a fortified gate of the medieval wall
Known in the 18th century as "the little Athens of Burgundy", the historic capital of the Auxois, Semur-en-Auxois, is listed as a "site patrimonial remarquable” (outstanding heritage site) and is also part of the "Pays d’art et d’histoire" (Country of Art and History). On the edge of the Morvan Regional Nature Park, 1 hour from Dijon and 20 minutes from Montbard and its TGV, Semur is also just 10 minutes from the A6 motorway. The town offers all the necessary shops and services. Built in a meander of the Armançon river, the site was a fort in the early Middle Ages. As a ducal administrative centre and of economic importance, the site was fortified several times. However, the traces of the medieval urbanisation still dominate the landscape today.
Yesterday’s traveller had to pass through a barbican, an advanced defence structure, before reaching it. The same procedure applies to today's traveller. Once through, the gate is revealed, giving access to the old district, with its cobbled streets, shops and old houses, all within a 5-minute walk of the Collégiale Notre-Dame.
The fortified gate
With its corbelled pepper towers, its hipped roof with two Jacobean dormers, its timber-framed upper level resting on brackets, and its pointed-arch carriage gates, it stands out to passers-by in all its majesty. The dressed stone facade also has the particularity of typical wide grooves where the gaffs of the two drawbridges would have been placed. They indicate the presence of a pedestrian door, which has since been transformed into a window. A moat, which has now been filled in, completed the structure. On the south wall, a door with moulded jambs features an unusual recess-shaped lintel. It houses a statue of the Virgin, on which traces of the original colours can still be seen.
Through the door, a spiral staircase leads to the first floor. A small door on the left leads to the ground floor premises, with a window onto the street. The floor is tiled.
With tiled floor and exposed beams, it consists of a small room lit by a lancet in a vaulted recess. This appears to be an old, narrow workspace.
The two drawbridges were operated in the main room, the guardhouse. The mechanisms have now been removed. It features a stone fireplace and, on the south side, an old window seat, now closed, visible from the corridor. The ceiling has exposed beams and the floor is tiled with cobblestones.
The second floor offers two living rooms, one of which has a fireplace with a large straight hood identical to that on the lower floor, and two smaller rooms in the turrets. In order to give the place a more comfortable character, alterations were made at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the reduction of the wooden fireplaces, the addition of large windows and floor paving. The ceilings reveal the beams and the skilful work of the carpenters of the time. The floors are identical to those on the previous floor. A staircase leads to the attic, revealing much more of the talent of the craftsmen of yesteryear thanks to a cathedral roof structure, illuminated by the two Jacobean skylights.
Renovation, restoration or rehabilitation, the fortified gate, an emblematic place of the medieval city, is now waiting for a heritage lover to breathe new life into the old walls.
This is a unique opportunity to continue, in one's own way, the work begun by Jean de Sauvigny over 600 years ago. The many options include the creation of an atypical flat or an artist’s studio in a part of town where many pedestrians pass by.
Its immediate proximity to the street and its location as a gateway to the old town are obvious advantages. Much more than a simple dwelling, the gate could contribute to the flourishing of local heritage.
|Land registry surface area||15 m2|
|Main building surface area||86 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||1|
Renaud Figueres +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.