One of the original departments created out of the Province of Burgundy following the French Revolution, Côte-d’Or is now one of eight departments that make up the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The name is taken from a prominent escarpment that forms part of the watershed between northern and southern Europe. The geology and soils on the eastern slopes of the escarpment have produced some of France’s finest vineyards. And the development of these vineyards owes much to the Cistercian monks at Cîteaux Abbey.
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Alesia is a significant historical site in France, for it was here that Vercingetorix took his last stand against Julius Caesar in 52 BC. On top of Mont Auxois was a Celtic oppidum, that following Caesar’s defeat of the Gauls became a Gallo-Roman town. There is very little evidence of this town today, but remains of the Roman town are visible, including the theatre and basilica. Nearby is the Vercingetorix Monument erected by Napoleon III.
Founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard, Fontenay Abbey is one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in Europe; and is now a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. The abbey has retained its Romanesque style, with the exception of the refectory which was destroyed in 1745. An optional guided tour or enables you to see the very well preserved church, dormitory, cloister, council room, heating room, abbot’s lodgings, and the forge.
Not far from Mont Auxois, the location of the Celtic oppidum of Alesia, is the Alésia MuséoParc. With a variety of display techniques and multimedia a circular exhibition space, designed by Bernard Tschumi, tells the Battle of Alesia in September 52 BC in extraordinary detail. Outside is a reconstruction of the system of fortifications built by Caesar to surround and lay siege to the Celtic settlement.