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little tourist train

Loop ,  Cultural ,  Cultural History ,  Historic ,  Unusual ,  For children ,  Road in Chalon-sur-Saône
6.1 km
Cultural History
Very easy
  • Discover the town of Chalon sur Saône thanks to a guided tour with the little tourist train. 28 points of interest on the route. Departure from the Tourist Office from June 1st to September 30th. Duration 45 minutes.

  • Discover the town of Chalon sur Saône thanks to a guided tour with the little tourist train. 28 points of interest on the route. Departure from the Tourist Office from June 1st to September 30th. Duration 45 minutes.
  • Difference in height
    70.8 m
  • Documentation
    GPX / KML files allow you to export the trail of your hike to your GPS (or other navigation tool)
Points of interest
1 Instructions
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard our “Tourist Train”. Please pay attention whilst we give you some safety advice before we depart: please do not smoke on the train; you must not leave or join the train anywhere other than the official stops; please remain seated during the trip; children remain the sole responsibility of parents or guardians accompanying them. Please keep control of your animals.
Thank you for your attention ladies and gentlemen, and we wish you a pleasant trip.

2 Statue Niépce
On the quay, you see the statue of the inventor of photography, Nicéphore Niépce, who was born here in Chalon-sur-Saône in 1765. The bronze sculpture by Eugène Guillaume has watched over the Place du Port Villiers since 1885.
This famous Chalonnaise dedicated his life to scientific discovery. From 1816, he researched methods of fixing images on to a support. His first successful photograph was taken in 1827 at his home in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, just outside Chalon-sur-Saône.
Niépce has also given his name to the photography museum that you can see on the left. Housed in the former offices of the “Messageries Royale” (the first postal service) since 1974, it is home to a unique collection based around the origins of the photographic image.
Just past the Niepce Museum you can see the façade of an 18th century mansion, built facing the river by Emiland Gauthey. Today, this is the Heritage Centre where you can trace the history of the town from its origins to the present day.
3 Old Hospital
On the opposite bank of the Saône, you can see the former Chalon hospital, founded in 1530 by the city aldermen, with authorisation from Francois 1st. This charitable establishment treated the poor free of charge, from where it got its name “the hospital of the sick poor”. The river Saône formed what was considered a cordon sanitaire between the hospital and the city.
After having spent nearly 500 years on the Ile Saint-Laurent, in autumn 2011 the hospital moved to a new building that is more suitable and with better access.
At the point of the island on your right is the Dean’s Tower. Originally, this tower enclosing a staircase was located in the lodgings of the eldest of the canons of St Vincent’s cathedral. In 1907, it was dismantled and put up for sale in Paris. Frank Jay Gould, a wealthy American patron of the arts, acquired it and returned it to the community who, in 1927, installed it on the Ile St Laurent. Today, the Dean’s Tower marks the entry to the Chalon Marina from the river.
4 Rue de Strasbourg
We are now travelling along the Rue de Strasbourg, where we find a good number of restaurants and shops. This street has contained hostelries since the Middle Ages. Because the Isle St Laurent was outside the town walls, many travellers were accommodated here once the town gates were closed. Situated in a neighbourhood close to the border between the Kingdom of France and the Hapsburg Empire, the isle was often attacked. A fire destroyed almost all the buildings in the 18th century. Because of this, many of the inhabitants installed niches containing statues of the Virgin and Child, or other saints, in order to provide divine protection to their homes. This practice is particularly noticeable here, but it is also found in many towns and in other quarters of Chalon.

Leaving the Rue de Strasbourg, you come to the site of the former Gare du Tacot station. This little train, used locally, ran from 1905 to 1936. It linked the station of Chalon Saint Laurent with the village of Mervans in the Bresse, and enabled the supply to the starch works in Chalon. The train was made up of a small steam locomotive and 3 or 4 wagons for passengers and merchandise. The shed and all the necessary maintenance equipment were located on the Quai de la Monnaie.

