Do you know the term “Les plus beaux villages de France”? It is a French association created in 1982 to promote tourism in small and picturesque French communes with a rich cultural heritage. To date, there are about 170 French villages with the “Most Beautiful Villages of France” label. And guess what? All these villages are really worth seeing!
And the village I’m going to tell you about today, Noyers, is part of that association. There are nine such places in Burgundy: Châteauneuf, Pesmes, Château-Chalon, Baume-les-Messieurs, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, Lods, Noyers, Vézelay and Semur-en-Brionnais. I was also in Vézelay, but about it in another post here. This village, like Noyers, is also in my department, Yonne.
Noyers is a well-preserved medieval town. It is recognized as the seventh favorite place of the French. The village has 78 buildings classified or listed as historic monuments, which for the most part date back to the fifteenth century and have undergone little or no change. Among the most picturesque squares of the village are: Place du Marché-au-Blé, Place de la Petite-Étape-aux-Vins and Place du Grenier-à-Sel.
The names of the squares, by the way, are not accidental. They have long testified to the agricultural vocation of the city. The wine and grain trade flourished, and numerous documents confirm the importance of grape vines, walnut and cherry trees on the surrounding hills. In addition, until the early 20th century, wheelwrights, saddlers, cooperators, blacksmiths, and shoemakers made up a significant portion of the local artisans. According to the 1861 census, there were 128 winegrowers and 25 breadwinners in Noyers. Even today, even though their numbers are greatly diminished, farmers have their place in village life, and the village itself, though trying to keep up with the times, still continues to rely on agriculture.
The heritage of Noyers is not based on exceptional monuments, but on the unity of various buildings, mostly built between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, which are located either within the fortified line near the River Serenne or on both sides of the road leading to the suburbs. This road ran through a marshy area.
Thanks to the intricate course of the River Serenne, the village retained its proportions of a medieval town and limited urbanization. Away from the lines of communication (and it still is, getting to the village is not easy), Noyers escaped the ravages of industrialization, wars and commercial zones. In addition, the river Seren created a valley on a limestone plateau whose steep slopes, not very suitable for farming, and therefore the natural forest vegetation around it was preserved. All these facts explain the amazing charm that Noyers has today.
But still, there are complications, namely, structures that need to be carefully monitored and restored. The authorities keep the local population in a “fierce grip”. But it is certainly difficult, restorations require a huge investment. So the architects of the buildings in France, the Fondation du patrimoine and the association Les Amis du Vieux Noyers (Friends of Old Noyers) are helping with these issues. They inspect the buildings every year and, if they find a danger, try to eliminate it (on a voluntary basis, they give technical advice and help in collecting documents and seek public or private subsidies).
By the way, in the summer of 2006, the village was transformed into a movie set for a few days. Laurent Thirard’s film “Molière” was filmed here. And then (the same year), Hollywood “rented” Nuaye to shoot the village scenes in Matthew Vaughn’s film Stardust with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.
P.s. One of the most picturesque places in the city is the bend of the River Seren under the bridge, right at the entrance to the historic center. At sunset this place is especially fabulous.
I’ve been to the city twice. In summer and winter. In winter I managed to visit one wonderful restaurant – La Table de Clavisy. I recommend it, it’s one of the best in the city. In addition, it works even in winter, many of them are closed during off-season.
There are not many hotels in the city, good ones can be counted on the fingers, as well as in the whole area. But here is what I can recommend in the city and nearby:
Hotels in Noyers
Very advised to read the reviews in France. In my opinion, the service here is lame, a lot of terrible hotels, which is difficult to find in any other country in Europe, I do not know what this is about, but pay attention to it. And prices are high, so accommodation in France is not easy.
Côté-Serein – Domaine de Venoise (just pictured below) is a 4* guesthouse. Pretty nice, atmospheric hotel, with a gorgeous view of the river in a quiet part of Nouyaye and great reviews.
Le Moulin Neuf is a bed and breakfast in Annecy-le-France. Very decent + lovely grounds + good restaurant. I was there, I liked it very much.
Château de Vault de Lugny – Hotel Château De Vault De Lugny is located in a castle built in the XIII-XVI centuries, near the commune of Vezlet, the town of Chablis and the Morvan Regional Park. The hotel is in a very beautiful place, the castle and the grounds are magical (been there, loved it). The hotel has a restaurant with 1 Michelin star.
A delightful place. Be sure to come to Burgundy to explore an authentic France that lives a very different life.