Saint-Fargeau is a town in Yonne, in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, 29 km east of Châtillon-sur-Loire.
Bordering to the south with the department of Nièvre, close to that of Loiret to the west, its vast territory of 67 km² belongs to the natural region of Puisaye, on the borders of Nivernais, Orléanais and the Burgundy, renowned for its forests, ponds and wet valleys.
Crossed by the course of the Loing, the town being located on its left bank, the locality presents landscapes that are always very green and bucolic, covered for 44% of its area by forests, but also by agricultural land (32%) and meadows (18%).
The village appeared before the year 1000 when the Bishop of Auxerre had a hunting lodge built. Later, Saint-Fargeau was acquired by merchant and banker Jacques Coeur (1450). When he fell into disgrace, it was the judge who ruled on his fate, Antoine de Chabannes, who bought the city and all of Puisaye. The castle was then remodeled, then his son Jean de Chabannes inherited the seigneury. This became a county in 1541 and then passed into the royal family. Saint-Fargeau is then seat of a duchy (1566). Exiled in the city after the Fronde, the Grande Mademoiselle (Anne-Marie d'Orléans, also Duchess of Montpensier and above all first cousin of Louis XIV) had the castle remodeled by the great architect Le Vau (1652).
Rehabilitated in the 20th century, it remains its jewel, the whole of the town having preserved a rich heritage which has justified its being labeled a Small City of Character. With nearly 1,700 inhabitants, Saint-Fargeau also has a varied leisure offer thanks to its body of water on the Loing. A step is necessary!
Built in the Middle Ages on the foundations of a simple hunting lodge, remodeled, enlarged and embellished in the 15th and 17th centuries by Jacques Cœur, the judge of Chabannes then the Grande Mademoiselle, restored in the 1970s, the castle of Saint-Fargeau is a example of classical architecture. It takes the form of a pentagon of pink bricks, with towers crowned with campaniles at its corners, reminiscent of Chambord. The interior courtyard was designed by Le Vau and the estate includes an English-style park. During the first half of the 20th century, the castle was the cradle of Jean d'Ormesson's maternal family: the site was at the center of the novelist's work, "Au Plaisir de Dieu", then brought to the screen (the filming took place at Saint-Fargeau itself). The castle was acquired in 1979 by the Guyot family and partly renovated. This magnificent building is open to the public from early April to November 11 (and all year round for groups by reservation). Price: 7.9 and 11 euros. On weekends, in July and August, a sound and light show is given in the evening which showcases and highlights this grandiose setting and its history. On this occasion, some 650 costumed actors and 50 riders are mobilized… Prices: 11 and 18 euros. Information about visits and shows on +33 3 86 74 05 67.
In an equally singular setting but in a different register, the old castle farm (18th century buildings), which belongs to other owners, has become a real place of relaxation and education where goats, calves, hens, pigs, ducks, geese roam freely. Cheese and bread are produced there. The place can be explored on foot or by pony and you can watch the feedings. Other activities punctuate the days. Open daily from April to early November. Price: 6 and 8 euros. Information on +33 3 86 74 03 76.
But Saint-Fargeau has many other heritage items of interest, often listed in the Inventory.
Let us mention the Château de Dannery in the associated commune of Septfonds, where the Grande Demoiselle stayed for some time during the work carried out at Saint-Fargeau. The site is private and cannot be visited. In the same village, the 16th century church is protected.
In the village of Saint-Fargeau, you can see the Saint-Ferréol church (built in the 13th century) which notably houses a 15th-century triptych and a 16th-century Pietà painted by a Flemish master, the Sainte-Anne chapel and its frescoes, or the former Augustinian convent which is now occupied by the offices of the town hall.
The pretty belfry (also known as the Clock Tower) and its beautifully crafted framework, with a recently restored steeple, is also worth a look.
The old market hall and a number of half-timbered houses still contribute to the charm of this small town which does not lack character. We will however conclude this overview of the heritage with the cemetery which includes a chapel whose walls are decorated with 16th century frescoes representing in particular the Passion of Christ...
On the cultural side, again, since so many sacred works are by elsewhere to admire, the library schedules events throughout the seasons: contact +33 3 86 45 74 15. As for the center of Boisgelin, it hosts exhibitions and association events: inquire at +33 3 86 74 01 41.
On the square from the town hall, the astonishing Museum of the Adventure of Sound preserves a fund of 1000 objects: phonographs, radios and mechanical musical instruments. It thus offers a visual and auditory journey into the world of radiophony with a focus on the history of sound reproduction, from the first experiments at the beginning of the 19th century to the discoveries of the 1960s. Reopening in April 2022. Information on +33 3 86 74 13 06.
For athletes, in the town, there is a complex comprising an indoor multi-sports ground and another outdoors, tennis courts (reservations with the club on +33 6 83 85 32 83) and a bowling alley.
Then head for the Lac du Bourdon, an artificial reservoir brought into service in 1905 on the course of the Loing. Covering 220 hectares, it is both a remarkable natural site for flora and fauna (migratory birds) and a real treasure for leisure enthusiasts in a natural setting. You can swim there on a supervised beach (nicely called the Calanque) in July and August. In addition, on the Daniel Bailly base, sailing, canoeing, rowing, paddleboarding, pedal boating... The site is also suitable for hiking and fishing. All information on +33 3 86 74 04 07.
Note also that the equestrian center of Les Grilles is located in the town: contact on +33 3 86 74 12 11. As for fishermen, in addition to the lake, other ponds or courses water are available to them. Join the local association on +33 6 75 79 07 27.
Between rivers, bodies of water and forests, it's an understatement to say that hiking enthusiasts are in for a treat. More than ten marked trails have been laid out in the town itself, highlighting the heritage and environment of Puisaye... Maps and information on +33 3 86 74 10 07.