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Clamecy, Nièvre

Bridge over the Beuvron
Bridge over the Beuvron
Coat of arms of Clamecy
Location of Clamecy
Clamecy is located in France
Clamecy is located in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Coordinates: 47°27′39″N 3°31′13″E / 47.4608°N 3.5203°E / 47.4608; 3.5203
IntercommunalityHaut Nivernais-Val d'Yonne
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Nicolas Bourdoune[1]
30.26 km2 (11.68 sq mi)
 • Density120/km2 (310/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
58079 /58500
Elevation142–281 m (466–922 ft)
(avg. 160 m or 520 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Clamecy (French pronunciation: [klamsi] ) is a commune in the Nièvre department in central France.[3]

Clamecy is the capital of an arrondissement in the department of Nièvre,[3] at the confluence of the Yonne and Beuvron and on the Canal du Nivernais, 74 kilometres (46 mi) N.N.E. of Nevers.[4]

Clamecy is locally described as the capital of the valleys of the Yonne and classified under the French tourist criteria "Station Verte de Vacances" (centre for outdoor activity–based vacations) and among the "Plus Beau Détour de France" (most beautiful routes in France).


The earliest literary mention under the name of Clamiciacus, a possession of the bishops of Auxerre, is in the bequest by Pallade, Bishop of Auxerre, in 634, founding an abbey in the suburbs of Auxerre, dedicated to the Virgin, Saint Andrew and Saint Julien, martyr, and supported by lands in Clamiciacus and other places.[5] Clamecy continued to belong to the abbey of St Julian at Auxerre until the eleventh century, when it passed to the counts of Nevers and of Auxerre, one of whom, Hervé, enfranchised the inhabitants in 1213.[4]

The crusading Count William IV of Nevers promised the bishop of Bethlehem that if Bethlehem should ever fall, he would welcome him in Clamecy. After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1188, the bequest of the now deceased count was honoured and the Bishop of Bethlehem duly took up residence in the hospital of Panthenor, Clamecy, which remained the continuous (if somewhat idiosyncratic) seat of the Bishopric of Bethlehem until the French Revolution.[6]

The town was sacked and substantially rebuilt in the 14th century during the Hundred Years' War.

Clamecy enjoyed great prosperity thanks to the development, by Jean Rouvet, of the 'Flottage du bois', by which timber from the immense forests of the Morvan national park were processed and floated down river to Paris. The 'Flottage' which started in the 16th century continued until the beginning of the 20th century (the last floating 'log train' left Clamecy in 1923).
There is also an interesting hereditary link between Jean de Clamecy (later to become John II, Count of Nevers) and Henry VIII of England, via Jean de Clamecy's daughter, Elizabeth of Nevers, who married John I, Duke of Cleves and was consequently Anne of Cleves great grandmother.


Medieval timber-framed house

The medieval centre of Clamecy has been classed by the French government as a "Secteur Sauvegardé" (protected sector) in entirety; the only such protected area in the whole of the department of the Nievre.

The town has evolved in the typical concentric French manner, with a town centre consisting of 13th- to sixteenth-century houses (still remarkably intact), surrounded by nineteenth-century houses and buildings with 20th-century developments forming an outer ring.

Its principal building is the church of St Martin which dates chiefly from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The tower and façade are of the 16th century. The chevet, which is surrounded by an aisle, is rectangular—a feature found in few French churches.[4] After a period of neglect following the French revolution, the church underwent significant restoration under the auspices of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and was classified as a historic monument in 1840.[citation needed] Of the old castle of the counts of Nevers (site now occupied by the 19th century Mairie), only the vaulted cellars remain. A church in the suburb of Bethléem (Bethlehem), dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, now serves as part of a hotel.[4]


In recent years, Clamecy has attracted numerous artists from around Europe, who have set up their homes and studios in the historic town centre. In recognition of this, in the summer of 2008, the tourism committee opened a new, contemporary gallery space, in which international and established local artists showcase their work. Resident international Artists include Candl (Czech republic), Horatio Holzbein (UK), Moree (Netherlands), Jane Witheridge (UK) and Lee Woods (UK). Local artists of renown include Remi Cholet, who is best known for his work with the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

Clamecy is also home to a well-respected music college.

In the summer months, Clamecy is home to the Festival des Perthuis[7] - a one-month-long music festival, in which a variety of venues scattered across the town play host to visiting musicians (two or three times a week) catering for all musical tastes.

The afternoon of Bastille Day (July 14) is also the date on which the Tournament du Roi Sec takes place on the Yonne River at Clamecy. The tournament is a light-hearted, waterborne jousting competition, in which the last person left standing on their specially adapted rowing boat at the end of the afternoon is crowned 'the dry King', and carried through the streets by his opponents. This activity is only practiced in two other towns throughout France.


Clamecy was once the site of saw-mills, fulling-mills and flour-mills, tanneries, and manufactories of boots and shoes and chemicals. It was known for trade in wine and cattle and in wood and charcoal, which was conveyed principally to Paris, by way of the Yonne.[4]

Most of this industry mentioned came to an end in the first two decades of the 20th century. Apart from a few modern industrial units on the edge of town and the remnants of a small acetone production facility, little remains.

Considerable investment by successive local administrations has seen the transformation of the town from a logging centre into a pretty, medieval tourist attraction and favourite tie-up for leisure users of the Canal du Nivernais, which runs from Auxerre to Decize.

The modern economy of Clamecy (and the surrounding countryside), is derived from tourism and agriculture, with a high proportion of inhabitants commuting to larger towns such as Auxerre and Paris.


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1968 5,741—    
1975 5,922+0.44%
1982 5,590−0.82%
1990 5,284−0.70%
1999 4,806−1.05%
2007 4,424−1.03%
2012 4,097−1.52%
2017 3,759−1.71%
Source: INSEE[8]


Twin towns


The public institutions include the sub-prefecture,[3] tribunals of first instance and of commerce and a communal college.[4][needs update?]

See also


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Clamecy". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 419.
  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires" (in French)., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises. 13 September 2022.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2021" (in French). The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b c INSEE commune file
  4. ^ a b c d e f Chisholm 1911.
  5. ^ Maximilien Quentin, ed. Cartulaire général de l'Yonne: recueil de documents authentiques (1860: vol. II p. xxx). (An 634).
  6. ^ de Sivry, L: Dictionnaire de Géographie Ecclésiastique, page 375.
  7. ^ Festival des Perthuis, 2008 edition at Le guide des festival Archived 2008-09-12 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
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Clamecy, Nièvre
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