Main summer base for exploring the Morvan
www.burgundy-tourisme.com. A typical grey stone and slate Morvan village perched on a hill in the middle of the park, Château-Chinon is the main summer base for exploring the region. It was also Francois Mitterand’s Nivernais political base, and where he acted as mayor from his quarters in the Vieux Morvan hotel from 1959 to 1981. As a result, the town has an unusual museum, the Musée Septennat, 6 rue du Château, which displays the weird and wonderful official gifts received by Mitterand during his terms as president (closed weekdays Oct-Apr, Jan-Feb).
There is also a folksy Musée du Costume with some exquisitely wardrobed dolls and assorted knick-knacks. The road past the museums leads up to a hill-top calvaire where an orientation table points out landmarks.
In 53 BC, the besieged Gaulish tribes held a Council of War at the fortified settlement of Bibracte on Mont Beuvray (25 km south-east via D27/D18). Vercingetorix was elected to lead the Gauls against the armies of Caesar, but defeat at Alésia in 53 BC saw the Gauls’ camp abandoned and the rise of Roman Augustodunum (Autun). Since the 19thC, archaeologists have been uncovering the remains of Bibracte in its secluded corner of the park. There are exhibitions, tours (Jul-Aug), and you can make a 5.5-km circuit of the ancient defences with marvellous views from the 821-m ‘mountain’.