Today, the city of Beaune still has 5 bastions, relics of an eventful history.
The Bastion Chanson, a History character When history gets involved
When history gets involved
“La tour des filles” or “Bastion de l’Oratoire”, currently the property of Domaine Chanson, was built on the old battlements of Beaune, constructed by the first dukes of Burgundy. From the mid 15th century, Philippe le Bon requested that the fortifications be maintained and developed.
Burgundy, under the reign of Charles le Téméraire, last Duke of Burgundy, surpassed the kingdom of France through its surface area and its power. This situation conferred a strategic place upon Beaune, then capital of Burgundy, raising the interest of neighbouring regions.
At the death of Charles le Téméraire, the 29th of January 1477, the states of Burgundy and particularly Beaune join his daughter, Marie de Bourgogne. Indeed, the wealthy people from the town centre and unruly winemakers of the area didn’t want to be reattached to France, and refused to obey Louis XI. However, one year later, after violent repressions, Louis XI took possession of Beaune. From then, Beaune is only a few kilometres from the boarders of a newly expanded Kingdom.
This strategic position commits the King to build and fortify harder the current battlements. Not only to repulse the enemy but also to subdue, just in case, the lovely population of Beaune still disobedient. As a result, “La Tour des Filles” was built between 1519 and 1524.
By then, the growing of vine was already established in the region and fully contributed to the local economy.
Two centuries later, with the development of trade, wines Houses naturally appeared. Under the reign of Louis XI, Simon Verry founded a House of burgundian wines and was allowed by the city to use the “Bastion de l’Oratoire”, clear of weapons and other objects witnessing the military history of the structure, to shelter his wines.
In 1790, the Bastion was at its best since it now shelters over 10 000 bottles of wine.
Its 8-metres thick walls protect wines from sunburn and winter bites. If “La Tour des Filles” owes its existence to the protection of a town and a power, it owes its survival to the protection of wine. A much more dignified vocation to some…
In the middle of the 9th century, while the Empire reached its end, wine trading is in full expansion. Alexis Chanson, then headmaster of the House, built two more levels to the structure which had become too small to welcome all the wines. In 1826, the Bastion reached its final shape.
When Chanson’s meets the French History
Built around a central shaft serving its 4 levels thanks to a spiral staircase, the Bastion is the most imposing bastion of the five still existing in Beaune.
Une organisation entièrement
tournée vers le vin !
Entering the Bastion through the only and unique door is an inimitable experience.
Once through this heavy many times centenarian door, an artery quickly leads us to its heart. All our senses are alerted. We must move up along the spinal column of the colossus to resurface and sink again inside and get out of it… We are certainly in another world.
A three-step construction…
- Around 1520:
The tower, with its 8-metres thick walls and its two levels, was built for a defensive purpose. The bastion is topped with a parapet, composed of stone slabs or lava stones, with embrasures. It supported 2 metres of earth, used to protect from artillery shootings, the new weapon replacing spring ballistic.
- 1826 :
To gain space, two more levels are added to the first two.
- 2007 :
To facilitate the work in winery, an assembling vat structure is installed at the entry of the third level.
…On 4 levels
- On the ground floor:
This first level, half-buried, is composed of a centre aisle surrounded by two long arteries.
- Second floor:
this level is also composed of a major artery, providing access to the sides but especially to the two great vaulted rooms.
- Third floor:
This third level looks like a succession of small chapels with vaults. The large square pillars, supporting the whole, give a very geometric aspect to this room of impressive dimensions. As well as the first two levels, this floor is dedicated to the ageing of red wines.
- Fourth floor:
The last level is a real surprise. Contrary to the first three levels which were competing between thick walls and imposing pillars, this level is entirely devoid of these. Around the central shaft, a huge star structure gives life to the enormous wine warehouse. Oak casks full of white wine are situated under these beams made of chestnut-wood. This last level provides to visitors access to a terrace offering a beautiful view of Beaune and the surrounding areas.