5 Pont Saint Laurent
We can now see the Saint-Laurent bridge. There is evidence of a bridge over the Saône at this spot dating back to ancient times, but it was Emiland Gauthey who gave the bridge its current form at the end of the 18th century.
The “big bridge over the Saône” was destroyed on the 5th September 1944 during the German retreat, then reconstructed in concrete, faced with stone. Originally having 8 obelisks, only 4 remain today.
The town of Chalon has two other road bridges over the Saône today, the Jean Richard bridge to your left and the Pont de Bourgogne bridge to your right.
6 Angle Grande rue/Rue du Pont
6. Angle Grande Rue
We are now on the current Grande Rue, which today has many shops. This road has always been a major axis through the city and follows the traces of the “cardo”, the north-south route of the old Gallo-Roman city of Cabilonnum. During the Middle Ages, it was closed in parts by gates protected by drawbridges. The walls had only 3 or 4 gates and the Grande Rue was the main thoroughfare until the 19th century.
This commercial artery is today lined with attractive mansions with the flat fronts typical of the 19th century. However, often, these houses remain largely mediaeval inside.
The names of the adjacent streets (rue des Tonneliers – Coopers’ Street, rue des poulets – Chicken Street…) indicate the grouping of inhabitants by trade common in the Middle Ages. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the Rue de Tonneliers and the area above the Rue Saint George was where one found the high nobility. These families built a number of mansions in the quarter that you can best discover by strolling around the area.
Note on your left, at No. 37, “La Maison des Trois Rois” (House of The Three Kings). The façade of this former inn, much altered in the 19th century, has windows with colonnades perhaps from the Middle Ages… but also possibly Gothic Revival. The dormers are completely exuberant, inspired as much by the Middle Ages as an eastern dream…
Victor Hugo, when passing through Chalon sur Saône in 1839, described the building which was still at the time, a hotel frequented by travelling merchants.
7 Angle grande rue /Rue aux Fèvres
The Pontet gate, protected by its towers and a water filled ditch, marked the entrance to the town in the Middle Ages. This was pushed back in the 16th century in order to allow the creation of the Place de Beaune, which we are now leaving on our left. We are heading along the Rue aux Fevres, which follows the traces of the old Roman ramparts. This busy street is lined with houses from different eras. Here on your left is number 60, which is a 17th century mansion, typical of our region. Built above a level of cellars there are two living floors, graced with big windows, then an attic level with roof lights. Built in stone, the facade is decorated between each level with bands, each made of rectangular table motifs that accentuate the symmetrical aspect of the building. Opposite, number 63 has a typically 19th century facade, tall, spread over 4 floors with emphasis on the central part which is ornamented with stone or cast-iron balconies.
8 Théâtre Piccolo
In 1769, Emiland Gauthey furnished the city with plans and drawings for the Piccolo theatre, the Italian-style theatre you can see on your left. Built in 1776, it was heavily inspired by the Opera de Versailles, which was constructed in 1770 by Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Of the original building, only the façade and the interior volume survived. The interior decoration was completely redesigned in 1886.
9 Cathédrale
Although there is evidence that there has been a Bishopric in Chalon since 449, the current cathedral is the result of eight successive building projects, most of which took place in the Middle Ages from the 12th to the 16th centuries, with styles ranging from the Roman to Gothic. The current façade is Neo-gothic and dates from 1847.
10 Place Saint Vincent
Looking around the Place Saint-Vincent, certain houses date from the 15th and 16th centuries; these are recognised by their ground floors in stone and their cantilevered and half-timbered upper floors.
Other half-timbered houses, but with flat facades, date from the 17th century and show evidence of the first attempts to reduce the risk of fire. The timbers were covered with a coloured plaster thought to reduce the risk of fire propagation.
11 Rue Saint Vincent
We are now in the Rue Saint Vincent, still mostly lined with half-timbered, cantilevered houses; we are in the Bishop’s territory here, and he felt no need to apply the royal edicts to his part of the town.

12 Rue du Chatelet
From the junction with the Grand Rue, the houses came under the responsibility of the town’s governor, in addition, the Rue du Châtelet, along which we are now travelling, was where the court officials lived, (judges, lawyers), those who had their seats in the Place du Châtelet… and who were inclined to respect the laws; which is why the facades are aligned, flat, in stone, and the road is wider.
13 Place du châtelet et Rue au Change
Now on your left is the Place du Châtelet, where in the Middle Ages there was a castle stronghold. We are now travelling along the Rue au Change whose shape follows that of the ditches that surrounded the place. It owes its name to the money changers who were installed here under the protection and control of the Duke of Burgundy, to change the money of the many merchants who came from around the known world to trade during the great fairs of Chalon.
14 Place de l’Hôtel de ville
You will notice in front of you, the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville which, during the Middle Ages was the site of the great fairs that rapidly brought prosperity to the city.
Bordered by convents from the Renaissance to the Revolution, these became public property after the Revolution. On your left the ancient Carmelite convent was replaced by the Town Hall from 1844, which has a Neo-classical façade then a pediment to the glory of the town and its prosperity. A little further down is church of Saint Pierre, rebuilt in the 18th century in the spirit of the counter, or catholic, reform, with a dome and a layout concentrated around the main altar, which was remodelled in 1900.
The square is also home to the Denon Museum, inaugurated in 1866, and which houses collections of Fine Arts and Archaeology.

