Deep in the heart of the Burgundy countryside, there’s a small city by the name of Chalon-Sur-Saône. Filled with timber-framed houses and a cathedral dating back to the 8th-century, this hidden gem of Eastern France is well worth venturing through on any trip to France. And what is perhaps the crowning jewel in this town is not the volume of cobbled lanes, nor is it the number of pretty coffee shops. Instead, the Doyenne Tower (Tour du Doyenné) is a little tower with oodles of history that time’s largely forgotten…
Tour du Doyenné Address | 15 Quai Jules Chambion 71100 Chalon-sur-Saône
Doyenne Tower (Tour du Doyenné), the brick building that moved…
Thanks to its precarious and ever-so-dominating position alongside the River Saône, a waterway that wends its way through much of Eastern France, including Lyon, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Doyenne Tower has always been situated on the small island that forms the larger city of Chalon-Sur-Saône.
Instead, the 15th-century construction was once the living quarters of the Dean of Saint-Vincent (or Doyen as the position is so-called in French). As thin as a baguette, all that’s left of the quarters is the medieval staircase. Unfortunately, following several centuries of neglect, the tower fell into disrepair and was set for demolition in 1907.
Following its deconstruction, the parts and pieces were shipped up to Paris, where they were set to go for auction. Luckily, the tower was saved by American Franck Jay-Gould. He paid for the restoration of the tower and moved to its present location. The Tour du Doyenné was completed in its current state in 1927.
How to visit the Doyenné Tower
Today, the tower is open to the public during certain times of the year. For example, on some open day Sundays, the tour has been unlocked and its secrets uncovered. In 2018, La Tour was opened to the public at the end of November.
Nearby to the current position of the tower, you’ll soon spy the ancient hospital of Saint Laurent. Tour du Doyenné itself has been a listed heritage monument since the 27th of September, 1948. Other can’t miss Chalon-Sur-Saone attractions include Museum Niepce (he took the earliest surviving photograph still in existence) and musée Vivant-Denon, the local fine arts and archaeology museum.