Mâcon (Fr. Mâcon), historically anglicised as Mascon, is a city in east-central France. It is the prefecture of the department of Saône-et-Loire in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The city gave its name to the nearby vineyards and wine ‘appellation’. It borders the Beaujolais region, one hour by car from Lyon.
Tourism and main attractions
The city has an important heritage with 24 buildings protected as historical monuments with 6 listed buildings.
In 2015, the Louis Escande theater, the archives tower, the Bioux district, the curvilinear Bioux building and the Paul-Bert nautical center were awarded the 20th Century Heritage label.
The old Saint-Vincent cathedral known as Vieux-Saint-Vincent is located in the city center, rue de Strasbourg, this eleventh century cathedral has been classified as a historic monument since 1862. Formerly the cathedral of the diocese of Mâcon, the latter has lost this status at the beginning of the nineteenth century since the construction of the Saint-Vincent cathedral church.
Located rue du 8 mai 1945, this building faces the Square de la Paix and was financed by Napoleon. It was built on the site of an old Roman temple and it was in this building that Lamartine’s funeral took place on 4 March 1869. The church keeps the title of cathedral because it is the titular church of the former diocese.
Behind the town hall on the other side of St. Peter’s Square sits the eponymous church. Construction decided by the municipality, the largest church in the city with its 75 meters long, its 30 meters wide and its towers 53 meters high is in neo-Romanesque style. It was built between 1859 and 1865 according to the plans of André Berthier, a student of Viollet-le-Duc.
Outside the city centre, other churches are part of the Macon landscape. For example, the Saint-Clément church located on the eponymous square was that of the village of Saint-Clément, today a district of the city south of the centre.
The former Ursuline convent located on rue des Ursulines dates from 1680. From the Revolution, the convent was used to hold various functions, including a remand centre where Lamartine’s father was imprisoned there. In 1796, the site became the Puthod barracks until 1929, when the building was decommissioned and returned to the City.
Listed as historical monuments since 1929, the building has housed the Ursulines museum since 1968.
In addition to religious monuments, Mâcon includes many places not dedicated to religion. The Senecé hotel, formerly called the Marnay hotel, housed until 2016 the Lamartine museum dedicated to the Maéteconnais poet. However, it still hosts the Academy of Mâcon, society of arts, sciences and belles-lettres founded in 1805. It was classified as a historical monument in 1962. The Vantey, Lamartine and Rossan de Davayé hotels have also been listed as historical monuments.
In addition to these hotels, various buildings or houses are the objects of protection or curiosities. For example, the wooden house, built between 1490 and 1510, is certainly the oldest house in the city. Along the rue Saint-Nizier, a house has a window dating from the Renaissance while we find the bailiff’s house near the rue du Paradis with a Gallo-Roman tower.
Culture and festivals
Summer Struck, a free festival devoted to the arts and music takes place every summer from the end of June to the end of August throughout the city (in particular on the Esplanade Lamartine on the edge of the Saône) offering many concerts of different musical genres: classical, French song, jazz, rock, folk, hip-hop, rap, but also many shows (dance, comedy), outdoor cinema screenings, outdoor plays, sporting events…
Each year at the end of July, the Crescent Jazz Club organizes for three days its own jazz festival, the Crescent Jazz Festival, an integral part of the Summer Struck festival, inviting internationally renowned jazz musicians to perform.
Another event that is an integral part of the L’Été struck festival is the Les Nuits d’Été festival in Mâcon. For a week, at the end of July, the association Art en Liberté offers free classical music concerts in the settings of the City of Mâcon (Cloister of the Ursulines Museum, courtyard of the Hôtel Sénécé, Place de l’Eglise Saint-Pierre, Council Chamber of the Town Hall). Each year, Les Nuits d’Été refuel the 600 to 700 places available to the public.
At the very beginning of summer (just before the summer closing), La Cave à Musique offers a special outdoor program called Aperitifs in the courtyard.
The city is also a breeding ground for musical groups including Broussaï, whose album Perspectives was named “best French reggae album” of 2009 by professionals and the public.
The Mâcon Effervescence Festival is a film festival that takes place every year in October.
The center by the town hall is the town’s shopping area (rue Carnot, rue Dufour, rue Sigorgne, rue Philibert-Laguiche, rue Dombert, rue Franche, the quay Lamartine, the esplanade Lamartine and rue de la Barre).
Cuisine and restaurants
Mâcon’s sugary specialties are a cake made of meringue and filled with butter cream named “l’idéal mâconnais”, and a sugary pâtisserie made of a very thin cigarette-shaped waffle named “la gaufrette mâconnaise” (“gaufrette” meaning “little waffle” in French).
Mâcon is surrounded by a vineyard of 12,355 acres which produces 49 million bottles of wine including the famous crus like Saint-Véran or Pouilly-Fuissé.
West of Mâcon, there is the Charolais area famous for its white-coated cattle.
East of Mâcon, on the other side of the Saône river, there is Bresse, famous for its white poultry, the only ones to have received an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) stamp.
There are three Michelin list restaurants in the city:
- Pierre, 7 rue Dufour, 34 – 110 EUR • Classic Cuisine (one star)
- Cassis, 74 rue Joseph-Dufour, 21 – 55 EUR • Modern Cuisine
- Ma Table en Ville, 50 rue de Strasbourg, 26 – 59 EUR • Market Cuisine
The nearest international airport is in Lyon.
Gare de Mâcon Loché TGV (routes: Paris-Marseille and Paris-Geneva)
Gare de Mâcon-Ville (routes Dijon-Lyon and Dijon-Marseille).
Distances by car:
From Lyon (tolls): 58 min (72.9 km) via A6
From Biarritz (tolls): 7 hr 28 min (793 km) via A89
From Nantes (tolls): 6 hr 23 min (628 km) via A85
From Bordeaux (tolls): 5 hr 41 min (600 km) via A89
From Toulouse (tolls): 5 hr 42 min (601 km) via A20 and A89
From Monaco (tolls): 5 hr 56 min (561 km) via A8 and A7
From Marseille (tolls): 4 hr 11 min (382 km) via A7
From Andorra (tolls): 7 hr 55 min (732 km) via A9 and A7
Area: 27 sq. km
Population: 33 700
Time: Central European UTC +1
GPS coordinates: 46°18′23″N 4°49′53″E