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Guide 100% touristic

The story of Villeneuvesur-Yonne

Villeneuve’s coat of arms

Villeneuve-sur-Yonne is ideally located on the banks of the River Yonne and set amidst rolling hills covered alternately by woods and fields. The town’s houses are nestled together around the Bell Tower of Notre-Dame Church. Over the centuries, the town has grown harmoniously, the old centre still retaining its myriad dark red, flat tiled roofs. The town is circled by a shady esplanade which follows the traces of former mediaeval walls that protected the ancient city. Town houses dating back to the 17th and 18th century only add to the charm. Numerous sites of archaeological interest in the surrounding hillsides and valleys show that the area was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic period. People came from far and wide, to buy and repair their flint tools. The first farmers of the Neolithic period, followed by the GalloRomans established their farms in the Valley without creating a settlement as such. It was in 1163 that King Louis VII founded the town on the East bank of the River Yonne. He did so in order to extend his royal domain and strategically strengthen his position against any possible attack from the Champagne area, which was then virtually an independent state. The establishment of this new town was also part of the great development of the French regions during the 12th century. Within fifty years, Villeneuve saw its population, benefiting from a very advantageous juridical statute «the Law of Lorris», soar and its boundaries expand beyond its 2 km long defensive walls with glacis, broad moat and towered walls opened by five monumental gates. Two of the original gates still survive to this day. During the l3th century, Villeneuve, now officially one of the strongholds of the French monarchy welcomed King Philippe Auguste. In 1204, he held his parliament here. Saint Louis also visited the town on several occasions. Villeneuve-Le-Roi, as the town was then known, was to keep its name until 1792. The name changed during the French Revolution, was restored during the Restoration period, and once again during July Monarchy.

The town remained the seat of a Royal bailiwick of some thirty parishes until the French Revolution. Between 1421 and 1430, during the Hundred Years War, Villeneuve was occupied by the Anglo-Burgundian faction. Despite being besieged several times during the religious wars of the Protestant Reformation, the town remained faithful to the «Ligue» against Henri IV and in April 1594 was finally overwhelmed and burnt to the ground. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the prosperity of Villeneuve was due to its location on the river, as well as its surrounding forests and vineyards. Its harbour was used for storing wood and coal to supply Paris. Wine and leather trading were an additional source of wealth for the town. As a result, rich traders built elegant houses in the town centre between the “rues basses” and the «rues hautes». As well as rural depopulation, the economy of the town suffered badly when an attack of Phylloxera destroyed its vineyards. Nowadays, Villeneuve-sur-Yonne has approximately 5400 inhabitants (a number only exceeded back in 1842). Since W.W.II, the creation of an industrial estate situated on the left bank of the River Yonne has brought 800 new jobs and opportunities for local business. A variety of cultural and sports associations make a positive contribution to the life of this attractive town.

Louis VII


The doors of Burgundy Sens Gate

This North gate is almost identical to Joigny Gate at the South of Villeneuve. Not many alterations were made to it during the Renaissance period. Its portcullis has recently been restored, together with the remains of its immediately adjoining walls. The entire archaeological and historical collections of the Museum of Villeneuve will progressively be housed within its walls. Villeneuve’s Town Hall, next to Sens Gate, was formerly a private home dating from the 18th century. It was built on the vestiges of the town’s ramparts by a rich Army contractor. Outside, you can take a walk through its shady park which leads down to the banks of Yonne River. There you will also see the ruins of “Rousson Tower”, one of seven original cylindrical defense towers along the walls. You may also enjoy a stroll along the former moat, now arranged in gardens with a running stream and the consolidated ruins of another tower set in the surrounding walls.

Joigny Gate On the South gate of the ancient fortress, a small four towered square gate house was built. Its plan probably dates from the late 13th century. Its many windows and slate roofs, topped by gilded lead spikes were added in the 16th century. Parts of the exhibits of the Museum of Villeneuve are now housed here. On the second floor, you can visit the «Knights’ Room», where temporary exhibitions are held. The room offers a view overlooking Villeneuve, its old roofs and monuments. Next to Joigny Gate, at number 2 rue Carnot, you can visit the Museum Art Galleries, including paintings and sculptures from the l9th and the 2Oth centuries.

Public wash house


Notre Dame de l’Assomption Organ of Notre Dame The organ of Notre Dame was built in 1737 by Marcellin Tribuot. Although the organ was classified as a historic monument in 1973, it was non-functional at that time. In 1995 Gaston Kern restored it to its original state. The organ has 30 stops, 18 of which have their original pipes, 3 manuals of 54 keys and 28 pedal notes. The stops, whose names are conducive to reverie, fill the Church of Our Lady with a flawless harmonic richness.

