Farming covers most of the area, with wheat, and other crops. There is also a large dairy industry, which makes lots of cheese that is sold to the local people in Vaudrey and Mathenay. This cheese is only found in this area. as is true of so many other places in France, which have their own local cheeses. France has over 750 different kind of cheeses, so one could guess the variety you have to choose from.
Later on the first night we were met by the Mayors wife and their family. who I had met on a previous trip in 1996. We all went out for dinner that night, and I must say when you sit at a table with all French speaking people its very interesting when you speak very little French. It was so much fun trying to tell stories of your travels and things about your family which causes lots of laughter from both sides.
On a good French map you will find the Ain and the Douds Rivers and on the road D 469 from Arbois to Dole, lies the hamlet of Mathenay numbering 200 inhabitants and comprising about 1700 acres. It is an elevation of about 750 feet on a slight rise on the left bank of the Cuisance River, a tributary of the Loue, which flows into the Doubs. The 60 some families live in plain stone houses, with thatch or hollow tile roofs, huddled together along the dinghy, narrow streets and most are retired farmers.
The town and its inhabitants have changed little over the centuries. I had the opportunity to visit the village first in June of 1996 and met many of the people, including the Mayor, Mr. George Pricaz, and his assistant. The mayor arranged for the town's people to meet in the town hall of Mathenay to meet with me. We all had an evening dinner together. The people were so kind and the food was the best. Even though I speak very little French and they spoke very little English, it will be a night that I will always remember, over 55 people came to the Town Hall.
Old as the village is, the name may go back to even to more remote times, before Humbert III, Lord of Salins at the time of founding of the Abbey de Rosiers in 1130 AD. included in its endowment was the lands of Vieux (a town near Mathenay ) the (Old) Mathenay on which was a spring issuing from the base of an Elm tree near the public road leading to near by Crozon. Thus the village had two successive identities, the present village being located near the older site, about 8 kilometers (6 miles) from Arboirs, 15 km. From Poligny and 40 km from Lons-le -Saunier.
Louise in doorway of the Abbey On this occasion the Mayor was out of town on business and I did not have the opportunity to meet with him, However his family were very good hosts, and showed us around the village of Mathenay as well as Vaudrey and the Old Abbey of Rosires.
In the Middle Ages Mathenay belonged to the barons of Vadans, whose seigneur possessed the greatest part of the territory. (A seigneur was the feudal lord who organized the district constituting a nearly independent unit of administration under the seigneur or ("lord of the manor"). The castle and the home farm being surrounded by dependent, rent paying holdings and villein tenants providing services, rent, taxes, etc. A thousand year's ago wild pastures and woods near a village were considered more or less communal property like the wooded where the Abbey of Rosiers was built which over the years cause problems in the Matheny's clan and was a reason for them to leave the area.
Today no Mathenay's live in the area, although the Mathenays, Vaudrey and the Thoire were well noted in the area. You can see they left their mark on the area as on the crest of the Mathenays, is a swan with a gold ring in its mouth and if you see the crest of Jura you will also that same white swan and gold ring in its mouth as it stands today and seen on many buildings in towns like the Town Hall of Arbois.
Church St Pierre Nantua Mathenay - Today. The next two pictures are of a gravestone at the cemetary at the Abbey de Rosiers, and some old tiles from the original structures. Stones and tiles from the old Abbey ruins. Except from the doorway pictured above, these tiles are mostly the only remains of the old Abbey.
TRAVEL ON TO Vaudrey, France