15 Ancien hôtel de Virey
We are now passing the Sub-Prefecture of Chalon, which occupies the former Virey mansion. Following the creation of the department of Saône et Loire on the 4th March 1790, the Assembly of Electors decided to establish Chalon as the main town of the department, rather than Macon, but the townspeople of Macon protested so strongly that in February 1791, the Assembly relented and installed the administration there. However, Chalon kept the Court of Assizes. The Sub-Prefecture has occupied this location since the middle of the 19th century, which has subsequently been enlarged.
16 Place de Gaulle
On the left, beyond the Rue de la Banque was the first Chalon railway station, built in 1849. Until 1854 it was the terminus for passengers coming from Dijon or Paris, who would continue their journey to the south by steam boat along the river Saône. Rebuilt in 1865, the station was finally abandoned in 1894 because after 1854, most of the trains stopped at what is the current station, in the Saint-Cosme quarter.
17 Palais de justice
Opposite the square we can see the Courthouse, built in 1844 to plans drawn by the architect Eugene Piot. The project had two objectives; to build a modern prison with cells to improve the conditions of detention, and to design a functional court adjoining the prison to prevent possible escapes. The prison was abandoned in 1991 and demolished in 2010 in order to enlarge the courthouse.
In the middle of the square is the Thevenin Fountain, which pays homage to the family who contributed to the creation of a system of supplying drinking water to Chalon in 1870, putting an end to the summer cholera epidemics that killed hundreds of people.
18 Fontaine Neptune
We are now looking at the Neptune Fountain which shows the god of the sea with his famous trident, which was sculpted in the 18th century by Nicolas Sordoillet.
At the time, the wells, which were generally in private courtyards, were very often contaminated as they were dug, and the poor-quality water caused epidemics. The people preferred to collect their water from this public fountain built in 1744, and whose water came from a spring in the Citadel. Depending on where they lived, they could collect water from the Saone, if possible, upstream from the town. Obviously, certain precautions were necessary, for example filtering through several layers of sand, or leaving the water to stand in jugs. But apparently it was the best and the healthiest.

19 Parc Georges Nouelle
We are now passing the Georges Nouelle park. Created in 1951 right in the heart of the city on an area of neglected and swampy land, the park of over 2 hectares is dedicated to Georges Nouelle, who was mayor of Chalon for over 30 years, and who was the originator of this project. Locals called the park the “park des biches” as a reference to the number of deer that used to be found here. Today, a magnificent aviary is home to 19 species of exotic birds and there is a lake with 40 species of ducks and teal. The outside enclosure contains a mini farm with two donkeys, two dwarf goats, a black pig and a number of exotic poultry.
20 Fortifications
On your right, you can distinguish an element of the rounded fortifications that is known as a boulevard. This is one of the many remains of the strong ramparts that surrounded the town from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Chalon was on the border of the Hapsburg Empire until 1674. We are travelling below and outside the city walls, on the flood plain that was used for grazing.

21 Maison des vins
Now we are coming to the Maison des Vins de la Côte Chalonnaise. Since 1982, this organisation has assured the promotion of the wines of the Côte Chalonnaise. Here you will find all the appellations at the same price as you would buy direct from the winemaker.
You can also see the Théâtre de Verdure (outdoor performance space) which has recently been restored, the exhibition centre and the Colisée, where the city’s basketball club Elan Chalon play their matches.
22 Jardin Géobotanique
On your right are the Geo-botanical gardens. This area has recreations of the different regional landscapes, like the Côte Chalonnaise with its vines and dry-stone structures, the lush verges of the Bressan marshes, the Morvan with its granite rocks… These landscape recreations are formed using around 3,800 species of perennials and shrubs.
23 Bastion royal
The Royal Bastion, seen here, also formed part of the ramparts built in the 16th century. Its main role was to protect the exterior grounds, the boulevard that we have driven along and, higher, the Saint Pierre bastion. It adjoined the Beaune gate, built on the road that we’ve just been travelling along, after crossing a point above a water-filled ditch. This gate replaced the Pontet gate that we spoke about earlier. Used as a barracks, it also served as a munitions depot, a beggars hall or a school. It was demolished in the 19th century.