You will see behind the three portals of an unfinished Renaissance facade designed by Jean Chereau, one of the most magnificent gothic buildings of the Yonne area. Notre-Dame de l’Assomption was built in the first half of the l3th century and completed with added chapels during the 14th and l5th centuries. Inside Notre-Dame Church (daily access through the entrance on rue Pierret). The nave, a fine example of ogival design, has no transept and is 213 ft long, 3O ft wide and 66 ft high. The side chapels were built over the course of three centuries (13th to 16th centuries). Great care and attention were given to the construction as every architect respectfully followed the original style created by the first master builders. Visitors will be charmed by the various ornamental elements bearing witness to different periods of French history. In the right aisle of the church, you will see a 16th century stainedglass window featuring episodes of the Virgin Mary’s life, and also a «Virgin Mary holding a Bird» dating from the 14th century. The Chapel of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of bargemen has a stained-glass window dating from the l6th century and mural paintings from the I7th century telling the story of the saintly bishop’s life. In the centre of the chancel, there is a splendid 16th century stained-glass window of the “Tree of Jesse”. The church also has a noteworthy l4th century statue of the Ecce Homo and a realistic l4th century wooden Christ.

stained glass

The Towers

of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne

Ivy Tower Rousson Tower Bonneville Tower

The 13th Century Tower This massive 7O ft stone tower was the keep of the former royal castle. Sometimes mistakenly called «Tower of Louis the Fat» after Louis VI (1081 – 1137), it actually dates back to the very beginning of the l3th century and was built for King Philippe Auguste. It stands high on a truncated glacis, l2 ft thick walls opened sparingly here and there, its immense ranged multi-coloured stone blocks adding to the tower’s medieval charm. You can still make out the brace marks for the scaffolding used during its construction. Thanks to two drawbridges, this impregnable keep once opened both inside, as well as outside the surrounding walls. Its inner ogival vaults collapsed at the end of the 18th century.

Cultural Center Jean Pierre PINCEMIN

3 rue Bertrand - Tél : 03 86 87 27 88 Mardi et samedi de 14h à 18h15 Mercredi et vendredi de 9h à 12h et de 14h à 17h

A small Napoleon III style theater was added during the 1880s to the second floor of the old town hall, itself built in1837 on the site of the former royal bailiwick. The Town Hall was transferred in 1978 to 99 rue Carnot. The cultural center plays a central role in local community life. In 2006 the building was officially named after Jean Pierre Pincemin in honor of the theorist and practitioner of the «Supports-surfaces” movement. You will find a fresco by Pincemin adorning the theater’s ceiling. Progressively restored and renovated, the Cultural Center Jean Pierre Pincemin is being transformed into a series of spaces devoted to theater, film, photography and other Villeneuve cultural events. It now houses the Tourist Office, as well as the town’s entertainment and cultural services.

The library


In 2004 the city dedicated the public library to Mr. Jorge Semprun. This centre of culture and education has an important place in the lives of Villeneuvians. By naming its library after Semprun, the municipality wanted to pay tribute to this Spanish writer and politician, born 10 December 1923 in Madrid. In 1942 in France, Semprun was assigned to the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP), the Communist armed Resistance. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 between Villeneuve-sur-Yonne and Joigny, his false papers showed his name as Gerard Sorel, gardener in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. Deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp, he returned to Paris in 1945. From 1953 to 1962, during the era of Francisco Franco, Semprún lived clandestinely in Spain working as an organizer for the exiled Communist Party of Spain, but was expelled from the party in 1964. After the death of Franco and change to a democratic government, he became a writer and screenwriter for two successive films by the Greek director Costa-Gavras, Z (1969) and The Confession (1970), which dealt with the theme of persecution by governments. For his work on Z, Semprun won an Oscar. Semprun served as Culture Minister of Spain from 1988 to 1991. In 1996, he became the first non-French author elected to the Académie Goncourt, which awards an annual literary prize.

Villeneuve-sur-Yonne... the past

Discovering the city of


1-Jean Pierre Pincemin cultural center The Italian theater of 1880 is on the first floor Pincemin Espace Culturel Jean Pierre, who served as mayor until 1978. Jean Pierre Pincemin, painter, engraver and sculptor of the twentieth century gave the city a work in situ on the ceiling of the theater. 2 - The Saint Nicolas bridge and the cross of the Mariners This bridge from the twelfth century, and half was rebuilt in the nineteenth century, has a cross in the middle of the eighteenth century Mariners. 3 - Bonneville Tower Rebuilt in brick in the nineteenth century, the seat of origin of the twelfth century bears the marks of towing barges. 4 -Gate of Joigny (XII-XVI century) Joigny door is the brand outside of a set of exhibition halls, museums that are juxtaposed and dominate a park where an old mill found in apples and two wash including a vaulted under the Bridge Gate Joigny. 5 - Monument to Death Emile Peynot completed the monument to the dead of the Great War in the lineup while walks monument in 1870 is a little further to the cemetery. 6 - Walking Tour and Roland Tower Landscaped gardens or the ditches open the eyes of passers-by and allow you to imagine what was the defensive system of the city. 7 - Public wash house Located in the ditches is still active. 8 - Covered Market Built in the nineteenth, by Paul SĂŠdille, it houses a market on Tuesdays and Fridays alive and colorful. 9 - District Rooms Its plan is circular instead of the city, it included an artificial pond that served as a breeding ground. He then became the tanneries because of the many sources that run his basement, we suposse that the royal residence was at this location.

