Montbard – Introduction
The city of Montbard is bigger than what you might think at first glance, but it’s not a big tourist-worthy city. Montbard is a sleeping city, a one-horse town. But it’s still worth a half-day walk-through since it is quite photogenic.
Montbard has a population of 5,500 people and has as most famous person, a naturalist/scientist named Buffon (more about him later, but it’s a name you’ll be seeing a lot). People lived here already around 3000 BC, and around 700 BC a colony of Celtic druids lived here.
There is a lot of water flowing through Montbard which is probably what makes Montbard photogenic. The Brenne river flows through the city and …
…. the Burgundy Canal (in French: Canal de Bourgogne).
The canal runs for 242 kilometres (150 miles), connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea via the Seine river. There are very little, even no commercial boats on the canal. It’s limited to private boats. The canal opened in Montbard in 1833.
There are a few low bridges in the city that you will need to go over in order cross this winding river and canal.
The City Hall of Montbard is pretty standard (it is also a museum), except for what’s on its roof….
… it is a jacquemart (a bellstriker) which was donated to the city by the Duke Philippe II of Burgundy in 1430.
This is the Hotel de Buffon built in 1734, which will eventually become the main Buffon museum. You will start noticing when walking around the city that the name Buffon is very closely associated to the city.
The Montbard castle in the Buffon Parc is the main attraction (there’s that name again), but more about the castle shortly. Click here to read more about it.
There is a small cute pond/park in front of the Hotel de Buffon.
Close to the railway station you will find the main courthouse.
Houses are built-up in Montbard, and since Montbard is situated on a hill, the closeness of the houses to each other is even more accentuated. Have a look at the Saint-Paul church. It is squeezed in by neighbouring houses.
And if you think this is bad, what do you think of this….
In-between two houses, alongside the steep steps going up, is the Ursulines chapel.
Halfway up is the entrance to the chapel..
Here, from the top of the steps, you can clearly see the chapel. The chapel is closed, and can only we visited after group reservations at the Buffon museum.
Even higher up, to the top of the hill, is the Buffon Parc with its 11th century church. The Sainte-Urse church is part of the Montbard castle, which we will show you in an upcoming article (click here to read more about it).
Montbard is not a city you’ll be going out of you way to visit. Its TGV (high speed train) railway station make it a necessity to stop here if you are planning to visit the area, so why not have a walk through the small city?