24 Obélisque
Emiland Gauthey, who was born in Chalon-sur-Saône in 1732, will forever be known as the designer of the Canal du Centre, which links the basins of the Loire and Saône rivers. Originally, the Canal du Centre joined the Saône at the level of the Jean Richard bridge. A basin marking the end of the Canal was where the Boulevard de la Republique is now and finished opposite the obelisk that you are about to see. This monument was created by Emiland Gauthey and echoes the decoration on the Saint-Laurent bridge, and also the obelisk placed at the start of this canal, at Digoin.

25 Le quartier de la citadelle
In the 6th century, the Saint Pierre abbey was built in this quarter. The buildings were sacked by Protestants during the wars of religion, so the monks took refuge in the Place Saint Pierre (now the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville) where they built a new church.
A royal citadel followed, taking over the quarter and giving its name to the neighbourhood, even though it was knocked down by Emiland Gauthey in 1788, in order to open up the Rue de la Citadelle and make Chalon more accessible by road.
26 Place Carrée/ Place Ronde
The whole of the quarter was part of the Citadel until 1788. At this point, Emiland Gauthey suggested knocking down the military building, which no longer served a purpose as the frontier had been moving eastwards since the end of the 17th century, and to construct in its place a new quarter, on either side of the Rue de Citadelle, which was crossed by perpendicular roads. Alongside the roads, several plazas were planned, giving the round and square plazas that face each other. However, most of the houses in the area weren’t built until 1830 or later, well after the Revolution, so Gauthey’s classical plan was conserved.
27 Boulevard de la République
Built from 1895 in the space left by the former railway lines after the station closed, the Boulevard de la Republic links the old town with the industrial and workers quarter of Saint Cosme, which had been incorporated into the town in 1854. This gave the opportunity to those families newly enriched by the industry, to build modern and luxurious homes, symbols of social climbing. The only “Boulevard” (a wide avenue planted with trees) in the town, it was originally equipped with street furniture and a square was created nearby.

28 Rue Gloriette
It was here in this street close to the town ramparts that Emiland Gauthey was born in 1732. Son of a doctor, he attended school here in the town and then went to Paris, where he learned mathematics and architecture, and then joined the new “School of Bridges and Footpaths”.
At 26 years old, Gauthey was named deputy engineer for the States of Burgundy, a position he occupied for 24 years in the South East of the region, under the authority of another Chalonnaise, Thomas Dumorey. He relied on the new ideas based on physical and mathematic data supported by experimentation. He also fought for the construction of the Canal du Centre.
On becoming chief engineer of the States of Burgundy, in 1793 he finally achieved the opening to navigation of the canal, which at that time passed a few metres from here.
In 1791, he was named Inspector General of Bridges and Footpaths, and he returned to Paris, at the same time adopting a little nephew, Claude Navier, who became one of the most brilliant engineers of the early 19th century. He died in the capital on the 14th July 1806.
29 Monument aux Morts
The Chalon sur Saone War Memorial is a Historic Monument in the Art Deco style, and is the work of the sculptor Alfred Rochette. It was unveiled on the Quai Gambetta on the 1st November 1926. Here are inscribed the names of the 1013 Chalonnaise soldiers who died during the first World War, as well as those who fell in combat during World War Two, Korea, Indochina and Algeria. The recent improvements to the quays of the Saone have given it a new setting.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at the end of our journey. The team from the Grand Chalon Tourist Office thank you for your attention and are available to help you with advice and information for the rest of your stay in the area.

71 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 177 m
  • End altitude : 177 m
  • Maximum altitude : 187 m
  • Minimum altitude : 171 m
  • Total positive elevation : 71 m
  • Total negative elevation : -71 m
  • Max positive elevation : 16 m
  • Min positive elevation : -9 m