The city lies on the western bank of the Saône river, between Bresse in the east and the Beaujolais hills in the south. Mâcon is the southernmost city in the department of Saône-et-Loire and the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is located 65 kilometres (40 miles) north of Lyon and 400 kilometres (249 miles) from Paris.
The Saône river runs through the town. The climate is temperate with a slight continental tendency.
Ancient and Medieval eras
The agglomeration of Mâcon originates from the establishment of an oppidum and of a river port by the Celts from the Aedui, probably at the beginning of the first century BC. Known then under the name of Matisco, the town developed significantly during the age of the Roman Empire. This is demonstrated by the large Roman hoard, the Mâcon Treasure, that was discovered in the town in 1764, the remains of which is in the British Museum. During the 4th century, the town was fortified.
During the Middle Ages, Mâcon was the administrative center of a county belonging to the Duchy of Burgundy, situated at the extremity of the bridge over the Saône leading to the Bresse territory belonging to the Duchy of Savoy. The town was controlling access to present-day Lamartinien Valley (Val Lamartinien), where the southern end of the Côte de Bourgogne joins the first foothills of the Beaujolais hills, opening the way to the rich plains of the Loire.
On 3 June 1564, Charles IX from Chalon, stopped in the town during his Royal Tour of France (1564–1566), accompanied by the Court and the nobles of his kingdom, including his brother the Duke of Anjou, Henry of Navarre, the cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. The town is strategically built: it was a possible entrance into the kingdom for the Swiss or German mercenaries during the French Wars of Religion. He was welcomed by the Queen Jeanne III of Navarre, nicknamed the “Queen of Protestants”, and 1,500 Huguenots.
Revolutionary and Imperial eras
In 1814, the town was invaded by Austrian troops and then liberated twice by French troops before being permanently occupied until the fall of the Empire. After Napoléon’s return and the subsequent Hundred Days, Mâcon and the Mâconnais were again captured by the Austrians.