At the foot of Mont Orgier and just a few kilometres from the Lac de Vouglans, between Lons-le-Saunier and Saint-Claude lies the small town of Orgelet. Its fortifications and beautiful buildings are the legacy of a former splendour. The first castle was built in the 12th century, but it wasn’t until the arrival of the Counts of Chalon, in the 13th century, that Orgelet became the seat of a large and powerful barony.
From the Lords of Chalon to Cadet Roussel
During the era of the Chalon-Arlay lords, a mint and a hospital were constructed. They were independent and often on the side lines or rebelling against the Dukes of Burgundy, who consolidated their lands to the city in 1267 and later under the reign of Jean 1st of Chalon-Arlay. Let’s fast forward a few centuries and meet Cadet Roussel. You remember the song? But do you know the story of this boy and his reputation for the high life? He was born in Orgelet and later moved to Auxerre, where he became the town’s bailiff, then a revolutionary, and owner of a crooked house. His eccentricities made him the target of many jibes, which eventually inspired the famous French nursery rhyme.
Houses in his town are anything but crooked. Quite the opposite! They are neatly arranged and have a remarkable architectural balance. Around the wonderfully restored church featuring some of the region’s oldest organs, the picturesque narrow streets bordered by archways hold many surprises, such as the Bernadine convent and chapel, the old ramparts, the Bourg de Merlia gate, the round tower, Place de la Grenette (old corn exchange) and the burgher houses. All of which explains why Orgelet belongs to the network “Petites Cités Comtoises de Caractère“.