Castles of Cessens (Tours de Cesar)
French author Jean-Jacques Rousseau has written part of his novel “Emile” at the foot of one of the castles.
Chapel, on the left handside of the road leading to the Col du Sapenay (Sapenay Pass), a large trail meanders throught the forest to the Tours de Cesar. These are ruins of two of the oldest medieval castles from the former Geneva area.
Castles of Cessens
Not much remains of the “Old Castle“. A narrow and hard-to-find trail climbs up the hill, through brushes, to a few overgrown ruins.
The “New Castle” has suffered against weather vagaries, wars and stone pillages. However, part of its walls are still up and stand at about 3 meters high. Inside the walls ruins, remains of rooms, of a tower and of a well can be guessed. The surroundings tend to be overgrown but do still offer a nice view over the Cessens Mountain, the Lac du Bourget, the Chautagne area, the Grand Colombier Mountain and the Petit Bugey area. An information table will take you through the story of this charming site.
The Castels of Cessens through history
Both castles were built between the 13th and 14th centuries. Their location was carefully chosen as it strategically enabled Lords to watch over the Sapenay Road. Hence, enemy armies could be spotted early and circulation of goods could be controlled.
Until the 15th century, both castles played an important part in the wars opposing the Geneva, Faucigny and Savoie territories and later in the war between Savoie and France. They used to be some of the strongest castles in the former Geneva area.
The “New Castle” was most likely destroyed in 1630, during the war between Savoie and France.
Castels of Cessens – The legend
Wandering through the Tours de Cesar (the “New Castle” to be more precise), you will see an old well. Although nowadays is is almost completely filled, it used to be very deep and may have been used as a prison for ennemies caught in battle. It is said that throughout the years, prisoners had managed to dig a tunnel underneath the mountain, enabling some of them to escape a slow but certain death. To this day, the existence of this tunnel has not been proved.