Medieval city

origins of Noyers-sur-Serein


The origins of Noyers are not so clear. It was founded by the king of Sequane people, just before the Roman conquest, or by a contemporary with Julius Caesar called "Lucidorius". He would have given the city its first name Lucida.

There is one thing we are sure of : on and after the twelfth century the city became the seat of a mighty family. It gave famous men to France. Gui de Noyers, bishop of Sens, crowned Philippe Auguste in 1180. In the name of the king of France, Miles X (field-marshal in 1303) was in command of the French knighthood in Crécy ; the English infantrymen won the battle.

At the end of the twelfth century, Hugues de Noyers, bishop of Auxerre, built "one of the most famous castles of France". It was beleaguered by Blanche de Castille’s troops in 1217 ; but it did resist…

In 1419, at the end of the Miles dynasty, Noyers became the property of the dukes of Burgundy. The prince of Condé became count of Noyers. He made a Huguenot place of the city and took refuge in it after the defeat of Amboise conspiracy in 1568. But Catherine de Médicis dislodged him and the garnison surrendered.

Later the castle was dismantled by Henry IV in 1599. After a long time of lethargy the city revived in 1710 when the duke of Luynes married the last descendant of the Condé family.

"Place du marché au blé, place et rue de la petite étape aux vins " (corn market square, wines street and wines square). These are names that tell us the agricultural vocation of the city. Wine and grain trade were prosperous. A lot of documents attest there were plenty of vines, walnut-trees and cherry-trees over the hills all around Noyers. Till the beginning of the twentieth century a great part of local craftsmen was represented by cartwrights, harness-makers, coopers, farriers and shoe makers. In 1861 there were 128 vine-growers and 25 tillage-farmers. Today they are not so many but farmers are still keeping their places. In fact, Noyers is a rural city turned towards future.



L’Hôtel de Ville

The town-hall is probably the oldest house of Noyers. Its foundations are from the twelfth century. Burnt down, it was rebuilt a first time at the end of the fifteenth century in a renaissance style. (see the back façade in the court-yard where jails were). The town-hall was burnt down a second time. The existing façade was built in 1765.

L’Église Notre-Dame

Built between 1491 and 1515 in a very pure gothic style. Inside, a great austerity proportionate to its dimensions. The stalls of the choir were made in the seventeenth century ; a very nice work. The statue of "Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle" stands in the chapel in the south nave. This statue was first standing in the chapel of the suburb which was pulled down in 1911. (a very contested municipal initiative).

La Toison d’Or

Golden Fleece house

A very beautiful house built by Philippe Pot, a minister of Philippe le Bon (duke of Burgundy), who created the Golden Fleece Order in 1429.

Les Tours et Remparts

23 towers were standing on the sides of the old ramparts (19 remain today like the "Tour de la cave aux loups"). The walls of the ramparts are 5 or 6 feet thick. They surround the town and are opened by 3 doors ("porte de Tonnerre, ancienne porte venoise" and "porte d’Avallon", also called painted door).

L’Ancien Collège

Founded in 1633 by the fathers of Christian Tenet. They had been teaching in the college till the Revolution. A very high precision sun-dial can be seen on the wing of the building, with a Latin motto about time flying. Today it has become a museum and a primary school.

Le Kamato

It was the old salt-loft and the dreadful salt-tax Collector’s sumptuous house in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. There is also the judge’s house, a very beautiful house with stone mullions, built in a Renaissance style and called "Kamato". In Greek it means "through suffering". It was the law house. Pilgrims on the way to Compostelle have slept here.

La Porte de la rue Franche

The Tonnerre door is a massive building with a lava roof. It is part of the old device including old town dues. On the other side of the Tonnerre door, remains of ramparts can be seen, so the watchtower and the guard-house. On the level with the road there are openings of two cannon muzzles. They were here to dissuade dealers from crossing the door without paying.

Le lavoir

Don’t forget to go to the "faubourg" where the wash-house (beginning of the nineteenth century) can be seen. There is also the priory. During the thirteenth century it was the parish church. After the destruction of the castle, the lords of Noyers had been living in the adjoining buildings.