Abbaye de Flavigny - The setting for the movie Chocolat



This morning to do penance for our wayward living on the canals we set off on a pilgrimage to the Abbaye de Flavigny. From our boat at Pouillenay it took us 7 km of mostly steep-uphill climb through forest and farmland, until we saw lying before us the very same medieval village, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, where Juliette Binoche tempted the faithful with her sweet creations in the movie "Chocolat".


At the outskirts we were set upon by two barking dogs who then took it upon themselves to guide us through the "Porte du Bourg, once part of the abbey's wall right into the centre. 


The village has a 2000 year old history with Julius Caesar already setting up camp near-by. It received it's name from the Roman adventurer Flavinius ("Flavigny"), who also introduced the first aniseeds to the village. The  benedictine abbey was founded in 719 by Wideran, chief of the Burgundian tribe. 


Many aniseed factories followed the monk's recipe for candies and other sweets, and in the late 19th century, one man united all of them within the building of the former abbey. 

Millions of aniseed candies are still produced in the abbey by the Troubat Family's business. 


Next door are the remains of the 8th century crypt. 

Of course we didn't miss out on visiting Église Saint Genest, the church in the movie and close-by "Chocolat" shop front.

The church, also part 8th, part 15th century, was quite beautiful - the shop empty and abandoned without any hint of the sweet, brown substance. Maybe the mayor had won in the end after all as there was no chocolate in any form to find in the whole village.

So we bought some delicious aniseed bonbons which didn't make us feel as guilty as rich chocolate would have done.

The way downhill to the canal was much easier than the way up had been. We still needed our afternoon Nanny-nap, and only woke up when a lock keeper knocked on the boat to arrange next day's departure with us.

© Austin Robinson 2019