Situated on the banks of the Saone River in France’s famous Burgundy region, Chalon-sur-Saone is a popular starting or finishing point for river cruises along both the Saone and the Rhone, as it lies close to the point where both of these picturesque waterways meet. Once a key distribution port for the Burgundy region’s celebrated wines, Chalon was also an important Roman city, though its more recent history concerns its most famous resident, Nicephore Niepce, a French inventor who pioneered the technique used to create the world’s first photograph.
Naturally, the local museum dedicated to the town’s most renowned son is one of the area’s key attractions and offers a fascinating insight into the life and times of Nicephore Niepce. Free to explore, this excellent exhibition houses all manner of vintage cameras, photographic lenses films and of course, photographs. There’s also a statue of Niepce in the city square, offering the perfect subject for your very own photographic tribute. Whether you have an interest in photography or not, the museum is a fascinating place to visit.
Another of the town’s famous residents gives his name to its other renowned museum, namely the Denon Museum. Dominique Vivant Denon was the first director of Paris’ world-famous Louvre museum, converting the former Royal Palace into the expansive and celebrated structure that it is today. The museum is an attractive building in itself and dedicated to the visionary’s work as an artist, writer and archaeologist.
With its distinctive twin towers, the city’s St Vincent’s Cathedral is another famous landmark well worth seeing. Its beautiful neo-gothic façade dates from the 19th century whilst other parts of it date from as far back as the eighth century, which is why it has been declared one of the country’s national monuments. The Church of St Peter is another notable architectural and faith attraction, with its stunning baroque exterior.
If you find yourself with a little more time to spend in the Burgundy region, take a trip to the Jardin de Cassandra, just outside of Chalon-sur-Saone. A relatively modern garden and the work of a botanical enthusiast, it’s a tranquil escape filled with scenic flora, fauna and water features and offers the perfect change of scenery for nature-lovers.
If you’re visiting the town in July, then you’ll have the chance to experience the Chalon dans la Rue or Chalon in the Street arts festival, where notable artists from across Europe come to perform.