10 - The Dungeon In 1205, Philippe Auguste password control tower, will be completed in 1212. Separated from the walls, the tower is a sign of royal power, protecting a city largely autonomous. 11 - Walking Tour and the wizard tower The walks are around the old town (about 2 km), bordered by a quadruple row of trees. The tower in Wizard, now converted into a dwelling, was called the Tower Fairy ivy or when its dilapidated possible to imagine a supernatural occupation. 12 - Rousson and Tower Park Hall Truncated base intended to ricochet projectiles launched from the top. Park City Hall can see the base of the wall and the water court that ran along the moat. Since the platform, the prospect of the Yonne unfolds and you can admire the old loading bays transformed into walks and home to mariners red brick facings, now a restaurant. 13 - Gate of Sens (XII-XVI century) One of the five doors closed Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. One can notice its four corner turrets, polygonal outside the defense and rounded inside. 14 - House of 7 heads Carnot street view offers a series of houses whose most notable is the house seven heads (XVIII) and Roman deities carved (PlutoNeptune-Flora-Mercury-Ceres Bacchus and Jupiter). 15 - Fountain Briard It is the city of Sens with its attributes smocks and agriculture. It is due to Emile Peynot sculptor Prix de Rome and children Villeneuve sur Yonne. 16 - Church of Our Lady of the Assumption Built from the XIIth to XVIIth century, Gothic architecture ends with a Renaissance facade. You can admire the stained glass windows and listen to the organ at the annual summer festival.

The museum

Open in July and August Wednesday through Sunday – 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm Open year round for groups, on request.

Museum of Fine Arts

2, rue Carnot

Whether Villeneuvians by birth or adoption, the artists whose works you will find here will take you into the world of painting sculpture and printmaking.

BalkĂŠ Peynot

Berthold Mahn

Departmental Police Museum

Joigny Gate

Discover the world of the French territorial police through a fine collection of uniforms, medals, insignia and related objects, from its organization into brigades in 1720 to today.

Historical Museum

Joigny GAte

The history of Villeneuve-surYonne comes to life through the sculptures, prints, maps, and other objects in this extensive collection.

Photography Museum

2, rue Carnot

Discover the history of photography through the cameras, photographs, documents, assembled in this museum.

Sens Gate Houses temporary art exhibits all summer long.

The charm of our esplanade The old fortifications of the city have made way to a pretty, tree lined esplanade where, in their day, Joubert and Chateaubriand loved to linger while awaiting inspiration for their writings.

Outdoors Leisure Centre

In the pond area along the Yonne, North of the town wharf, the outdoor leisure centre offers summer tourists numerous activities like mini-golf, quadcycle pedal cars, pedal boats, and pop/rock co ncerts. 06 81 22 01 59

Villeneuve-sur-Yonne canal basin wharf

Saint Nicolas Bridge, an essential trade link, its construction began in the XII century. 210 meters long, it now comprises 10 arches and supports a statue of Saint Nicolas, patron of bargemen. It has withstood numerous modifications over the centuries, as has the Ile d’Amour which it spans. On the island of love you will discover the vestiges of an ancient defense tower, La Tour Barbe.

marina: 03 86 87 10 04



Corvered Market Tuesday and Friday Mornings 8:30 am to 12:30 pm

March: Carnival, Economic actors and jobs forum April: Easter Egg Hunt, Gates of Villeneuve Walking Tour May: Organic Green Market, Europe Day, Amateur adult foot ball match: Town Hall vs. Notre Dame Church June: Science Fair, Organ Festival, Amateur photographers’ circuit July: Regatta and Boating Party, Bastille Day Parade and pot luck supper August: Patronal Feast festivities, Fireworks and Fun Fair, The Medieval Fair September: Festival of Early Childhood December: Gastronomic and Christmas Markets June-September: Pot luck suppers with live music and dancing in our hamlets All year: theater, cinema, concerts, exhibitions

Year Round Activities Sailing Club, canoeing, hiking biking, and horseback riding

At the Tourist Office Bike rentals, Villeneuve tour guide sales (2â‚Ź) Guided tours of the town in July and August.

Tourist Information

25, Rue Carnot 89500. Villeneuve-sur-Yonne Tel: +33(0) Fax: +33(0) Hours

September to November March to June Tuesday through Wednesday 9h-12h30, 14h-18h Saturday - 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. December to February Monday, tuesday, thursday 9h-12h30, 14h-18h Wednesday, Friday 9h30-12h30, 14h-18h July and August Monday to saturday: 9h-12h30 14h-18h Sunday: 9h-13h

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Directeur de la publication : Cyril Boulleaux - Rédacteur en Chef: Nadège Naze - Office du tourisme de Villeneuve-sur-Yonne - 25, rue Carnot -89500 Villeneuve-sur-Yonne Tel : 03 86 87 12 52 - photos Mairie de Villeneuve sur Yonne- Jean-Claude Salvinien Imprimé par nos soins - ne pas jeter sur la voie publique. Please don’t litter.