Welcome to this gateway to the Jura mountains, to its foothills known as the Revermont, which stretch north to south through the département in an impressive succession of ravines cut into the limestone plateau. A region where rocky outcrops and forests together form a geological border marking a clear boundary between the plains and the first of the Jura plateaux.
The village of Montaigu dates from the 13th century and owes its fortified origins to the Counts of Burgundy. Sat upon a rocky spur, at the junction of two steephead valleys: that of Val de Vallière to the north and Val de Sorne to the south, it used to protectively watch over the saltworks in Lons-le-Saunier.
Very few traces of its castle remain, but the fortified character of the village is still visible in many of its buildings: the church, chapel, stronghold houses, ramparts, underground constructions, washhouses, cellars etc.
From its monastic past it retains the stamp of the Carthusians who received part of the vineyard as a gift in the 13th century. These monks then built a splendid cellar with Gothic vaults and gradually began to select plots of land for vines. This gift was fortuitous for them, and consequently for us, because the two valleys provide excellent slopes with marl substrates providing an ideal terroir for vines. Most of the plots that our family has been tending since 1794 date from this period.
Locally, tales are still told of the time when Franche-Comté was resisting French occupation in the second half of the 17th century, recounting in particular the military exploits of Lacuzon, our homegrown Robin Hood, who was at one point the owner of our small fortress and garrisoned within its walls.
And last but not least, Montaigu is known as the home of a famous composer; not the author of the well-known, bawdy ballad “From Nantes to Montaigu”, which in fact refers to a dike near France’s Atlantic coast, but the man who penned “La Marseillaise”, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle. This local celebrity was born in Lons-le-Saunier, but then spent all his childhood and much of his adult life in our village. Rouget-de-Lisle owned several plots of vines that were tended by local winegrowers, producing wine that aged in his cellars. His house, which was honoured by a visit from General de Gaulle in 1962 and which can still be admired from the street, is listed as a Historic Monument.