The villages of the region are rare jewels of the past...

The canton of Charny consists of 15 villages situated between Dicy to Grandchamp and Fontenouilles to the Ferté Loupière

Discover the history, culture and enjoy the many countryside walks.

The original definition of a “canton” was land/ territory which could be covered on horseback as a return journey in one day. Nowadays horseback is no longer the only way to travel, so tour around and discover, in your chosen method of transport, the Puisaye Forterre region!

Charny's Town Hall and market place
Charny's Town Hall and market place


From the prehistoric period to the modern age


Charny has been inhabited since the prehistoric period (traces of cut and polished flint have been found in the area). Two historical sites from the Carolingian era still exist : Frécambault and Cocico.

The name of Charny, originally “Caarnetum”, appears on a deed of gift dating from 1130 in the Ercharlis Abbey. The moated château of Charny belonged to the Courtenay family and was located close to the church.

The town's heyday would have been during the time of Mahaut d'Artois – the new chatelaine in 1303 (at the time, there were approximately 2000 inhabitants). The lazar house (a place to quarantine people affected by leprosy) and surrounding defensive walls were also constructed during the same period. Mahaut d'Artois embellished the old castle and restored the town. In 1309, King Philippe le Bel was received by Charny.

A second castle, previously known as the “Clos”, used to guard the bridges of the river Ouanne. The watchtower, which still stands today and is called the“Haute Cave”, was built to protect the town in the West.

In 1358 France was invaded by Robert Knowles' troops, but Charny - faithful to the King of France – managed to resist.

However, the town was taken over six times in a row by the Bourguignons and the Armagnacs between 1426 and 1443 – it was completely destroyed and burnt down. After the Hundred Years' War, the town was totally destroyed and remained empty for half a century.

In 1653 a lady known as the “Grande Mademoiselle” (mademoiselle de Montpensier) was exiled in her château at Saint-Fargeau. She donated Charny to her half brother and this explains the presence of a fleur-de-lis on the Charny's coat of arms.

In 1706, a great fire destroyed part of the town – the Grange aux Dîmes (the “Tithe Barn”) and a few houses on the street “rue des Ponts” were all that remained. Towards the end of 1802, Charny became the head town of the canton. In 1840 the bridge over the River Ouanne and the Town Hall were built. In 1946 the small village “la Mothe aux Aulnaies” became a part of Charny – giving it a larger territory over the valley of the River Ouanne.

Nowadays Charny remains the head town of the canton. New communication systems and the town's proximity to Paris have enabled it to develop. Its trade and economy hold a promising future.

Chevillon's Castle
Chevillon's Castle


nestled in a small valley


Foundations and objects from the Gallo-Roman era are evidence of a working population living in villas built upon mottes. In the 13th century, the title of Lord belonged to the Sires of Vallery – this title was passed on, by alliance, to the Courtenay Family who kept it until the 17th century.

Tombstone in Notre-Dame church
Tombstone in Notre-Dame church


Between the River Ouanne and the Cuivre stream


The name of the village was mentioned for the first time in 1150 under the name "Castenus Arnulfi" – meaning the “small oakwood of the Eagle and the Wolf”.

In 1154 the Echarlis Abbey registered this name and it remained unchanged until the 16th century.

The village church “Notre-Dame”, was built with a romanesque nave and contains a tombstone from the 12th century.



A village in the heart of the countryside


The name of the village is of Latin origin – previously known as “Campus Beuglia”meaning “cattle fields”. Another possible origin could be from the name of a small, common blue flower used for medicinal purposes in the seventeenth century – the “beuglia”. This plant was mainly used by the Knights Templar for healing battle wounds.

The land around Chambeugle belonged to the Knights Templar and was particularly well known for its Commandry which was passed on during the fourteenth century to the Order of the Hospitallers.

The chapel was built during the 12th and the 13th centuries and was closely connected with the Commandry of Saint Marc of Orleans under the Old Regime.

All that remains from the time of the Commandry is a farm and the chapel (which became the parish church under the patronage of Saint Aubin). Inside the church is a carved font and a sarcophagus. The nave and the heart of the church were built in a Gothic style during the 15th century. The stained glass windows and the great altar date from the 17th century.

Since 1562, the church no longer has a steeple and the village farm has kept the name: "the Commandry."




A tranquil country village


“Grandis Campus” used to be the name of a vast, Gallo-Roman agricultural land. The château in Grandchamp was built in the 16th century in the same location as the old manor house of the Leroy family. François Lemaistre de la Robie , Lord of Grandchamp, was the owner of the château and a descendant of Lucca della Robia.

The most attractive features of the château are its many turrets and the surrounding moat. The servants' quarters at the edge of the courtyard are built in a unique brick-design, dating from the seventeenth century. The main entrance gate displays elaborate ironwork.




Situated between the Puisaye region and the Gâtinais.


The land of Fontenouilles belonged to the Duke of Châtillon sur Loing (nowadays called Châtillon Coligny). The earliest origins of the village appear to to be an ancient drainage system built in a quadrangular form in the “Bois de la Salle”.

