hospital, housing two wards on either side of a chapel, which was consecrated in 1749. The Sainte-Marthe ward was for women, while the Saint-Louis ward was for men. In 1745, the administrators purchased a two-leaf wrought iron gate for the entrance to the main courtyard. The men's ward was enlarged in 1827 and, in 1844, a new wing was built to the left of the courtyard, known as the Arnault wing. The whole building then had a U-shaped plan surrounding a courtyard, opened by an entrance gate to the north-east. Other works were undertaken during the 20th century, including the construction of the medical-surgical unit in 1964. The hospital was converted into a retirement home in 1976, following the transfer of services to another site. The hospital was finally closed at the beginning of June 2009.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 2010.  

  • Course à la bague (Ring Race)

In 1566, during the Whitsuntide fair, Semur-en-Auxois held a "shoe race", which was a running contest. The governor's wife is said to have demanded that it be replaced by a horse race. It was created in 1639. In 1651, the new race was awarded a prestigious prize: a gold ring. This race is still held today. In 2023, the town organised the 385th edition. It takes place on the Mall, a wide pedestrian walkway, on May 31 each year. It brings together some of the finest riders in the world, bearing the colours of the region's owners and breeders. Riders have to cover a distance of 2,112 metres in a straight line on clay. The Ring Race lasts no more than two minutes. The Shoe Race is still held during the week preceding the Ring Race. It is contested in different age and gender categories, with a course through the historical centre of Semur-en-Auxois.  

  • Theatre du rempart

The Italian-style Theatre in Semur-en-Auxois was inaugurated in 1847. Destroyed by fire in 1901, it was rebuilt identically by the town council, retaining its Empire style. After reopening in 1904, it hosted operas and then balls. Music played a major role in its programming. Restored in 1930 and again in 1987, it was managed until 2012 by the Municipal Culture Office. The theatre hosts major events such as the Autumn Opera and the Scènes en découverte (Discovery Stages) festival initiated by Marcel Bozonnet, as well as renowned artists including François Morel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Dominique Pitoiset, Thibault de Montalembert and Philippe Berling. In 2012, the theatre was closed by order of the safety commission. With the support of a number of donors, the town council undertook to bring the theatre up to standard and restore it.  After nearly six years of closure, the Théâtre du Rempart officially reopened on 28 April 2018.


  • Epoisses:

Epoisses is a soft, washed-rind cheese produced in the village of Epoisses, 13 km from Semur-en-Auxois. It generally weighs 250 grams but can be found in larger sizes. This cheese, which contains 24 pc fat, is matured by being rubbed with marc de Bourgogne. Its ivory-orange to brick-red colour is due to surface bacteria: the use of colouring agents is strictly prohibited. It has had an AOC since 1991 and an AOP since 1996. Its origins date back to the 16th century. It is thought to have been created by Cistercian monks who settled in Époisses. Consumed at the court of Louis XIV, Epoisses became a famous cheese at the end of the Ancien Régime. Brillat-Savarin declared it to be the "king of cheeses", and by 1820 there was considerable trade in it. Around 1900, there were around a hundred producers, but after 1945, industrialisation and the widespread use of the Friesian cow to the detriment of the Eastern spotted cow threatened the traditional Epoisses.    


Recibe información exclusiva del Tour de France