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Charolles - ancient capital of the Charollais

The town of Charolles, which lies in the lush Burgundy countryside of the Saône et Loire department in eastern-central France, was the ancient capital of the Charollais region, a land of creamy cattle, of inland waterways and of imposing chateaux. It is a very picturesque town, criss-crossed as it is with waterways for which it has drawn frequent comparisons with Venice.

Discover the rich history of the town

Charolles is a genteel country town, with a lifestyle to match. The rich history of the town offers some remnants even today, with a ruined castle, once home to the counts of Charollais, and the very impressive Neo Romanesque Church of the Sacred Heart being two examples of interesting historical sights. The latter is currently undergoing interior restoration, the exterior having already been cleaned and restored. Further monuments in Charolles include towers, multiple convents, chapels and a priory. If you are interested in the history of the region, the Municipal Museum of the Priory is well worth a visit.

Elegant riverside houses and numerous waterways

Charolles lies on the confluence of the Rivers Arconce and Semence, and also possesses canals giving it an almost Venetian aspect. The riverside houses are elegant, while the flower bedecked bridges (more than 30 of them!) over the numerous waterways add colour and an evocative summer scent to this already lovely town.

Wining and dining in Charolles

Once you have had your fill of the town's sights and monuments, the next thing to do in Charolles is eat. There are numerous restaurants of a very high standard in the town (even one Michelin starred restaurant called La Poste), and indeed, the wonderful gastronomy has earned this town a reputation for being a gourmet's paradise! The local speciality is, of course, beef from the famous Charollais cattle, but don't worry if that isn't to your taste as the fertile land around the town produces wonderful fresh vegetables and the numerous rivers bring delicious fresh water fish to the table. Snails cooked in the local style are another popular dish. Burgundy is, of course, renowned for its superb wines too, so settle down and enjoy.

Shops and services on offer

Eating and drinking aside, Charolles has good shopping and all the necessary services like banks, post offices, garages and schools. It's a great place to buy pottery, as this age old craft has long been an important part of life in Charolles. Charolles is a good place to buy a cow too, should you feel the need, as there is a notable cattle market held in town every Wednesday morning. Finally, every summer "the Nocturnes" takes place, when the inhabitants of Charolles dress in mediaeval costume and parade through the town.

Out and about

In spite of its beauty and history, the area around Charolles is little known to tourism, which means that the countryside is quite unspoilt and perfect for enjoying outdoor pursuits such as walking, cycling and horse-riding. Fishing is also popular, unsurprisingly given the amount of water around! The Saône et Loire and Burgundy region as a whole have many beautiful places to be explored. It is an area to fall in love with, whether you discover it on foot, on horse back, by boat, bike or car.

Visit La Clayette's chateau and sample some chocolate

You can take a trip to the lovely town of Cluny, just down the road from Charolles or visit the fascinating departmental capital of Macon. For a really special day out, though, spend some time at the fabulous Château of La Clayette. To drive from Charolles take the D985 to La Clayette, where you will find the chateau in the middle of town. The chateau is gorgeous, standing fairytale-like in lovely grounds and surrounded by its own lake. It can't fail to entrance the visitor. An added attraction of this town is that here resides a master chocolatier, Bernard Dufoux, who makes the best chocolates you will ever taste… guaranteed!

How to get there

There is no nearby international airport nearby, with Lyon being the nearest which is probably the main reason why Burgundy and particularly this area have not become more widely known to the tourist trade. Lyon is served by British Airways, Air France, easy Jet and Bmi Baby. Geneva Airport is also possible to use, served by these airlines as well as Flybe and Jet2. Train travel does however provide an alternative viable option with the TGV running to the nearby city of Macon. Driving to the town is easy as it lies very close to the N79 Route Nationale.

Property prices and availability in and around Charolles

Although property in the better known wine regions of Burgundy can be very expensive, the Saône et Loire offers some real bargains. The department and particularly the areas around Charolles have not yet been "done to death" by tourism or the foreign property market, so if the myriad charms of this town or area have captured your heart, your dream property may just be waiting for you.

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Charolles AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Charolles?

Charolles is situated in eastern-central France. It lies in the south-west of the Saône et Loire department.

Charolles Property Map


Burgundy Guide

Burgundy Property Map


Saône-et-loire Guide

  Saône-et-loire Map

Population: 3,153

Access: By air: The nearest airport with direct flights from the UK is Lyon. By rail: The nearest railway station with a TGV service is at Macon. By road: The town is found from the N79.

Economy: The economy is mainly agricultural.

Interesting fact: The famous Charollais beef cattle are named for this town and its old region of Charollais.

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