The Saint Vérain church was built during the 16th century, its chevet, nave and porch (which was rebuilt during the 17th century) are all reminiscent of the Gothic style.



Situated on the banks of the river Chantereine


Pieces of cut and polished flint have been found in the area of Dicy, which suggests that the village has been inhabited since the prehistoric period.

A papal bull (a papal charter written in 1107) mentions that the church of Dicy used to be part of the diocese of Sens. In 1153 "Diciacum" (the latin name for “Dicy”) belonged to the Echarlis Abbey. The monks brought prosperity to the area, but most of their hard work was destroyed during the Hundred Years' War.

In 1545, Dicy became part of the Birague family's property.

Slowly but surely, the village grew and was modernised. The first teacher came to the village in 1841 and a school (which is still used today) was built in 1880.






The village on the banks of a pond.


The word “Marchais” is of Latin origin (“mercatius”) and means “marshland” in the Poyaudin dialect (the dialect of the Puisaye region).

A Provost named Béton from the Sainte Colombe Abbey in Sens wanted a pond to be dug out near to the village – hence the name “Marchais de Béton” later abbreviated to “Marchais-Béton”.

In the 858, the village was also known as “Marcasolius”.




A tradition of hospitality


Perreux (meaning “stony path”) was part of a Roman road built from Auxerre to Orleans - it has always been a place of passage since the Gallo-Roman period.

The Manor of Coudre where noble families lived and the château of Montigny were built along this route.

Sheep markets used to take place in the village, where vendors from Champagne en Berry would sell their goods. These renowned markets existed from the time of King Philippe Auguste (13th century) until the Second World War.

With the arrival of Montigny and immigrants from the west, the village's economy flourished: for instance the brick kiln was extended and a pottery workshop was built.

Today the village's tradition of trade and hospitality are still very important, alongside agriculture.



On the route of the Bourguignons


Malicorne, a picturesque village overlooking the Branlin valley, was recorded for the first time in 1120 under the name “Malicornium”. It used to belong to the Echarlis' abbey, but later became part of the fiefdom of the Courtenay family and its allies until 1632.

During the Hundred Years' War (from 1337 to 1453) the fortress of Malicorne fell into the hands of Robert Knowles, ally of the Bourguignons. It was used as a strategic point for the violent raids which took place throughout the region.

The land of Malicorne was bought by Germain Texier in 1632. The old castle was knocked down and replaced by the château of “Hautefeuille” and “le Plessis”. In 1689 it became part of a county with Charny and La Mothe aux Aulnaies.

In 1812, the Séguier family bought back the land.



A charming château and surrounding lakes.


In 1120 “Prunetum” was a big town belonging to the Echarlis' abbey. In 1470 the lordly power was passed from the Courtenay family to the Crèvecoeur family, it remained in their ownership until the beginning of the eighteenth century.

In 1721 François de Lalive (head of finances) bought the “château de Vienne” (also known as the “château de Prunoy”) most of the château was demolished and rebuilt as it can be seen today.

The Roman church, which was dedicated to Saint Laurent, was destroyed in 1929.


Villefranche Saint Phal

Rich in history and a dynamic present …


Like many of the villages in the canton, the town of Villefranche Saint Phal has been inhabited since the Stone Age.

Traces of the Gauls and their daily activities have been found, particularly ironwork which can still be seen today.

Various Gallo-Roman objects from local excavations have also been found, especially near to the Chantereine fountain.

In the 12th century, the town was recorded under the name of "Villa Franca". At the time, it seems that the town benefited from a certain degree of autonomy, hence the name.

In 1567 the lordly power belonging to the family of Dicy was passed to the Saint Phal family and remained in their hands until 1789.

The Cistercian Abbey of the Echarlis was founded in the early twelfth century, burned down twice in 1357 and in 1652. It was completely demolished during the French Revolution.


Saint Martin sur Ouanne

The meeting point of the river Ouanne and the Branlin tributary.


The village is mentioned for the first time in the 9th century as a parish called “Dominium Martinium” belonging to the Archbishop of Sens and later passed on to the Abbey of Montargis and then to the Abbey of Echarlis.

The remains of a forge have been found in Donzy which was connected with the large “ferrier” (the equivalent of a very large slag heap) in Tannère. A Gallo-Roman bridge in Ponessant is also evidence of activity in early centuries.

In 1358, the village was captured and invaded by Robert Knowles' troops which were situated in the nearby château of Malicorne.

In the 15th century the village belonged to the Count of Joigny, it was later handed back to the Count of Charny.


Saint Denis sur Ouanne

“Super ordonnam” in latin: above the river Ouanne.


In the ninth century, Saint Denis was known as “Sanctus Dionisius” and belonged to the monks of Fontainejean up until the French Revolution. The wine from its vineyards was a favourite of King Louis XIV.

In 1358, Robert Knowles ravaged most of the region, but spared Saint Denis. Nevertheless, many inhabitants fled and most did not return.

People from the Berry, Jura and Auvergne regions came to settle in the area – some of the hamlets in the village still have names from that period, for instance: “les Galichets”, “les Lombards” and “les Blés”....